Asus Chromebit CS10

£89 inc VAT • asus.com

Tech Advisor - - CONTENTS -

In the few years that Chrome­books have been around they’ve proven them­selves to be easy-to-use, re­li­able, light­weight, af­ford­able com­put­ers for peo­ple who don’t need the power or price of a high-end PC. Now the Asus Chromebit CS10 has taken this ethos a lit­tle fur­ther by tak­ing the core com­po­nents and pack­ing a full ver­sion of ChromeOS into a don­gle the size of a Mars bar.

If you’re won­der­ing how this dif­fers from an ex­ist­ing de­vice such as the Google Chrome­cast 2, then let us ex­plain. With a Chrome­cast you can dis­play photos, videos or stream mu­sic from the in­ter­net, all on your TV. The dif­fer­ence lies in the fact that to do this you first need to send the in­for­ma­tion from an­other de­vice, be it a tablet, lap­top, or mo­bile phone, then the Chrome­cast goes and finds it on­line. The Chromebit on the other hand doesn’t need any help, as it’s a fully fledged browser plugged di­rectly into your tele­vi­sion. This means you can surf the web, cre­ate and edit doc­u­ments on Google Docs or Mi­crosoft Word On­line, go through your email, or catch up with peo­ple of so­cial me­dia, just as you would on a nor­mal Chrome­book or Win­dows PC.

Price

Hav­ing done away with a screen, key­board and touch­pad, the CS10 has also light­ened it­self of fi­nan­cial bur­den. At £89 from Ama­zon, it rep­re­sents very good value for money, es­pe­cially if you al­ready have a Blue­tooth key­board or mouse ly­ing around. The value ob­vi­ously di­min­ishes some­what if you need to ac­quire th­ese pe­riph­er­als, but it does of­fer you the free­dom to se­lect the typ­ing ex­pe­ri­ence you pre­fer, rather than be­ing stuck with the one that comes on your lap­top. There’s also the added ben­e­fit for those who own tablets, as Blue­tooth key­boards can also work with them. Of course, the Chromebit isn’t the only don­gle-style PC around, with In­tel of­fer­ing the Com­pute Stick for around £115, Hannspree’s PC on a Stick, and a fair col­lec­tion of An­droid based de­vices pop­ping up reg­u­larly, but the sim­plic­ity of ChromeOS ac­tu­ally makes it feel bet­ter suited to this sort of for­mat than its com­peti­tors.

De­sign

There’s not re­ally much to talk about in terms of de­sign with the Chromebit. In essence, it looks like a USB stick the size of a choco­late bar. At one end, un­der a re­mov­able cover, is the HDMI fit­ting to slots into your TV, in be­tween is a small, cir­cu­lar power in­put, and at the other end you’ll find a USB 2.0 port. No lights, but­tons, or other ephemera. Our re­view model came in black, but for those with a flair for the dra­matic there’s a bright orange al­ter­na­tive on its way.

As it might not al­ways be prac­ti­cal to have some­thing this long stick­ing straight out of the back of your TV, Asus has in­cluded two HDMI ca­bles that al­low you to po­si­tion the Chromebit in a way that best suits your needs. One is a short ex­ten­sion lead, while the other is a strong, bend­able holder that can be ad­justed to any an­gle, which is a nice touch.

Per­for­mance

Tra­di­tion­ally, Chrome­books have never re­ally been renowned for the abil­ity to set land speed data trans­mis­sion records. They’re cheap, cheer­ful, and get the job done for most nor­mal users’ needs. The Chromebit fol­lows this tem­plate, of­fer­ing a per­fectly ac­cept­able level of per­for­mance for gen­eral tasks. Stream­ing HD movies from

You can surf the web, cre­ate and edit doc­u­ments on Google Docs, go through your email or catch up with peo­ple of so­cial me­dia

the web or an at­tached USB de­vice pre­sented no dif­fi­cul­ties to the Chromebit, and we were able to work on writ­ing this re­view while stream­ing mu­sic in an­other tab with­out is­sue. Hav­ing sev­eral web pages open si­mul­ta­ne­ously though, es­pe­cially if they were im­age heavy sites, did mean things got bogged down. Face­book seemed a par­tic­u­lar prob­lem, so maybe it would be worth clos­ing that down when you’re not on the site if you want to keep things sprightly. The lack of pace could be due to the Rockchip quad-core RK3288C pro­ces­sor, but we sus­pect the ma­jor­ity of blame lies with the in­clu­sion of only 2GB of RAM, which does seem be­low the com­fort­able min­i­mum th­ese days.

One part of the per­for­mance that was more trou­ble than it needed to be was the ini­tial setup. In prin­ci­ple, it should have been very easy. You plug in the de­vice, turn it on, then turn on your Blue­tooth key­board and mouse, wait for them to at­tach, and you’re good to go. Un­for­tu­nately, it didn’t run that smoothly. On our first cou­ple of at­tempts one of our pe­riph­er­als would be recog­nised, but not the other. This was only rec­ti­fied by re­set­ting the de­vice, via the Power Wash func­tion, and start­ing again.

Even­tu­ally the de­vices could talk to each other and we were able to get go­ing, but we’d like to see a firmware update, or even com­po­nent change in fu­ture mod­els to en­sure a bet­ter first ex­pe­ri­ence. That be­ing said, we did try pow­er­ing the Chromebit down and back up to see if it would have the same prob­lems, but it found the Blue­tooth de­vices again with­out the need for any help.

Ver­dict

The main ques­tion about the Chromebit is what would you use it for? If you want to assem­ble a cheap home PC for ba­sic work and in­ter­net du­ties, plus you have a screen and pe­riph­er­als knock­ing around, then it’s an ex­cel­lent, cost-ef­fec­tive de­vice. Sim­i­larly, if you travel fre­quently and don’t want to watch movies on your lap­top when you get to a ho­tel, the Chromebit could plug into the back of a stan­dard TV and stream or play con­tent sim­ply and quickly. It’s not likely to re­place a full home PC or lap­top, although it’s pos­si­ble that if you at­tached a USB hub to the de­vice, then it could work as a nor­mal desk­top with wired pe­riph­er­als. This could make it a de­cent starter ma­chine for chil­dren, stu­dents, or any­one who just want to use the web on a big­ger screen. It has a few quirks, and the ini­tial setup needs work, but for less than a hun­dred pounds we think this one is a win­ner.

This could make it a de­cent starter ma­chine for chil­dren, stu­dents, or any­one who just want to use the web on a big­ger screen

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