The general perception around Google Chromebooks, irrespective of brand or how much it cost, is one that hovers around the premise of simple and uncomplicated computing. Students and e-learning are scenarios often mentioned. And so are folks who use the Google ecosystem of apps and services quite extensively. Absolutely true, but as things have evolved, that’s now just a smaller part of a much wider demographic that the platform attempts to attract. Asus doesn’t seem to be holding back either, with the new Asus Chromebook Flip C214, that is a adding a lot of coolness on the hardware side of things, to a simple yet versatile operating system. This comes with a stylus, can become a tablet, unique design with rubber bumpers and two cameras too. The Price? Rs 23,999.
What Is The Equation Of Power For Chromebooks? At first, the spec sheet may not really catch your attention, but I suggest you persist a bit. The Asus Chromebook Flip C214 is powered by an Intel Celeron N4020 chip and has 4GB RAM. For the frugality and simplicity of Google’s Chrome OS, this is absolutely not inadequate. And we build from that. The 11.6-inch display would be a great foundation for those who’ll eventually be traveling a lot, with this in tow. The resolution is 1366 x 768 pixels, and while I honestly remain undecided about Chrome OS’ flexibility as an entertainment device, we could have done with a few more pixels here. There’s 64GB internal storage, which to be honest, isn’t enough, but seems to be at par with the Chromebook ecosystem at large. The recommendation here is to use the microSD route to the fullest. You’ll get two USB-C ports, one full-size USB port and the 3.5mm headphone jack too. Yet, what stands out is the fact that the Asus Chromebook Flip C214 has two cameras. One is a traditional front facing camera that you’ll use for video calls and then there is one which sits on the keyboard deck. The idea for this placement being that when you flip the display completely back, this camera will be akin to something you have on your phone, facing the world. This might come in handy for students who might use augmented reality (AR) tools.
How Well Is It Built? There is something very different about the Asus Chromebook Flip C214. Yes, it looks like a pretty conventional laptop at first glance, but there’s a lot more when you look closely. The lid has a matte finish, patterned (Asus calls this 3D-textured), quite resistant to scratches and dare I say, slightly rubberized. Then there is the frame, very apparent in the different colour finish. Beneath this is a rubber bumper, which should ideally add another layer of protection against impacts, falls, dings or something hitting against the Chromebook, inside your backpack. The Asus Chromebook Flip C214 has a spill resistant keyboard too. Not that I’d recommend the bad habit of eating breakfast and sipping liquids anywhere near any laptop keyboard, this one just might be able to withstand some clumsiness from you, if you still insist. To be honest, not the lightest 11.6-inch computing device out there, but when I do pick this up, it feels lighter than the claimed 1.2kg. That can only be a good thing.
Is Chrome OS For Me? Now that is a million-dollar question. A lot of folks ask me this, often hoping to find an alternative to otherwise fairly underpowered Windows 10 laptops that often populate the width of their budget. It is the consistent sheer simplicity of the Chrome OS which continues to make it more than a compelling alternate to Windows 10 based laptops. Simplicity was the very foundation of Chrome OS many years ago, and while things have become more vibrant since, Google hasn’t really tinkered with the basics that have worked all along. The general perception about Chrome OS and Chromebooks is that they are really only relevant if you’re invested heavily in Google’s app ecosystem—Gmail, Drive, Docs, Photos, Meet etc. But that couldn’t be further from the truth, particularly as things have evolved. All said and done, Google’s own apps and services will be available up front, and that’s to be expected. The Chromebook preinstalls Gmail, Google Assistant, Google Chrome, Google Drive, YouTube, Google Docs and Google Calendar, to name a few.
Chrome OS has almost everything that you have gotten used to in a Windows PC over time, and everything has been improved too over time—a desktop, a proper file explorer, a download manager, and full-fledged apps on a Play Store that’s buzzing more than ever. Microsoft 365 productivity suite, Microsoft OneDrive, Dropbox, Evernote, Apple Music, Spotify, Amazon Prime Video, Netflix, Microsoft Teams, Zoom, Adobe Lightroom, Canva, Microsoft Outlook and AutoCad, to name a few. If you think that Chrome OS and Chromebook represent a compromise, a lighter experience compared with Windows laptops in terms of the width and variety of apps being available, that isn’t entirely true. There are more than 1 million apps available, and the fact that Chrome OS can run apps designed for Android phones, makes for a seamless transition.
But Is An 11.6-inch Screen Large Enough? This is something I’ve asked buyers to contemplate, since comfort with screen sizes and the sort of apps you use, are subjective. There cannot be any single-size-fits-all solution. The Asus Chromebook Flip C214 gets you a 11.6-inch touchscreen with a fairly basic 1366 x 768-pixel resolution. Not much, if Netflix in HD or 4K was your expectation. But this does give you a pretty vibrant canvas for most productivity tasks. And the lesser pixels there are to illuminate, the better it is for battery life. For most users who may simply need a compact laptop to carry around for quick access to emails, working on documents and more, this helps tick off the portability aspect too. The fact that the display can go all the way back means it can become a sort of a tablet, if you’re okay with one that’s so heavy. A smaller screen size such as this may not work well in some usage scenarios, and you need to be sure about your workflow apps and requirements before taking the plunge.
The Last Word: Does A Chromebook Work For You?
The Asus Chromebook Flip C214 definitely makes a very valid and noticeable attempt to add some cool hardware quotient to the simplicity of Chrome OS. The operating system itself is evolving, and with the display that allows this laptop to be used in the tent mode or tablet mode, as well as the dual cameras, adds a lot of versatility and value. Particularly in the long-term. You shouldn’t baulk at the fact that this runs an Intel Celeron N4020 processor, because it is more than enough for the software it runs. There is 4GB RAM and 64GB internal storage with memory card support for up to 2TB more. What doesn’t change is that you still need to consider whether Chrome OS, even though it is more vibrant than ever before, still works for your workflow and with the software you regularly use. If it does, the Asus Chromebook Flip C214 can be considered if a compact display works for you. The rugged build, strong battery life and the good keyboard will add to the experience.