Asus Chromebook Flip review

In today's open source roundup: Ars reviews the Chromebook Flip. Plus: System76 stops pre-installing Flash on Linux laptops. And the best Linux distros for beginners

Asus Chromebook Flip review

Chromebooks have been red-hot on Amazon's bestseller list for a long time, with many people defecting to Chromebooks from Windows and OS X laptops. The Asus Chromebook Flip is a convertible device that sells for $250. Ars Technica has a full review of the Chromebook Flip.

Andrew Cunningham reports for Ars Technica:

Every budget Chromebook has one or two upsides balanced by one or two downsides. In the Flip’s case, excellent construction and a nice screen are countered by a cramped keyboard and, to a somewhat lesser extent, mediocre performance.

For most people, we’d still recommend a Haswell Celeron Chromebook with 4GB of RAM for the best experience—Dell’s Chromebook 11 is available for around $250 these days and the Acer C720 isn’t much more expensive. The Asus Chromebook Flip really is much nicer looking and feeling than either of those two, but the total package feels just compromised enough to keep us from recommending it unless you want it specifically for the things it does well.

The good

Really nice design and build quality—it would be great in a laptop that cost two or three times as much.
IPS display has better color and viewing angles than most Chromebooks and Windows laptops in this price range.
Inexpensive. The 4GB version you want has an MSRP of about $279.
Touch isn’t crucial in Chrome OS, but it’s a handy value-added feature, as is the rotating hinge.
Good battery life.
Decent speakers.

The bad

A 10.1-inch screen feels pretty small, even compared to 11.6-inch screens.
You should probably steer clear of the 2GB version.
Performance isn’t as good as Chromebooks with Intel’s Haswell Celeron chips.

The ugly

Cramped keyboard and palmrest and small trackpad hamper input.

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Ars' readers had their own thoughts to share:

Digi99: "Spending money for a glorified web browser is about as stupid as paying for bottled water. Seriously, just get a real computer."

Kgersen: "You mean a Windows or Mac computer on which you'll only use a browser 100% of the time ? very smart indeed. Yeah suffer the bloat and cons of owning and using a 'real' OS just because, one day, you might need to do something outside a browser?

It's like buying then driving a truck every day just because one day you might need to move something big... The whole point of ChromeOS is about what people actually need and do most of the time not about what they might need very occasionally or even never.

It's a comprise between what you gain vs what you lose. Just lay down 2 columns with pros & cons of each and weight everything with usage time. "

Estebanated: "Thanks for the review of the Chromebook Flip. I have one myself and I noticed that you are actually using the accessibility keyboard in your screenshot, which happens to be much more cramped because it's meant to be used with a mouse/trackpad.

Instead, you can get a touch friendly compact keyboard simply by flipping the device into "tablet mode" and tapping a text field. In tablet mode, the device automatically deploys a touch friendly on screen keyboard, assuming you do not have the accessibility keyboard turned on. The compact keyboard has all the same emoji, autocorrect and handwriting features, as well.

Hope that helps with your use of the Flip! "

Boskone: "Mostly, I don't get the idea of a 10.1" laptop. Nor do I understand the constant release of "flipper" convertibles, as they increase the thickness of the tablet configuration with little advantage IMO over dockables (I loved my original-gen Asus Transformer). "

Baeocystin: "They are ideal bedputers. I have a folding cover for my kindle that lets me rest the weight of the device on my chest as I read before I go to sleep. If I fall asleep while reading, I won't smack myself in the face with a tablet. I also have an old C720, which I love, but non-backlit keys are inconvenient at night, in bed, and it's a little kludgy to use. As I'm coming up on the end of my two-year free storage from google deal, I'm strongly considering picking up a flip to carry on, and mostly for its folding/good screen."

Elseg: "My mom got a lower-end Samsung and I was actually impressed. I don't think I'd ever buy one as I have a legitimate need to run several virtual machines and do some pretty heavy development work, but I don't think people like us (Arsians) are the target audience. The offline support for Google's office suite seems to have come a long way, and that I think is making Microsoft nervous. Again, it's not meant to replace your specific need for Outlook, Sharepoint, etc., but for people whose only need is to browse the Facebook and send threatening emails to the UN, it is pretty ideal."

Theoilman: "Chrome books had a moment where they were a no brainer- great price, light, great battery life. The OS was a pro for some and a con for others, but on those hardware points they were clear winners. Now windows machines can match every single one of the hardware points, and chrome books only make sense if you specifically want Chromeos. My wife is going back to school this year for dental school and I got her an HP stream 11. That thing is really impressive. $180, amazingly light and thin, very good keyboard, all day battery life. Only complaint is an iffy track pad, but it's not too bad, and my wife uses a wireless mouse with it anyway. I put a 256gb sd card in it for her and she's good to go now. "

Baeocystin: "Advantages chromebooks have over windows or macs for a business environment:

* Cost. The most common one I deploy, the Acer C720, is ~$250. You will not find a windows laptop for the same price or cheaper. No reason to even mention mac.

* Instant boot, long battery life. Again, you will not find equivalent in windows or mac for anywhere near the same price.

* Security. 99%+ of the spyware out there targets windows or macs. This will likely change over time, but the OS model inherent in the chromebook approach is more secure.

* Lost machine? Not only is it cheap to replace, but the chance of it being stuffed full of Important Business Documents™ is much less than a regular laptop.

* Need to provision a replacement machine after someone lost theirs? Just hand them another one and tell them to log in. Boom. Done. This is a *big* improvement over other systems.

Geebs: "Like another poster in this thread, I'm a bit bemused about the supposed high sales of chromebooks given that I've never seen one either - and I remember seeing tons of netbooks when they were big. Similarly, I don't really get "you can use them to log in to an actual computer!" As a ringing endorsement for the chromeos ecosystem."

Sajuuk: "I like the constant use of "I've never seen one so they don't actually exist" logic when it comes to chromebooks. I have a c720 and I'm excited to upgrade to the Flip here; my chromebook is my dumb machine, it's for reddit, youtube, buying shit on amazon, and reading emails. They really do just work, and I probably don't have to worry about my mom being susceptible to the newest Windows/Flash 0-day. As for using ChromeOS over Android, well, when was the last time a non-nexus tablet received an actual update?"

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