Asus Chromebook Flip C302CA (£600)
Chrome OS isn’t only reserved for bargain basement laptops: the Asus Chromebook Flip goes for a premium design and feel that you’d normally only expect from expensive machines running Windows.
For starters, it looks fantastic, with a metal case and screen that can fold all the way back to become a tablet. Asus has turned out plenty of quality Windows hybrids in the past, so it’s no surprise that the C302CA converts so effortlessly. Sturdy hinges hold the screen at any angle, but are easy to adjust without much force.
Once the touchscreen goes past 180 degrees, the keyboard is disabled, and applications expand smoothly to fill the screen. Install the Google Play Store and you can run any Android app flawlessly. At 1.2kg it’s just about light enough to use one-handed, too.
Chrome OS doesn’t need powerful hardware to run smoothly, but it practically flies here thanks to the dual-core Intel Core M3-6Y30 CPU - a big step up from the Celerons you’d normally find in a Chromebook. Apps launch quickly, complex websites stay lag-free, and animations are super smooth and slick - think iPad slick.
You’ll get about 7 hours 30 minutes of video playback from a full charge, which isn’t the best out there, but still enough for a full working day of use between top-ups.
This being a new Chromebook, you get all of the ports you’d expect, including dual USB 3.1 Type-C for charging, peripherals and external displays. There's also a microSD card reader if you want to cheaply expand on the integrated 64GB of internal storage, which is plenty given that your data is stored in the cloud.
The glossy, Full HD display is gorgeous, with bright and vibrant colours, and fantastic viewing angles - important if you’ll be using tablet mode a lot.
It excels in laptop mode, too, thanks to the Chiclet-style keyboard and large touchpad. You get plenty of travel and firm feedback from the keys, plus smooth scrolling and multi-touch gestures that actually work on the touchpad.
OK, at £600, the C302CA is expensive for a Chromebook. When you think what you’re getting, though, it’s good value overall. A premium laptop, high-quality display, smooth experience and excellent keyboard and mouse, that also converts into a tablet? If you want the ultimate and most flexible Chromebook, this is it.
STUFF SAYS ★★★★★
Asus has nailed what makes a perfect Chromebook: a top screen, excellent keyboard and brilliant chassis, all available for a great price
Asus Chromebook Flip C302CA in figures Operating system: Chrome OS • Screen: 12.5in 1920x1080 • Processor: Dual-core Intel Core M3-6Y30 • RAM: 4GB • Storage: 64GB plus microSD • Weight: 1.2kg