When ASUS Malaysia passed us the new VivoBook S15 S531F as well as the Chromebook Flip C434T, certainly the new Vivobook S15 is interesting in its own way but the Chromebook Flip is ASUS’s unique attempt to bring premium Chrome OS device to the local market.
Without further ado, let us go through the ASUS Chromebook Flip C434T which I have been using it daily since I got my hands on it 2 weeks ago. I’m sure many are curious what ASUS has to offer for the price of RM2399.
ASUS Chromebook Flip C434T
As the name, “Flip”, suggests, this is a convertible laptop where the hinge is capable of 360-degree rotation. Which means you can use the Chromebook in four different setups – standard laptop mode, theatre mode, tent mode and tablet mode.
Personally, I think the touch experience is very dependent on the content you’re interacting. For instance, it works really well with Android apps but not to say the same with desktop optimised websites.
The Chromebook Flip has an exceptional build quality. The all-aluminium chassis provides a sturdy usage experience while looking remarkably sexy. The edges are chamfered and the sand-blasted finishing on the surface makes the Chromebook Flip a joy to handle. It weighs at just 1.45KG and 16mm thin, making it a wonderful laptop for travellers.
Display & Keyboard
The NanoEdge slim bezels allow the laptop to appear smaller than any other 14-inch laptops out there in the market. The 14-inch IPS panel has a full HD 1080p resolution and it supports capacitive touch. For multimedia consumption, the wide viewing angle and 100% sRGB colour space are not going to disappoint unless you’re hoping for an ultra-high-end panel for content creation which might prove to be a challenge on limited OS functionalities and hardware capabilities on this Chromebook.
Moving towards the keyboard section, the layout is obviously different from your regular keyboard because it is designed for Chrome OS in mind. The lack of a left Windows key allows both CTRL and ALT keys to stretch out. The caps lock key has been replaced by the Search key which works as bringing up the App panel. On the other hand, the function row is pretty much replaced by the shortcut keys.
The keyboard has while LED-backlit, unfortunately, you can’t disable or adjust the brightness. Nonetheless, it is not blindingly bright and I have no qualms over it. As for the typing experience, it feels just as nice as many other laptops out there. The standard scissors switch with membrane contact under the well-sized keycaps provides a good travel distance and feedback.
As for the trackpad, I’m rather surprised by the accuracy of the finger tracking as well as the gestures’ response. It is honestly as good as the Windows Precision Driver. The physical left/right-click buttons are found underneath the trackpad. The click mechanism is less sophisticated than what I’m expecting from a premium Chromebook. Don’t get me wrong, the trackpad buttons work fine, just that I was looking forward to a refined experience.
Smaller laptops usually sacrifice connectivity for a slimmer chassis. Sometimes, manufacturers set to lose more than what we should in order to attain that few millimetres of thickness reduction. We’re glad the Chromebook Flip C434T did not go down the same route as MacBooks with its IO ports.
- USB 3.1 Gen 1 Type-C (5Gbps)
- USB 3.1 Gen 1 Type-A (5Gbps)
- 3.5mm audio combo jack
- volume rocker
- power button
- microSD card reader
- USB 3.1 Gen 1 Type-C (5Gbps)
Chromebook User Experience
When I first got my hands on the Chromebook Flip, the first question that comes to my mind was how should I review this laptop without being obsessed with numbers and benchmarks like what we usually did with other laptops. Chromebooks have a whole different way of interpreting mobile computing especially how it specifically tackles our modern Internet lifestyle.
In order to test out the laptop’s capabilities, I have brought the Chromebook Flip as my primary computer during my trip to Singapore for the Acronis #CyberFit & Formula 1 Racing Week. It was a 6-days trip and to be completely honest with you, deciding to bring a non-Windows or non-MacOS laptop on a solo work trip is making me nervous. What if I can’t get my article done? What if I needed that Photoshop template? All these questions kept popping up in my mind.
Turns out, as long as I have Internet connectivity, I can get my work done. Throughout the week, all my articles were churned out using the Chromebook Flip while on-the-go. I just turn on my mobile hotspot and get on to work on WordPress just like how I’ve done with any other laptops in the past.
The default apps that come pre-installed with the Chromebook are mostly web-apps, for example, when you click on the Google Docs icon, it will bring you to Google Chrome’s new tab loading docs.google.com. So if you want to have offline alternatives, thankfully, the Chrome OS supports Android application and through the Google Play Store, you can get whichever app that could work while offline. In this case, I have Microsoft Word as my alternative text editor.
The battery life on the ASUS Chromebook Flip is exceptional. It is probably one of the rare laptops where it actually meets the manufacturer’s claim – 10 hours. A single full charge could last you a single full workday use. Even with heavy YouTube streaming, I would still get 8 hours of battery life.
Charging is done through the USB-C port on either side.
The Chromebook has been around in Malaysia for quite some time now, despite so, we’re not seeing it picking up the pace. We can’t really blame on the manufacturer’s lack of promotion, just that we kind of understand their lack of confidence in Malaysian’s willingness to change. Not to mention Chromebook as been mostly marketed in the schools for educational purposes.
With that being said, this time, the launch of ASUS Chromebook Flip has definitely caught me off-guard. Not just because it has those premium Ultrabook build quality (at a premium price, of course), the overall user experience is actually very well defined and in line with our current Internet savvy lifestyle.
The display has great colour reproduction and wide viewing angle for multimedia content consumption. Besides, the convertible nature allows the laptop to be used in various modes either when you’re working or watching videos.
At the end of the day, if your work mostly requires an Internet browser, however you don’t want to spend a premium on an Ultrabook solely for the build and battery life, the ASUS Chromebook Flip will definitely match your requirement in this case. Otherwise, I see this as a niche product for those customers who know what they want and appreciate a well-built Chromebook.