Otherwise, the 1080p screen is sharp and bright, and it looks better than I'd expect for a computer in this price range. The only real downside is that running at the native 1080p resolution makes everything a little too small, but scaling things down makes some UI elements a little fuzzy. I generally stuck with the lower setting and accepted the fact that not everything on the screen was pixel-perfect sharp.
While the larger screen doesn't make the new Chromebook Flip much bigger than the previous model, it is still larger, thicker and heavier. The Flip weighs in at 3.2 pounds, more than half a pound more than the older model. It's a strange design choice, because like its predecessors, the Flip has 360-degree hinge, which lets you flip the computer into tablet, tent and stand modes. But the utility of a 3-plus pound tablet seems questionable at best.
I already felt like the last Chromebook Flip was a little too big to be used as a convertible, and now it's definitely too big. I personally find little utility in tent or stand configurations, but the size at least isn't an impediment to using the Flip in those modes. But it is just too big and heavy to use as a tablet. At this point, the 360-degree hinge is just making the computer more expensive without offering any useful features. But even if ASUS just went with a traditional clamshell laptop hinge, the Flip would still feel clunky for a modern laptop, particularly since its low-power Intel M3 processor doesn't need a fan. At the very least, the hinge is strong and stable and feels like it'll hold up to repeated flips over time.
Those complaints aside, using the new Flip purely as a laptop is an enjoyable experience — ASUS once again paired a nice display with a good keyboard and trackpad. The backlit buttons have plenty of travel and remind me a lot of the keyboard on my old MacBook Air. There's no learning curve or adjustment period, which is a delight in this era of ultra-shallow keyboards. The trackpad isn't quite as large or responsive as what you'll find on new MacBooks or the best Windows laptops, but it didn't slow me down either.
As far as specs go, the Chromebook Flip pairs an eighth-generation Intel Core M3 processor with 64GB of storage and 4GB of RAM. While I think that an M3 CPU is enough for most things people do with Chromebooks, having only 4GB of memory occasionally felt limiting.
My typical workload involves between 10 and 20 open browser tabs along with apps like Todoist, Keep, Slack, Trello and Tweetdeck. That all mostly ran fine, but music playing from the Spotify Android app would occasionally skip when I jumped between windows. And there wasn't enough RAM to keep all my browser tabs loaded, so sometimes I'd be stuck waiting for a page to refresh. That's the kind of thing that happened frequently on older iPads, but it's not something I see often when using the full version of Chrome.
You can upgrade the Flip to a faster Y-series i5 or i7 processor and double the RAM and storage to 8GB and 128GB, respectively, though it's unclear right now how much that'll cost. While I'd probably just stick with the default processor and storage, I would definitely shell out for more RAM. That said, people who do a little less multitasking could probably get by with the base model.
One place where the new Flip definitively trumps the old model is battery life -- this is one of the better Chromebooks I've tested in that regard. I'm getting around nine hours per charge, while I struggled to get seven from the previous Flip. It's one of those laptops I can just toss in my bag for the day and never really have to worry about charging, which is freeing. And when it runs dry, the USB-C charger can juice the Flip back up in about an hour.