The ASUS Chromebook Flip C302 does just about everything right -- battery, screen, keyboard and performance are all good to excellent. For less than $500, this is probably the best Chromebook on the market right now.
- Comfortable keyboard and trackpad
- Good display
- Strong performance
- Thin, light and attractive design
- Battery life could be better
- Android app compatibility is still in beta and could use a little work
This review is for the Core m3, 8GB ram, 64gb memory version of the C302CA (GU003) that I received today (30th Jan 2017) in the UK through CCL. I've owned a Dell Chromebook 11 (1st gen, 4gb ram) for almost 3 years and used it as my daily driver throughout until today. I've also owned an Asus Chromebox (also 4gb ram), but gave it to a family member as I rarely used it--my Chromebook 11 was just quicker to open my chromebook than turn on the tv. First impressions/unboxing: nicely packed in a typically functional but well designed Asus box containing the laptop, power supply, a screen cloth and some of the usual literature. The C302CA is a beautiful, pretty slim, full aluminium body laptop with 2x USB-C connectors (one either side), with a headphone jack, power button and volume rocker on the left side, and a single micro-SD slot on the right--I'd prefer a full size SD slot, but OK--and speaker vents on either side. Its top down footprint is surprisingly close to the Dell, albeit somewhat thinner, but it looks much larger in use than its 12.5" screen suggests. Very light and very portable. First use: Getting it up and running on Wifi and your Google account (same old) is fast and easy, but you have to connect to the power supply before it will boot the first time. It came with chrome os 53 stable, and I switched immediately to the beta channel for tow reasons. 1. that's the channel I've been using mostly (I've tried dev with crouton, but it wasn't great on my Dell--given the specs here, I expect the dev and crouton to be significantly improved); 2. The android Play Store appears properly! The full HD 1080p screen looks great, but you need to access the settings to get the display to move into 1080x1920. Very sharp images and nice colour reproduction with strong brightness (300 nits they say at full) and good contrast. I took it outside and it still seemed pretty sharp. Streaming different sections of Interstellar from Amazon Prime looked great at 1080p bit rate. Flipping into tent and tablet mode then back to laptop had no effect on the screen performance. Pretty impressive. The screen has some wobble on touch input while in laptop or 'film' modes, but it's acceptably slight, and touch accuracy is excellent even with the small symbols at 1080p (something El goog really need to adjust in chromeos). similarly, the tracking for swipes and pinch/zoom works well. The keyboard is chiclet style, well spaced, with good travel and nicely backlit with characters, symbols and key surrounds all lit with appropriate highlighting of certain locations on the keyboard. OK, the lighting could be better and would be excellent were it more like the Chromebook Pixel 2015's contextual backlight, but it's great to have and one reason I chose this over, say, the Samsung Pro (not released but I could have waited a couple of months). I'd say, as good as the key travel is, they're a little light on first touch. However, I am very used to the Dell Chromebook 11 keys and the typing experience was a 'key' reason to purchase that at the time. The trackpad is a good size and very responsive, with seemingly excellent palm rejection. It's definitely not glass, but it's still very accurate and satisfying with good touch and full click response, and all the usual swipes and double finger clicks. Speakers and sound: at first I was unimpressed. I like the idea of side firing speakers, but they seemed a little light. I am used to bottom firers and, once I got my head around the difference, I came to like these. There's very little distortion even at full, but no bass (unsurprisingly), which quickly becomes wearing. Quiet room and you can hear pretty much anything anyone says in a film or documentary. I've been playing Orbital's rather lunatic 'Middle of Nowhere', streamed from Google Play Music, and it's very listenable at 75-85% volume. Play store and apps: In fairness, it's too early to say, but there are some interesting bits of functionality that have been missing from the Chromebook experience that this brings up. The Skype android app is installed and seems to work, but I need to test this properly. It's things like this that I want to explore, and why I've upgraded. Final thoughts: Real life performance is excellent, very smooth and there's nothing I can identify yet to suggest otherwise.A couple of Octane scores were in the 21000s (about 80% higher than my Dell), Jetstream posted 125-126, Motionmark 121 and Speedometer 93. Battery life seems about right with first day usage from full charge--about 5 hours of mixed usage, including all benchmarks--leaving 55% and 5 hours 30. Only time will tell, but thus far it's been a pretty impressive Chromebook experience.