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Chromebooks are not a new concept, but they have begun catching steam only recently in India, driven by a pandemic-induced increase in the demand for affordable laptops as well as higher internet penetration. The Asus Chromebook Flip C214 is a valiant effort at capturing this fledgling segment, and at a price of Rs 23,999, it comes very close to achieving that.
It is one of the four maiden Chromebooks Asus launched recently, and all of them should offer a similar experience on different form factors — long battery life, a simple interface, instant wake, a browser-first operating system and a low price tag of Rs 17,999. The Chromebook Flip C214 is the best of the bunch, making it an easy recommendation for students or internet workers.
Asus Chromebook Flip C214 at Amazon for $379.99
Asus says that it has been designed keeping young users in mind, and that can be seen in the design. While not particularly premium, the entire body is made of plastic with rubber on the edges and corners to be invincible to accidental hits or drops. Similarly, the keyboard is spill-resistant.
The compact body of the Asus Chromebook Flip C214 houses an 11.6-inch LED touchscreen with a matte finish. The specs might not suggest so, the display gets plenty bright for outdoor viewing and has good viewing angles. The HD resolution shows its limitations sometimes, but apart from that, it’s a great, vivid and responsive panel.
The internals might seem modest, but it was plenty powerful for most of our work. This is primarily thanks to Chrome OS and how frugal it is. Built around the Chrome web browser and Android, it is an easier interface than Windows or Mac OS, and far more capable than Android or iOS. Yes, there are still limitations and app compatibility issues, but we’d still recommend a Chromebook to anyone looking for their first computer.
Our favourite feature of the Asus Chromebook Flip C214 was its battery life. It consistently lasted us through an entire day of work with ease. There’s also support for fast charging via the USB Type-C ports, further reducing hassles. And with instant wake, you’ll waste even lesser time to get started with work.
There’s really not much to hate about the Chromebook Flip C214. It’s suitable for e-learners, remote workers, road warriors and even binge-watchers. Unless your work depends on apps that are only available on Windows or Mac OS, we implore you to consider Chromebooks as an option to assist your productivity without breaking the bank.
Asus Chromebook Flip C214 pricing and availability
In India, the Asus Chromebook Flip C214 is priced at Rs 23,999 and comes in a single 4GB+64GB variant. It will be available on Flipkart starting July 22 along with its siblings, viz. the Chromebook C223, Chromebook C423, and Chromebook C523, with the screen size and optional touchscreen being the biggest difference amongst them.
Asus Chromebook pricing
ModelPrice in IndiaFlip C214 Rs 23,999C223Rs 17,999C423Rs 19,999C423 (touch)Rs 23,999C523Rs 20,999C523 (touch)Rs 24,999
Design and display
Upon first glance, the Asus Chromebook Flip C214 looks quite unassuming with its grey-coloured plastic body and small footprint, but that is precisely what Asus wanted to achieve with this laptop that is meant for students.
This ruggedized convertible is 19.5mm thick and weighs 1.2 kg, which are standard measures for a machine in this class. However, it has been built to take a beating. For example, both the lid and the base have a rubber bumper edge to protect it from hits and bumps. Similarly, the hinge has added reinforcements while the keys have no gaps for liquid damage or tampering.
On a particularly busy morning, we accidentally dropped some cereal and milk on the keyboard and escaped unharmed. The Chromebook is also MIL-STD 810G certified against drops, shocks, pressure, humidity and other day-to-day abuse. We used it in light rains, extreme heat and muddy environments without worries. Though, we did notice that the places where two panels of plastic would meet collected dirt easily.
Opening the lid of the Chromebook Flip C214, we’re greeted with a keyboard the stretches from edge to edge, a wide trackpad under it and a secondary 5MP world-facing webcam that can be used to click pictures or show the surroundings.
The keys aren’t too small and provide enough travel to allow for quick typing. There’s no deck flex either, which is a common complaint with keyboards on cheaper laptops. The trackpad isn’t the smoothest but it’s quite responsive. Since Chrome OS works with swipes and touches, the trackpad can make or break the experience.
The keyboard layout seems well thought out with the function row replaced by the most commonly used shortcuts and a universal search button along with Google Assistant — which can be useful to quickly lookup something. However, there are no Delete or Caps Lock keys.
Then there’s the 11.6-inch LED screen with thick bezels on all four sides. It isn’t the sharpest at 1366 x 768, but it was almost always plenty for the tasks it is intended to do. What we really liked was the matte texture on top and ample brightness, making it one of the few laptops that can be used outdoors.
Chrome OS is inherently far more intuitive and touch-friendly than Windows, so it comes as no surprise that the Asus Chromebook Flip C214 follows suit. The touchscreen is very responsive but the thick edges that protrude beyond the display can make hitting targets around the sides (such as closing browser tabs) a little difficult. There’s some display wobble but nothing that would make scrolling and swiping difficult.
Apart from these quirks, the laptop has a pretty decent display with good brightness and colour accuracy. The keyboard is fine — easy to get used to but lacks backlighting.
Performance and software
The Asus Chromebook Flip C214 is powered by the dual-core Intel Celeron N4020 processor with 4GB of LPDDR4 RAM and 64GB of eMMC storage. While those might sound like very feeble specs in 2021, Chrome OS is a very efficient and frugal operating system that doesn’t need a lot to run smoothly — unlike Windows.
We entered this review with little expectations but were pleasantly surprised at how well it held up through most of our work. For moderately intensive workflows such as using the Google suite of office applications, emails, data analysis and operating the CMS, it never really slowed down or took much longer than our usual Windows desktop.
Moreover, Chrome OS has a lot of additions that make browser-specific work much more efficient. For example, the clipboard to copy and paste text and links can have up to five entries stored, greatly reducing the number of clicks and switches needed to get the job done. The download manager is very well designed to show all files in an organized manner and easily accessible from the taskbar. Voice search via Google Assistant is also just a couple of clicks away.
All quick settings and toggles can be found in the system tray on the bottom right. Android users will feel right at home with options such Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, VPN, screen capture, Nearby Share and others. All notifications are lined up above this menu and can be swiped away just like a smartphone.
On the right side of the Chromebook Flip C214 are the power button and volume rocker. This split layout makes the buttons easier to find even when using the laptop in the tent mode or tablet configuration.
The port selection is also pretty exhaustive, with one USB 3.1, two USB Type-C 3.1 with support for power delivery as well as DisplayPort, a micro SD card slot, an audio jack and a Kensington lock. Quick data transfer speeds coupled with a simple file management system make it great for offloading a bunch of files with ease.
Of course, all of that is irrelevant if Chrome OS isn’t right for you. Think of it as a simple operating system that builds upon the best bits from Android and Windows, with the ease of the former and the functionality of the latter. It’s built around the Google Chrome browser, so if that’s where most of your work happens, you’ll be fine. It also has access to the Play Store for applications and Chrome’s webstore for extensions and plugins, giving users a lot of scope for expansion of functionality — as long as they have internet connectivity.
The only notable app missing from our daily needs was Slack. But since it has a very capable browser version, we can let that pass. For students who rely on their phones for e-learning, a Chromebook is a no-brainer. It’s easy to use, reliable and rugged in the right ways, yet capable enough to match what they’d need from a computer. Unless there are software programs you need that are available only in Windows, you should be good to go.
Another advantage of a Chromebook is how they are always awake and connected — just like a smartphone! They don’t need to be shut down nor do they consume power while sleeping. All apps and web pages stay where they were left, and launching them is a breeze. Furthermore, they can be connected to a smartphone to attend calls, notifications or even toggle the Wi-Fi hotspot.
Another major advantage of a Chromebook is how efficient they are. With a 50Whr battery, the Asus Chromebook Flip C214 offers incredible battery life, easily lasting for over a day. We’re looking at close to 10-12 hours of use per charge, which is very rare. Moreover, unlike Windows laptops, the estimated power left was actually accurate. You should be able to eke an hour’s worth of work even at 10%.
A 45W charger comes included with the laptop, which takes about an hour and a half for a full charge — regardless of whether it is being used or not. Charging can be done via either of the USB Type-C ports and supports most standards, but not all of our high-wattage smartphone adapters delivered power.
Should you buy the Asus Chromebook Flip C214?
You’re in the market for an affordable laptop
A Chromebook at this price will be far more responsive than an affordable Windows laptop and easily last for 4-5 years.
Most of your work happens on the web
With a lot of work happening on browsers these days, a Chromebook is better suited for such users, greatly aiding workflow efficiency.
Battery life is a priority
Cheap thin and light laptops seldom offer great battery life, but the Asus Chromebook Flip C214 is an exception to that axiom.
Don’t buy if…
Your apps are not available on Chrome OS
Chromebooks aren’t for everyone as there are quite a few mainstream professional programs that are not supported.
You want a bigger screen
The 11.6-inch display on the Asus Chromebook Flip C214 can easily feel inadequate if you try to do a lot of things at once. Consider the Chromebook C523 instead.
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