After years of being in the background of Windows laptops, Chromebooks are finally having their moment in the sun. According to data released by Canalys, Chromebooks saw the strongest growth in shipments to the PC market globally in the first quarter of 2021. For a product like this, which is often lost in translation, growth of 275% year-on-year is, just phenomenal. The same research company rates Chromebooks as outperforming the rest of the PC product categories in Q2 as well.
So why is the Chromebook flying off the shelves during a pandemic? The reason is very simple. It turns out it was made for that.
So it’s no surprise that Asus wants a piece of the pie. Measuring customer interest and pent-up demand, the Taiwanese brand launched not one, not two, not three, but six Chromebook models in India. All at the same time. These Chromebooks – Chromebook Flip C214, Chromebook C223, Chromebook C423 (touch and non-touch variants), and Chromebook C523 (touch and non-touch variants) – may meet different use cases, but they have one thing in common. Their prices are very, very aggressive starting at 17,999 rupees.
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The most expensive Flip C214 of the lot costs Rs 23,999. It does a few other things that are unique to this model to justify the price hike obviously, but the real star of the show is Chrome OS, a built operating system. by Google. Identical to the other five models. It is important to bring this to the fore, because this operating system is what is going to be the key in deciding whether or not you want to buy one of these laptops. The material, the look and the feel, they are all secondary.
So let’s talk a bit about Chrome OS first.
Chrome OS is a web operating system designed primarily to run web applications. A significant portion of the tasks you would want to accomplish there can be done in the Chrome browser itself. By extension, most of your data will reside in the cloud, which will also make it accessible on multiple devices, including smartphones and tablets with a Google account.
It is also possible to download and install Android apps on it from the Play Store. It goes without saying that it works best with Google’s own apps and services. Think of Gmail, Meet, Docs, Drive, Photos, and YouTube. But that doesn’t mean that third-party apps like Word and Photoshop don’t perform well on it. Because they do.
Can you use a Chromebook without the internet? Yes you can, but the experience won’t be ideal. You will need the internet at least at some point to be able to make everything work seamlessly. Offline access is not recommended. Which brings us to the most important question. Who is it for ?
Chromebooks are primarily designed for students and the reason they’re so successful today is because they allow for a hassle-free experience during online lessons, compared to a Windows machine. Almost everyone has a Google account. Most Google apps and services are free. Even better if you know an Android phone, because then you will be right at home with a Chromebook. They’re like a one-stop-shop for all your needs – from video calling, document sharing and editing, calendaring and messaging, it’s all under one roof.
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But more importantly, working on a Chromebook is easy. There might be a bit of a learning curve if you’ve used Windows, but it’s not rocket science like let’s say running macOS. The setup is simple. Start-up times are almost non-existent. And the thing automatically updates in the background, giving you space and time to do what you intend to do with it: learn and collaborate. An entry-level price, like the one Asus charges for a Chromebook like the Flip C214, makes it more accessible. Keep in mind that there are also more powerful and expensive Chromebooks out there, although for some reason brands – including Asus – are reluctant to bring them to India.
That being said, let’s talk about the Flip C214. The first thing to know is the build quality. It is built and styled like a tank. With its round rubber bumpers and reinforced hinges, this laptop meets US Military Grade or MIL-STD-810G durability standards. It has a spill-resistant and tamper-resistant keyboard that Asus says is designed to last up to 10 million keystrokes. Despite all this, it is very light and compact and easy to carry.
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Asus designed this thing for the long haul, which is impressive, especially considering the price. Design and durability are often overlooked in many super budget laptops. It’s nice to see Asus making a conscious effort to make changes in this market. Visually, too, the Flip C214 is one of a kind. Best of all, it’s also a convertible laptop, which means it can be propped up from multiple angles so it can easily turn into a tablet when needed. . This makes it an even more attractive proposition, more profitable if you will.
Then the Flip C214 has an 11.6-inch 16: 9 touchscreen with HD resolution – a must-have for this type of laptop. I wish the bezels were smaller and the resolution a bit higher, but overall it’s a nice set with enough brightness and decent viewing angles. Most of the time, you’ll be using this laptop indoors, so it’s safe to say it should get the job done.
The same goes for the basic hardware. Under the hood, this laptop features a dual-core Intel Celeron N4020 processor paired with 4GB LPDDR4 RAM and 64GB eMMC 5.1 storage, expandable up to 2TB via a micro-SD card slot. This is more than enough for the type of workload this laptop is designed for and it performs well in this area. The 50 Wh battery inside this laptop is designed to provide up to 11 hours of use on a single charge. Battery life is easily one of its biggest strengths. The laptop is charged via USB Type-C.
Connectivity options on the Flip C214 include 2 x USB 3.1 Gen 1 Type-C (up to 5 Gbps, DisplayPort and power support), 1 x USB 3.1 Gen 1 Type-A (up to 5 Gbps) and an audio combo jack. It supports dual band Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 5. This laptop comes with a 720p webcam and another 5MP “world-facing” autofocus camera to click photos in tablet mode. To complete the set, two speakers provide decent sound.
Final thoughts on the Asus Chromebook Flip C214
The Flip C214 is by far the best entry-level Chromebook on the Indian market today. It offers great value for money, which also makes it a great option for Windows users. Let’s face it, most Windows machines at this price point are generally slow and have a boring design. Then there is the versatility part. No Windows machine at this price is this versatile either.
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But what I like most about a Chromebook like the Flip C214 is that it has a very clear target audience. He doesn’t try to be a jack of all trades. Rather than the material itself, it’s more about what it represents. It’s a window of opportunity for students. He’s a great facilitator. It’s time for more people to start talking about it.
Benefits: Solid build quality, compact form factor, 360 degree hinge, Chrome OS simplicity, good battery life
The inconvenients: Nothing