Low-cost, with very good battery life

While the Asus C300M is the most affordable model in this roundup, the higher-end version with 4GB RAM and 32GB internal storage is advised. Its low-cost nature also comes with trade-offs.
While the Asus C300M is the most affordable model in this roundup, the higher-end version with 4GB RAM and 32GB internal storage is advised. Its low-cost nature also comes with trade-offs.PHOTO: ASUS

Asus' latest Chromebook Flip C302, a touchscreen convertible laptop designed for Android apps, was not released here in time for this roundup. Which is why I went for the Asus Chromebook C300M instead. It is an oldie - it came out a couple of years ago - but still holds up surprisingly well, performance-wise, against newer models.

This is probably because most Chromebooks are low-cost basic computers running a lightweight operating system that does not require powerful hardware.

The C300M scored 8,634 in the Octane browser benchmark, which is actually comparable to the Acer Chromebook R11 that was released late last year. The Asus' battery life is also very good at around 8hr.

Best of all, the C300M is the most affordable model here at $369. I would, however, advise getting the higher-end version with 4GB RAM and 32GB internal storage over my review set (2GB RAM and 16GB storage), because the former is just $30 more and the RAM will be useful when you have many open browser tabs.

  • TECH SPECS

  • PRICE: $369

    PROCESSOR: Intel Celeron N2830 (2.16GHz)

    GRAPHICS: Intel HD Graphics

    RAM: 2GB

    SCREEN SIZE: 13.3 inches, 1,366 x 768 pixels

    CONNECTIVITY: 1 x USB 3.0, 1 x USB 2.0, HDMI, SD card reader, audio jack

    BATTERY: 48 watt-hour


    RATINGS

    FEATURES: 3/5

    DESIGN: 3/5

    PERFORMANCE: 3/5

    VALUE FOR MONEY: 4/5

    BATTERY LIFE: 5/5

    OVERALL: 3/5

But you should be aware of the C300M's low-cost nature. Take its 13.3-inch display. Although both the Asus and the Dell Chromebooks use a twisted nematic (TN) screen, it is apparent from a side-by-side comparison that the Asus display is inferior. Colours are dull, viewing angles are limited and the screen is not as bright. The screen resolution is 1,366 x 768 pixels, which I consider the bare minimum for its size.

Its plastic chassis is not exactly thin, though it is slimmer than the Dell Chromebook.

Its lid and palm rest have a brushed metal-like appearance, but they, like the rest of this computer, are made of plastic. At around 1.4kg, it is reasonably light.

The touchpad is wide and comfortable to use, especially when browsing the Internet using ChromeOS' multi-touch gestures. The keyboard feels tactile with decent key travel.

However, it does flex slightly in the middle while typing.

As it is not a new Chromebook, the C300M does not currently have Google Play Store support. Google plans to roll out the feature to older models later.

Vincent Chang

• Verdict: An entry-level Chromebook that is suitable for those with a limited budget. It has decent performance and an excellent battery life.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 12, 2017, with the headline 'Low-cost, with very good battery life'. Print Edition | Subscribe