back to article Small wonder, little competition: Asus Chromebook Flip

Asus’s new Chromebook Flip isn’t the first touchscreen Chromebook we’ve fondled here at The Register. That accolade belongs to the Lenovo N20p. But since the N20p has been discontinued in the UK, Asus needn't worry about its new convertible being overshadowed by it. Asus Chromebook Flip Asus' new Netb – sorry, Chromebook …

  1. jason 7


    If you are going old school with 1200x800 why not just go 1440x900?

    Baffling these design decisions.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Hmmm

      "Considering the inherent limitations of Chrome OS"

      Surely for this money you can get a proper Windows laptop theses days? Chrome isn't exactly an appealing option in that case.

      1. VinceH

        Re: Hmmm

        "Surely for this money you can get a proper Windows laptop theses days? Chrome isn't exactly an appealing option in that case."

        Indeed. I needed a cheap laptop in a hurry the other week, and I grabbed a 15" Toshiba Satellite something or other running Win8 for £219. It's nothing special (only a Celeron running at 2.16GHz, 4Gig RAM and a 500Gig HD), but it's coping with everything thrown at it so far.

        1. jason 7

          Re: Hmmm

          I see customers with these sub £300 machines. All of them I've had in struggle. Really nasty.

          To get them working smoothly you need to slap in a SSD minimum.

          I would take a Chromebook over them every time. Quick start and snappy browsing etc.

          A cheap Windows laptop needs a proper CPU and a SSD to really compete IMO.

          Minimum spend for a new Windows laptop is still £400-£450 for me.

        2. Voland's right hand Silver badge

          Re: Hmmm

          Mine are all in this category, just AMD.

          They can take 8G+ RAM (regardless of what the spec sheet says) and they fly once you stick a SSD or a hybrid drive.

          I would never take a cheap Intel as it will be hobbled on multiple fronts - RAM (it is limited by what the spec says, if it says 4G it stays 4G) and GPU.

          I have a single ARM Chromebook with real Debian (not Chrouton). It is actually a fairly decent machine. 5h battery life when working, all day conference use. _NO_ compatibility issues either. You apt-get what you need and use it :)

      2. Anonymous Coward

        Re: Hmmm

        A 'proper Windows laptop', but what's the 'proper Windows' to run on it? 7 is old hat - retro without being stylish, 8 is terrible, 8.1 slightly less terrible and 10 is a laughable mess; no-one with any personal data at all will ever feel comfortable running it.

        It's a strange world when Google's beaten roundly on data hoovering, flakiness and privacy invading, but here we are in 2015.

        1. Danny 14

          Re: Hmmm

          We bought a number of asus H100 for £240 some time ago (they are much cheaper now), they are tablets with an detachable keyboard. Ours are running full fat 8.1 enterprise and connected to the domain. Keyboard has a full size USB and there is a HDMI and micro USB on the main screen portion. Keyboard has no issues being detached/reattached as necessary and the keyboard has a trackpad so you can use the touchscreen or trackpad as appropriate. People tend to use both depending on what they are doing. Had no issues running them as a normal domain machine here.

          We also have a number of fujitsu A514's that have SSDs in them, they were sub £330 (all inc vat).

    2. ROC

      Re: Hmmm (screen resolution)

      Actually, as with any other Chromebook I have checked, it can be "bumped" up to a higher resolution, and, as I recall from the store model I checked, your wished-for 1440x900 is the higher res option.

      Any of the other models with 1366x768 as "best" resolution have offered 1536x864 (something like that - a weird pair of numbers that must have some technical basis for the same 16:9 ratio for a "wide-screen" video format?) as the high-res option. I used my Samsung 3 in that mode most of the time while I had it - I hate minimal vertical pixels for web pages and text, which is what I mostly look at on computer monitors of any sort, not "video" since I use a TV for that (and they still have those damn letterbox black borders at top and bottom...)..

  2. sabroni Silver badge

    you only get 16GB of storage, or just under 10GB after system requirements.

    Chrome OS takes 6GB? Don't lightweight Linux's run in under a gig? How did they manage to use that much?

    1. Fungus Bob

      Re: you only get 16GB of storage, or just under 10GB after system requirements.

      I think they're talking about storage space, not RAM use.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: you only get 16GB of storage, or just under 10GB after system requirements.

      1 gig for Linux; 1 gig for Chrome on top and 4 gig to cache all your personal data whilst it's being uploaded to google servers.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: you only get 16GB of storage, or just under 10GB after system requirements.

        I think you are mistaking it for Windows 10...presumably you have a Microsoft background?

  3. Warm Braw

    Do I detect a trend?

    I still have a 10" 768 x 1366 laptop that I find a convenient form factor for those occasions when I have to carry a "traditional" computing environment around (well, give or take the exceptionally large and ugly power brick that rather spoils the experience).

    The problem with the Chromebook/Stream model is that they can't replace a tablet (too bulky) or a laptop (17GB of available storage isn't really useful if you want to do serious stuff offline) and for most of your "cloudy" interactions on the move your phone will suffice.

    In my dreams can see a model where they might work - where every conceivable application runs in some nebulous computing fabric accessed via unlimited and ubiquitous wireless networks. In my nightmares I imagine how I might be charged for the privilege.

    There's still an awful lot to be said for having your own stuff on your own device under your own control and being able to use it when you want to and without giving it away and having to rent it back.

    1. jason 7

      Re: Do I detect a trend?

      Well amazingly my 11" Chromebook has replaced my tablet and my laptop.

      Just a better tool for the on the go person who doesn't have to carry all their digital luggage around with them.

      Connectivity isn't an issue I live in the developed world. For most folks now if a ordinary laptop doesn't have any connectivity it's pretty much left in the bag.

  4. Little Mouse

    "There’s quite a lot of bezel on show around the screen"

    You're not kidding.

    It makes the Flip appear quite dated, which I suspect will put a few people off.

  5. John Smith 19 Gold badge
    Big Brother

    "Is more secure"?

    Doesn't that depend where the other end of the distributed data centre cloud is located.

    Now if you had got a Linux distro running on it....

    1. Tom 7

      Re: "Is more secure"?

      Crouton is fairly easy to use to install a linux - havent shelled out for a chrome book yet (next time my uncle comes over from the us I might get him to bring me one) but those I know say that the linuxes run well on them - with effectively limitless apps for free even if you do have to compile some stuff.

  6. Stumpy Pepys

    I see this as …

    … an alternative to a tablet, not a small laptop. I mean the iPad has a fair bezel around it as well.

    The advantage it has over a tablet is that Chrome OS is more conducive to doing real work than Android is, plus it has a keyboard.

    The HP Stream is nice enough, but it's slow; if you want a web-browsing machine, you're better off with a Chromebook.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Nope,not interested

    Whilst it doesn't come supplied with Win10 (this is a point in its favour IMO), it runs the other OS I don't trust, and apparently trying to get Linux to run on it is iffy (thanks for reporting on that). Which makes it a bit pointless really for anyone that cares about their data security and privacy. (shrugs) Next!

    1. Hellcat

      Re: Nope,not interested

      I don't think they were trying to sell you one, just a review. But thanks for letting us know you don't want to buy one.

      I also don't think they were selling it as perfect for those who care about their data security and privacy. They're selling it as a cloud OS convertable with all the dependancies that requires. If you want a secure linux laptop then starting with a barebones regular laptop, or a windows one and scrub it would be better - unless you really, really want very little storage and a slow processor.

      1. Stuart 22

        Re: Nope,not interested

        I would be interested. I have a 13" Chromebook I love. I have a 9" Netbook I love which is much more capable then any tablet but is now nearing retirement. So this would have been an ideal form factor replacement for stuffing in a man bag when travelling. But this price and no chroot - no way.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Nope,not interested

        @Hellcat - I was aiming at the vendors, not the reviewers. I know perfectly well what the options are for those wanting a cheap (because that's all I could afford) Linux laptop, thank you - poor to non-existent. Which was my point which you appear to have missed. :-}

  8. Craigness

    Perfect middle ground

    "why not just buy a 10.1-inch Android tablet and a Bluetooth keyboard?"

    I bought an Asus Transformer and loved it for a while but eventually got rid of it because Chrome on Android is just not as good as on other OSes, Apps are not designed with the expectation you will do a lot of writing, and the multi-tasking is not suited to people who want to get stuff done. If you want a keyboard you probably want something more serious than Android.

    Chromebooks, being light and cheap and having no/few moving parts, are perfect laptops for the coffee table or carrying room to room. It's true that they're not as versatile as Windows, but if you want versatility you'll probably want to do more with it than you realistically could with a cheap laptop like the Stream. If you want a laptop which is always close by, simple to maintain and ready to use in a second, you probably want something less serious than Windows.

    Because Chromebooks are so cheap you can get one and have cash left over for a desktop PC to do the things you need versatility and power for - there's no need to spend loads on a Windows laptop which can compete with a Chromebook on speed! Hopefully Google's Android-on-Chrome system will eventually be good enough for games, which is just about the only thing I use my tablet for these days.

    Chromebook + Desktop > Tablet + Windows Laptop

    (except for the guy who needs to travel and there's no wifi on his train so lets just scrap the whole idea of chrome os and the cloud is bad mmkay)

  9. Joe Harrison

    keep it

    Whenever I am on a train listening to music on my phone, and it goes into a tunnel, and the music doesn't cut off because it's on sd card and not in a cloud, well that's when I pat myself on the back for being old and boring instead of hipster 2.0

    1. jason 7

      Re: keep it

      You can use SD card and USB with a Chromebook too.

      This is the 21st century after all. Nothing to be fearful of.

    2. Craigness

      Re: keep it

      My music is in the cloud and it doesn't cut out when I'm in a tunnel. To people sufficiently old and boring any new technology is indistinguishable from magic.

      Does anyone actually stream music over 4g?

  10. i steal your leccy

    Re: LINUX

    Thanks for trying.

  11. dogged


    Other reviews I've seen say basically "nice little machine rendered useless by fuckawful keyboard".

    Do you agree, Alun?

    1. Al Taylor

      Do I agree?


      I've used many a cheap machine over the years: netbooks, Chromebooks, tablet transformers of various sorts etc. The Flip's keyboard is one of the best. Granted it's not full size and there's no backlight but other than that I can't fault it.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I'll wait for..

    a/ the price to drop down.

    b/ someone to get Linux, xp or Win7 working on it

    Then it can replace my ancient EEPC901 as a travel companion around China.

    (8" laptop and 19" laptop bag, cos airlines dont weight them!!!)

    1. ROC

      Re: I'll wait for..

      You will wait forever for those Windows versions on an ARM CPU. Your only "hope" would be Windows 8 RT, and I don't think that is much to hope for...

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: I'll wait for..

        Oooops, I forgot it was running on an ARM chip!!!


        Perhaps if they can get a nice version of Android working on it, I am quite happy with MIUI v6

  13. Gis Bun

    People buy Chromebricks?

  14. Henry Wertz 1 Gold badge

    "Proper" Windows laptop?

    "Surely for this money you can get a proper Windows laptop theses days? Chrome isn't exactly an appealing option in that case."

    I find Windows unappealing personally. If I'm going to stick a nice Ubuntu install on my computer anyway... a) I don't want to be falsely counted as some kind of Windows customer when I'm NEVER going to use Windows, and I don't want ANY of my money going to Microsoft. b) I'd rather have an ARM, the battery life is SO much better and with Linux (unlike Windows), there's not some big downside because it's not x86. c) As jason7 says, Windows is nasty on these lower-spec machines (that Linux will run between 'adequately' and 'pretty well' on.)

  15. JeffyPoooh

    "...but the HP Stream-series laptops are far more versatile..."

    HP laptop? Seriously?

    Has anything changed in the last year or two?

    1. Voland's right hand Silver badge

      Re: "...but the HP Stream-series laptops are far more versatile..."

      The Touchsmart series are actually top notch (once you upgrade them) and very reasonably priced. They can be serviced in the middle of Dumbf***stan on a 1 star hotel table too - the lid is like phone - screwless on clips and the disk is attached using standard Philips screws. The godawful 30+ hex star screws of yesteryear are gone for good. There are no 3/5 fold star stupidities or glue like Apple either.

  16. wolfetone Silver badge

    Not sure why you'd even consider this over the ASUS T100 Transformer Book. Splits off from the keyboard so you can use it as a tablet, which makes more sense as you're liable to knock the now unprotected keyboard and say goodbye to some keys. Has similar amount of storage and will run proper applications as it's x86 based. And Windows 8/8.1 actually makes sense on the device!

    And best of all, it'll be a few quid cheaper than this and do much more.

    1. Danny 14

      There are loads of models around the transformer book too. Some have 32gb some 64gb. Some have additional storage in the keyboard too. some have extra batteries (but need charging separately!) some are glorified Bluetooth keyboards attached to a tablet, some have USB3 in the keyboards etc etc. There are so many SKUs it took us a while to settle on the H100TAM (USB3+micro+HDMI and 64gb)

  17. dajames

    Looks like the Asus TF103c Transformer

    ... but that runs Android and can be had for a bit under two hundred quid.

    I like Chromebooks, but I don't see Chrome as well suited to keyboardless use, and if Asus can make an Android convertible for less than £200 then they sure as hell ought to be able to sell a Chrome convertible for as little or less.

  18. keithpeter Silver badge

    OK which (x86) chromebook to run a Linux on. In UK. Now?

    See title. Speak brains.

    (Probably Debian 8 full install not cruton. Possibly 120Gb ssd in place of supplied. Keyboard must not flex too much.)

  19. Code For Broke

    Linux on ARM

    Perhaps we are all smart enough to infer here, but I thought I might take this opportunity to claim my continuing credits on my degree on pedantry...

    As this machine utilizes an ARM processor, the process of installing and launching a chroot is not the cookie-cutter process anyone with an Intel Chromebook mostly knows by heart now. I'm sure the author didn't try following directions for an intel-based system. But maybe the author could explain the major obstacle to installing the chroot?

  20. Edward Green

    Chrome RDP to i5 NUC

    I bought one.

    I use it for large PowerPoint presentations, basic video editing and Fireworks image editing. Even some finger sketching.

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