ASUS Chromebook Flip C302
Since Google announced in the summer 2016 on the Google I/O Developer Conference , that Android apps on Chromebooks are to be released, I’m watching the development with great interest. Chromebook I had up to now rather ignored. The dependency of the cloud and the focus is on have cheap plastic devices Google’s notebook operating system not just attractive made. But then came this announcement and since then I’m fascinated by the idea of combining the minimalist chrome OS with the variety of Android apps. It took quite a while but until Google released the Android apps piece by piece for Chromebook Acer, Dell or HP.
The whole thing came for me again until in swing, as Amazon UK Prime day various Chromebook noticeably reduced offered during this year’s Amazon, including the C302 – lauded by many as currently best Chromebook – ASUS. So, I got the opportunity to finally look me then but unexpectedly and spontaneously ordered the C302 at Amazon UK. This test report will I not only on chrome OS as such, go Android apps and of course said Chromebook, but also discuss the use of imported Chromebook in Germany. Have fun!
A brief history of chrome OS
An operating system since about 2009 is chrome OS, the operating system of the Chromebook. How well Android is based on open source components (largely Ubuntu) in the core and is maintained by Google. In the form, as it runs on the Chromebooks sold in the trade, it is but of course interspersed by proprietary ingredients. With some tinkering, like any other Linux distribution, you can install the free version of Chromium OS , however, on his own computer. The idea behind chrome OS is simple: the operating system itself is extremely slim and provides only the essential. Virtually any productive activity via Web apps in the browser. Instead of hard-disk space to manage its data only to Google drive and uses the online versions (E.g. from Microsoft Office 365) and other Web-apps instead of local programs. Chromebook need therefore not fast processors, large memory, or lush internal hard drives. All you need is a Google login and an Internet connection. All has earned the reputation as a “Cloud Only” systems Chromebook, which were always dependent on an Internet connection to be able to perform even the most basic necessities.
This reputation was also authorized for many years and the cloud-focus yielded also benefits. In educational institutions, Google gained considerable distribution with the easy-to-manage, and cost-effective equipment. 2015 already made headlines that round, according to which overhauled Chromebook in the education sector for Windows and Apple already have. Over time, Google brought but also more offline tricks on its chrome OS. Many Web apps could be soon use offline and also a program to manage local files has been added later. Parallel, the hardware requirements were of course greater. You could no longer quite so simply refrain from local hard disk and computing power. Most importantly, the Chromebook were even more attractive. No matter if Google’s own reference equipment (only in the United States of available Chromebook pixel 1 and 2) or elegant new devices from ASUS, HP and Acer: with metal housings, high resolution displays and sleek modern design Chromebook which arose more and more Sand box.
Google has experimented with the fusion of Android and chrome OS by the way already. Already 2014 Google on the Google I/O presented the first plans and demonstrated potential concepts based on selected apps. Then developers had the apps but still by hand based on the app runtime for chrome (ARC) fit. The apps were Web apps in the chrome Web store then somewhere between chrome and the offer was rather uninteresting and sparse. The real gain in the now new start-up is not that somehow gets Android apps on chrome OS up and running. It was there – as I said – before. The really interesting thing, instead, is that now simply runs the complete Google play store app on the Chromebook. So you can install apps via the familiar environment, buy, and use. And all that without that developers need to make any adjustments or you only out should fish the apps in the chrome Web store between the chrome apps.
What does chrome OS
Before we get into the Android apps, I would like to briefly explain what can the pure chrome OS now actually. Part of the appeal, the Chromebook exert on me, is the fact that the operating system despite all minimalism dominated many classic desktop tricks. My companion article to the announcement of the Android apps in the last year I expressed so that:
Google’s chrome OS, however, now seems to pursue the ideal middle ground. It is slim enough that it runs perfectly well on weak hardware. It was designed from the outset to touch. And the effort to bring the mobile Android variety on the desktop system, is relatively low. At the same time Google has been with the system’s already classic desktop genes: the operation via mouse and trackpad was taken into account from the outset and working in Windows and access to the file system at an early stage.
Now several weeks with the Chromebook flip 2 (C302) I can confirm fully my impression at that time. Who has previously worked with Windows and macOS, will be amazed how fast one as a classic desktop user on chrome OS handle finds. Whether working with Windows, the use of copy-paste shortcuts or connecting external monitors (extended or cloned): chrome OS simply just like any other desktop system acts in most areas. The establishment of VPN access (but only via L2TP/IPsec) or local management of files are no problem, if anything reduced in their degree of detail. The mouse keys is to display all open programs, with primary and secondary click, as well as a three-finger swipe gesture, also exactly how you would expect.
The desktop with an open status menu
The desktop interface and the settings of Chromebook are the areas that perhaps most likely to require a transition. It starts so that you can put any files on the desktop other than for Windows and macOS. You can see so only the bare background image as well as the open window. The dock, in which there are all the sticky’s, as well as current open apps, can be docked left, (but not macOS-like at the top of) right, and bottom. Where you can find the start menu under Windows, OS contains a quick access to Google search including all installed programs chrome. A status bar with access to the control panel is found right in the dock. The control panel in turn corresponds to the settings of the chrome browser especially visually and functionally. Here, the legacy of chrome OS, so the equation of operating system and browser, shows probably clearest. A few additional entries (in relation to the chrome browser) but then have the system setting of chrome OS. So, it can be set as the arrangement of the connected monitor, the VPN access or the operation of the trackpad.
I would be the lock button on the positive peculiarities. He sits there, where you are looking for a MacBook power button or the delete key when the Windows laptop. The lock button is pressed and then locks the computer, so that can be continued only with PIN or password. For me this is quite a plus, you need to remember but no keyboard shortcut (WIN + L on Windows, control + shift + eject under macOS). A separate power button does not know the chrome OS keyboard. Instead, OS boot chrome automatically if it opens up the display. Most manufacturers (such as ASUS my model) but use an additional dedicated power button somewhere in addition. And Yes, even the official OS keyboard chrome has – like the MacBooks – no delete key, but uses it a shortcut (ALT + BACKSPACE). A complete list of all shortcuts can be found here , by the way.
Printing works only with Google cloud print
The only points that I would complain to the base functionality of chrome OS, are the missing Bluetooth tethering, as well as the issue of print. I have used above all on my daily train journeys from and to work the Chromebook and prefer (with views of the lower power consumption) in the train the Bluetooth Hotspot over the Wi-Fi hotspot. But currently, nor with an Android Smartphone with an iPhone Bluetooth tethering is possible. USB tethering on the other hand – at least with Android smartphones – is now feasible. The connection of a printer is a really bitter pill last again. Here one notices then however painful its minimalism chrome OS. Network printers are the only way that the Google Cloud Print support. This not only greatly restricts the selection, but is inevitably to the confidentiality of the printed content questions (more about that but in detail below).
Android apps and subsystem
And so I want to come to the highlight of the show: the Android apps. Their availability is unfortunately not always very reliable. Google lists the current status while on an official info page and read the local list of Chromebook that support Android apps, initially once also pleasing for. Actually, the status on most devices is still “proposed”. For the few devices that already support Android apps, compatibility often still in the beta stage or even only in developer mode is available. Only at the least, the Google play store is to have out-of-the-box. This means that most of that that today’s buyers, buy a Chromebook at the store (if they find one in Germany), the beautiful new app variety would seek for nothing. Also my Chromebook flip 2 (C302) is supported only in the beta channel. This means basically, but not much more than that you must change the update channel on “Beta” OS settings and restart the Chromebook in the chrome. Then, Google play store – voilà – waiting in the dock. In detail explained Google the procedure here.
Android apps are available only to beta channel
When you’re ready, the rest is a matter of very familiar. The play store is operated as on any Android device and the big part of the apps can be downloaded. Only in a few, indicate a missing compatibility locks installation. Technically, Google has become so solved the implementation, that a complete Android framework in a container is running , including its own Android system settings. To open this, you could actually forget that it uses a chrome OS system and instead think sitting before an Android tablet with docked keyboard (similar to the Google pixel C). The Android under system settings are however noticeably slimmed down compared to a full Android device. Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, security settings, or the adaptation of the background image can be found only in the settings of chrome OS itself. Yet one finds in the Android setting very much familiar such as the Android version and the patch level. That will be very interesting in the long term, because now Google must up to date and securely hold not only chrome OS, but provide also that in the Android system running background feature and security updates. With the spread of Android compatibility, I suspect a similar situation as to when the Update chaos on Smartphones on us here. Currently running on my Chromebook but the current Android 7.1.1 (“nougat”) with security patch-level “July 2017” and is thus at least clearly current as the majority of Android smartphones.
Helpful Developer options
The Android apps behave when using as little Smartphone displays on the chrome OS desktop, open mostly in portrait mode, and can move as a static window, minimize or add to the dock. Real desktop-feeling comes up only when you unlock certain experimental features in the developer options, since Android 7 (“nougat”) brings the Android. As usual type or click on the build number to seven times and reached all the way down two crucial points as unlocked Developer settings: change the size of the window, as well as the choice between portrait and landscape. About the selection of the cut as the standard Open the apps – if available – in the Tabletmodus and by activating the free customization of Windows, the Android apps as desktop programs in their height and width can be adjusted. Currently but not all Android apps, but only those for which developers have implemented this function since Android 7 (“nougat”) support free resizing of the window.
Android apps on the desktop
Just the last points clearly show that it cheers, making or another one operating system. Although my Android apps work all of them perfectly. Apps such as Flamingo (my Twitter client), OneDrive or even Outlook can be adjusted even freely in their size. Nevertheless it notes always their mobile home them. Instead of directly expand the settings hidden in Hamburg menus, the apps exploit OS desktop rarely correct the space of chrome. While the version of the chrome browser supplied the chromebook virtually one to one corresponds to the normal desktop version for Windows or Mac version, the mobile versions of Firefox (but also chrome for Android) seem quite out of place. This is where, for example, because there is no way to display the bookmarks bar in Android versions typical of desktop. Still more obvious indicators of the minor, and together are but the Clipboard and the behavior of VPN apps. Not always it is possible to insert the content copied from chrome apps (E.g. texts of Web pages in the chrome browser) via copy-paste in Android apps. Anyway, the Android version turned on here quite bitchy of Microsoft Word. Instead, it was always necessary, first paste the text in another Android app and thence again to copy and paste it into Word during my period. I can’t answer why Word differently here so across arises as other Android apps. You realize that just that the Android apps live in its own container. VPNs are also a really funny story, because VPN-Android-apps tunnel subsystem only the data of Android, not those of chrome OS. So even a lot of the unification there to screw.
Despite these points, my conclusion about Android apps in the Beta status is more than positive. You are for me the crucial difference between a lean and Web-dependent system and a real production environment. I could do most of my work easily mobile with the native Android versions of Excel, Word and PowerPoint. And that in case of doubt completely offline. The online versions of the Office are also quite useful, but only in the browser. Just the Word version for Android need not to hide now. On the above copy-paste error could I edit as usual write, footnotes and text formatting. Thus, among other things a long technical paper was born on my pendulum swing. For more complex activities, such as convert foot to endnotes, I had to work on the manuscript at the end with a “full” version of the word. An advantage of the Android version of Word (or any Microsoft Office application) is, by the way, that Office 365 customers in the “staff” subscription need no additional desktop license, because the Android version on Chromebook as mobile version is counted.
Also apps such as Threema, Palabre (my RSS reader), Spotify ran without any problems. Especially Threema is still reporting that the app directly on the Chromebook runs, it is so not subject to the Threema Web service . This is interesting especially for iPhone users, because Threema Web only with Android is compatible. All in all is undeniably the added value of the Android apps for me and I see really little reason to assume that very many users with the power and functionality of Chromebook would be completely insufficient served.
The Chromebook flip 2 (C302)
My experiences described here are all on the C302 ASUS – as I said -. The C302 is the very unsexy name of the commonly referred to as “Chromebook flip 2” titled Chromebook flagship by ASUS. The predecessor (the Chromebook flip) was already widely praised and also the new model, the C302, received a dozen titles such as E.g. “King of Chromebook”. Now several weeks, I can very largely also confirm this praise. The ASUS Chromebook flip 2 C302 (hereinafter only “flip 2”) really succeeded, not only in view of its price. I must lose then also a few words about this “award”, because the flip 2 is not officially sold by ASUS in Germany. There is also no version with German keyboard layout. It will be officially available in the U.S. from $ 499. For that you get in the basic equipment a device with Intel Pentium processor, 4 GB of RAM and 32 GB internal memory. This relatively low-power basic version can be found but rarely trade according to reports by chrome unboxed in the free (US). Instead, the big U.S. electronics chain sell especially a version with core m3, 4 GB of RAM and 64 GB internal memory. And amazingly at the same price of $ 499. “M3” he conceals m3-6Y30 Intel Core based on the architecture of Skylake here with 2 cores, hyper-threading and up to 2.2 GHz Turbo clock. This version, also I’ve used the last few weeks. I bought to my device – as I said – day from Amazon UK and to Prime a converted Euro price of almost exactly €500. To reach this price but only with special offers, usually requires also Amazon UK for the device between 600 to €700. For the rest of the article I will assume from a price to the €600 and measure the device it.
The flip 2 optically fully convinced
Similarities to Apple’s MacBooks are not denying
For this sum to get a – short and sweet – excellent device. It resembles the current MacBooks, including the characteristic hollow before the trackpad in its proportions and general design. While you can open the MacBook it however with one hand, succeed in the flip 2 does not. The housing is a “all metal body” consists of aluminium according to the Produkpräsentation by ASUS . This seems to vote even after extensive consistency, however you can see in some places that the body was composed of various elements. Massive and high-quality feel of MacBooks, whose top and bottom of an aluminum block are milled, offers the flip 2 does not. I have nothing but really to complain about. The flip 2 feels first class and emits much more premium-appeal, as the price would allow. This very successful impression of outer joins a downright terrific keyboard. The housing is hardly in the keyboard pane and the keyboard itself has a very precise stop, comfortable key travel. The pressure point is even noticeably more precise compared to my 2015 MacBook Pro for example. Overall, I would want to make the keyboard so at least with those of classic MacBooks on an equal footing. Even a backlight is what is not even of course units in the four-digit range.
The keyboard class is the trackpad ok,
I’m not quite as euphoric with the good, but not spectacular trackpad. Purely by the size I don’t see anyway that it would be a “super-large trackpad”. The 12 inch Apple MacBook trackpad is certainly more spacious. For this, the trackpad works but properly. Classic mouse controls and two-finger scrolling in the browser or in documents work as far as very cleanly and precisely. I’m at more expensive notebooks been less successful trackpad seen. The trackpad is not free from criticism. The available under chrome OS multi-tasking gesture of with three fingers up or down, wipe to display all open apps in a browser, often delayed raises for. On a Web page or a Word document scroll I therefore often involuntarily wild around before raises the gesture. The click mechanism of the trackpad finally is fine, could be but crunchy. Maybe I notice here only that I’m used to the precise and everywhere the same click the Force feedback trackpad of MacBooks .
The unit has about 2 USB-3.1 (Gen. 1 with up to 5 Gbps) connections in USB-C-style, an audio jack and a micro-SD card slot. A power and volume button is still there. It is necessary that only if you used the device in the Tabletmodus. Thanks to USB-3.1 (Gen. 1) also display can be connected, activated even with 4 K on 60 Hz (testable via USB-C to DisplayPort cable on my Dell P2715Q). Loaded is also the USB ports, so glad to see that ASUS used per a port on the opposite sides of the unit. This makes flexible the connecting of a charge cable. The flip 2 has fan and vents, hence none of the installed Intel processor is completely passive cooling. The device despite an core m3 has developed but never any significant heat in all my activities, especially word processing, video or Web browsing.
The built-up core m3 processor provides ample power
The display of the flip 2 can be completely freak two eponymous joints on the other side and delivers full-HD resolution at 12.5 inches in just 300 NITs. The mirrored display could be so bright, had a problem with me in most scenarios but with around 70-80 quite well % of maximum brightness. Annoying I find on the display rather that’s format is therefore in the narrow 16:9. The total not just narrow display edges do then the rest that the display given the size of the device the impression of not quite high-quality, the otherwise emits. Thanks to the mathematically reached 176 pixels per inch (PPI) , text is represented relatively sharp. But those who used displays with more than 200 PPI, will find a certain coarseness. By House scaled chrome OS on the flip 2 to 1536 x 864 pixels. Image elements are so represented with a magnification factor of 1.25 (more information, making sharp a display here). Thus, the user interface is easy to recognize. On request the content but also in native scale of 1 × 1 can be used, what Ant size shrink the content rather.
Thanks to 360° joint and touch screen as a Tablet (with kick stand) can be used
The display is also a touch screen. I used the not in the normal operation of the laptop. I think to make touch input with outstretched arm, the entry access through the keyboard, just extremely uncomfortable. I’m one of those rather, the touch screens on notebooks deem dispensable. However you can fold down the flip 2 it also completely and then the touch screen is of course essential. On long train rides, have it done I also and admit that it can be quite nice to use the YouTube video viewed still on her lap at once in Tablet position to consume or the base unit as a kick stand. While the device is on the keyboard. Apps in the folded to incidentally automatically switch to fullscreen mode. However, the flip is quite easy as a Tablet but of course a bulkier lump 2 with 1.2 kg for notebook conditions. My mind relaxed couch surfing is practically excluded. The joints are stiff as a whole but commendable and keep the display without big wobble in his position. Therefore the theoretical possibility of a Tablet mode should not disturb me. Have is – as usual – now even better than need.
I am mistaken, if slightly curves the display upwards?
As mentioned above, I used the version with core m3, 4 GB of RAM and 64 GB internal memory. The performance thus offered never gave me cause for criticism. Also the boot time (already a strength of the Chromebook) is really insanely fast with about three seconds. Fortunately the good impression on battery life is true. I have not reached maturity the 10 h advertised by ASUS, but I easily on approx. 7-8 h, which effectively means I hung the device every few days on any USB-C charger came with display brightness to about 70% and light office activities and otherwise always reliably came through the work or pendulum everyday.
To the device, I’d move so overall the following conclusion. ASUS offers a really successful device with good display, great processing and design, as well as a class keyboard for about €600. Also, battery life, performance, and the flexibility of the 360° joints make a positive impression. Something pushes me just a detail: the display fold seems to conclude not 100% with the housing. I have the impression that the display towards the middle and slightly upward curves in the folded to. In forums and on reddit I’ve read very few similar reports. I simply assume that there are certain tolerances to Asus and you then realize that the housing is not made a block but is composed of several parts of aluminium. Up on a short pull up my meticulous eyebrow when unpacking, I had forgotten this detail but then it quickly again.
Conclusion: Here comes something big
So what remains about four weeks with my Chromebook after now? The impression that Google here has a very promising offer in store. Where macOS is completely missing the touch operation, Windows 10 is far too power-hungry and the new Windows suffers from a barren app offer 10 S, Chromebook trumps correctly. Chic hardware, good prices, and now the big wide world of Android apps: For me are Chromebook therefore serious equipment as well as for less demanding users suitable, simply because the system so low maintenance and slim around to a iPad is, at the same time but enough features familiar classical desktop systems. Not critical as usual look at Google’s disputatious data protection practices and the still poor availability of Chromebook in Germany, would be because I would lose myself in even greater praise.
Whom iPads (also with the deceptive label “Pro”) to crowded, MacBooks too expensive and Windows systems are too fiddly, really which should deal with Chromebook. For 500 to €600, I would be surprised anyway if you find Windows 10 laptop that can compete with the ASUS C302 and at the same time to offer this level of ease of use. What remains is the determination, the Google for its staying power deserves praise. For years, it works on a cloud operating system of many smiled and then conjures a real killer feature out of the hat with a full Android app support. While Microsoft times on one Windows RT (disaster) abspeckten to, then on a compulsory Beglückung with touch controls for Windows 8 (Gee) trying to in the meantime, the whole theme blow mobile apps (Oh, my poor Windows 10 mobile) and now with Windows 10 S dare a new start-up, missed getting into the touch-operation Apple with the new touch bar completely and desperately tries to train his iPad desktop tricks. Google, however, has teamed up with chrome OS and Android focuses on two clear lines, whose Stärken are now connected. Successful!
Would I want something for me, it would be a chromium laptop with Lineage-OS a free Google chrome OS with Google-free Android container, quasi subsystem. Until it is ready, we must acknowledge chrome OS and devices like the flip 2 but for that, what they announce: something big here.