Asus Chromebook C200 review
If battery life means more than performance, then the C200 has stamina to spare
Asus is the latest big name to the Chromebook party, with its 11.6in and 13.3in models, the smaller of which we've looked at here. First impressions don't inspire that much excitement. The silver metallic finish on the chassis around the keyboard and ports looks fine yet feels a little bargain-basement, and the wedge-shaped profile doesn't disguise the bulk. Where other Chromebooks do their best to ape the style of Ultrabooks, the C200 merely mimics a larger netbook. See also: what's the best laptop you can buy in 2014?
Asus Chromebook C200 review: design
However, while the plastics aren't the thickest or most rugged, build quality feels solid enough. There are lots of other things to like, too. The Asus might use a proprietary charger rather than the HP's micro USB affair, but it's just as compact and closer to a tablet charger than a laptop one. The large, smooth touchpad may not have a glossy glass surface, but it still seems accurate and responsive, and doesn't have any problems navigating Google Apps spreadsheets or recognising scrolling and right-click gestures. The scrabble-tile keyboard isn't bad either. The action is a little stiff, but the layout works and there's nothing limp about it.
Asus Chromebook C200 review: screen and speakers
The screen is typical of what you'd expect from a budget laptop. With a maximum brightness of 232cd/m[sup]2[/sup] it's not incredibly bright, but the gloss screen helps it produce better contrast and richer blacks than the Dell or Acer models, though there are drawbacks when you're trying to work anywhere near a source of light.
The sound is also bigger and more spacious than you might expect, even if all the volume seems concentrated in the mid-range, without much clarity at the bass or treble ends.
Asus Chromebook C200 review: performance, battery and connectivity
Physical connectivity is a bog-standard mix of a USB 3 and USB 2 port, an HDMI output for running an external screen, a headphone out and a SD card slot. However, the Asus is one of the few models to offer 802.11ac wireless, even if our early model didn't have it enabled yet.
Asus has taken a few risks with the spec. Where other Chromebook manufacturers have opted for a Haswell-based Celeron processor, the C200 employs one of the new Bay Trail Celerons. This is Atom architecture, and that's reflected in the benchmarks, where the Asus struggles to keep up with the Haswell competition. We still didn't encounter much slowdown with multiple tabs open and apps running in everyday use, but leave a couple playing videos and try to get some work done and you'll spot a little lagging and pausing creeping in.
Luckily, there is a pay-off: the C200's battery life is pretty awesome for a budget Chromebook. With the display calibrated to 120cd/m[sup]2[/sup] it ran more than nine hours of looping video before it conked out, and while having Wi-Fi switched on will sap that further, you could still get a good day's work out of this machine.
Asus Chromebook C200 review: verdict
This isn't the best book in the world in terms of speed or ergonomics, but if you want a moderately powerful and usable machine that keeps on trucking, the Asus Chromebook C200 is a solid, practical choice.
|Warranty||1 yr return to base|
|Dimensions||295 x 200 x 23mm (WDH)|
Processor and memory
|Processor||Intel Celeron N2830|
Screen and video
|Resolution screen horizontal||1,366|
|Resolution screen vertical||768|
|Resolution||1366 x 768|
|Graphics chipset||Intel HD|
|Replacement battery price inc VAT||£0|
|802.11 draft-n support||yes|
|3.5mm audio jacks||1|
|SD card reader||yes|