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Monday, November 29, 2021

Asus Chromebook Flip CX5 evaluation: the 15-inch Chromebook to beat

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It wasn’t too way back that the thought of paying $800 for a Chromebook would get you laughed out of a room. In some circles, it nonetheless will. I actually have criticized all kinds of Chrome OS devices for being too expensive for what they provide, and I keep that the $259.99 Chromebook Duet is among the greatest bargains in at the moment’s laptop computer market.

So I opened up my evaluation unit of Asus’ $828 Chromebook CX5 ready to complain. Whereas that will be a midrange value for a Home windows laptop computer, it’s excessive for a Chromebook (and most other reviewers have panned the thing for its price). However the CX5 has carried out an important job of convincing me that my knee-jerk was misplaced — there’s virtually nothing, aside from the working system, separating this laptop computer from a wonderful midrange Home windows pocket book. Chromebooks have grown up, and so have their costs.

Probably the most distinctive characteristic of the CX5, even amongst current Home windows laptops, is its end. The chassis is roofed in what Asus calls “electro-deposition coating.” I don’t know what meaning particularly, however I do know I like touching it.

Each the keyboard deck and the lid are virtually disconcertingly clean. “Velvety” is one of the best descriptor I can provide you with. Apart from the Dell XPS 13 (with its considerably controversial woven-glass texture), there’s not a laptop computer I’ve reviewed that feels this good. That smoothness extends to the touchpad as nicely, which is roomy and does an important job with palm rejection, although it’s considerably stiff such that I typically wanted two fingers to function it.

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The Asus Chromebook Flip CX5 in tent mode, seen from the left side on a black table with a gray fabric bench in the background.

I used to be able to hate this, however I’m truly more than happy.

The Asus Chromebook Flip CX5 half open, seen from the back, angled to the left, with a white textured wall in the background.

Asus calls the coating “a chic, ceramic-like texture.”

Equally, the construct high quality is as good as any Chromebook I’ve used this 12 months and rivals lots of the best laptops at this value level. It’s fairly sturdy, with no flex within the display screen and just about none within the keyboard deck. The chassis barely picks up any fingerprints, and it got here out of being battered round in my backpack with out a scratch.

The port choice is cheap as nicely, together with two USB-C 3.2 Gen 2 ports, an HDMI 2.0, a USB 3.2 Gen 2 Sort-A, an audio combo jack, and a microSD slot (no Thunderbolt assist, although). The CX5 helps dual-band Wi-Fi 6 and Bluetooth 5.0, and it contains numerous applied sciences which might be supposed to assist stabilize connectivity together with a “metamaterial filter” that’s meant to “isolate electromagnetic noise.”

The Asus Chromebook Flip CX5 laid out flat on a gray fabric bench. The screen displays The Verge homepage.

It’s an 81 p.c screen-to-body ratio.

I solely have two actual complaints concerning the chassis. The primary is the ability button — it’s situated on the left edge, and I by chance pressed it a number of occasions when holding the machine as a pill. The second, talking of pill mode, is the load. At 4.17 kilos, the CX5 is heavy for a 15-inch Chromebook — it’s very shut in weight to the Asus Zephyrus G15 gaming laptop computer, for context, and over a pound heavier than Samsung’s 15-inch Galaxy Book Pro 360. I’d choose one thing else if I have been on the lookout for a tool I may comfortably carry round as a pill.

The Asus Chromebook CX5’s keyboard angled to the right, seen from above on a black table.

Audio system are pushed by a “good amplifier” to stop long-term harm.

The Asus Chromebook Flip CX5 in tent mode, angled to the left on a black table. The screen displays The Verge homepage.

The CX5 has Asus’ ErgoLift hinge, which tilts the keyboard up by three levels in clamshell mode.

The ports on the left side of the Asus Chromebook Flip CD5.

That’s the ability button there, with the little LED.

Elsewhere, the CX5 works fairly nicely as an leisure and productiveness machine. The downward-firing audio system, that are Harmon Kardon licensed, have first rate percussion and wonderful quantity, although I did hear a tiny little bit of distortion on the prime finish. The keyboard is pretty snug with first rate journey and click on; it’s additionally a bit loud, and the numpad is cramped even for my small fingers.

The 1920 x 1080 touchscreen is vivid and kicked again little glare (and the 16:9 facet ratio, whereas not ultimate, is much less of against the law on a 15-inch display screen than it could be on a smaller machine). The bezels are chunky sufficient to look a bit old school, however these are extra affordable to have on a 2-in-1 that you could be want to carry from the perimeters.

The Asus Chromebook Flip CX5 webcam.

Oh look, an HD digital camera.

After which there’s the efficiency. My check unit has a Core i5-1135G7 and 16GB of LPDDR4X SDRAM, that are hefty specs for a shopper Chromebook. It blew by no matter I wanted it to, and I used to be typically working in over a dozen Chrome tabs alongside a couple of Android apps, with sometimes a Zoom name or a YouTube video over prime. I by no means felt any warmth or noise from the fan inside. I had one challenge the place working Spotify for lengthy intervals of time sometimes made the pc crash, however I’m undecided whether or not that’s on Spotify or Asus; I’ve requested the latter and can report again in the event that they determine something out.

Battery life can also be affordable, given the ability of the chips inside. I averaged eight hours and 31 minutes of steady use with the CX5’s display screen at medium brightness, and simply broke 9 hours on some trials. Whereas that’s not an distinctive outcome by any stretch, it would mean you can go a full day of use with out a charger in case your workload is just like mine. The machine additionally charged rapidly sufficient for a Chromebook, juicing as much as 60 p.c in 57 minutes.

The CX5 can also be accessible in 14-inch fashions. You may get a 14-incher with a Core i3 (at present $724.99 on Amazon) and a Core i7 (currently $1,049.99 from Asus). Given how effortlessly the i5 is performing in my testing, I’d be hard-pressed to advocate the latter mannequin to anybody with a Chrome-heavy workload. Individuals who want that sort of energy probably know who they’re. The i3, then again, could also be a good choice for folk who’re balking at my check unit’s value and are okay with a smaller display screen. An i3 has generally been powerful enough to fly by Chrome OS duties in my testing. (That unit additionally has 8GB of RAM, which remains to be unusual in lower-tier Chromebooks.)

The Asus Chromebook Flip CX5 open on a black table, angled to the left, with a gray fabric bench and white textured wall in the background. The screen displays The Verge homepage.

The smaller i3 mannequin could also be a greater worth for many individuals.

All of that is to say that the CX5 rivals many Home windows laptops at its value level within the areas that matter — it’s not sluggish, flimsy, or cheaply constructed the best way Chromebooks stereotypically have been in years previous. The principle consideration, when you’re contemplating the CX5 as a major driver, is whether or not Chrome OS will give you the results you want.

I’ve been reviewing Chromebooks for nearly two years, and I’ve watched Chrome OS mature earlier than my eyes in that point. It’s grown from an working system filled with glitches and holes to 1 that doesn’t really feel a lot completely different from Home windows more often than not (particularly because the latter simply moved its icons to the middle of its taskbar).

However there are nonetheless a couple of issues that get you — even when you’re somebody like me, who works virtually totally in Chrome. Some apps nonetheless take some time to resize. Slack is not accessible in app kind, so it’s yet one more factor I’ve to maintain in my bottomless heap of Chrome tabs. Messenger nonetheless bombards me each morning with notifications for each message I obtained over the earlier night time. Whereas it’s good that many Android apps have gotten extra usable on Chrome OS over time, there nonetheless aren’t too many who I discover extra helpful than their browser counterparts — many of the ones I exploit are equal at greatest. (And, in fact, you may overlook about every kind of desktop apps to which Home windows provides you entry.)

However for some buyers, the simplicity and different advantages of Chrome OS outweigh these drawbacks. If that’s you, extra energy to you.

The Asus logo on the bottom bezel of the Asus Chromebook Flip CX5.

Chrome OS supplies automated updates and built-in safety — each huge promoting factors for a lot of people.

The elephant within the room to all of that is the CX5’s value: $828.99 is nicely outdoors of what most may think about to be Chromebook territory. However that projection is commonly, partially, based mostly on the belief that Chromebooks are low cost {hardware}, and I’d remind those that this value isn’t egregious relating to well-built Chromebooks — and I do assume this one is nicely constructed.

Think about the Pixelbook Go. A Pixelbook Go together with an identical specs to my check unit is $999. Google’s machine is thinner and lighter than the CX5, however it additionally has a smaller display screen, fewer ports, and an older processor, and it doesn’t flip round. It’s not clearly a greater buy for everybody — it’s actually not $170 higher for everybody.

I believe when you’re somebody who prefers Chrome OS to Home windows, and you recognize that the previous will fit your wants, the CX5 isn’t egregiously priced. It’s a stable performer with a singular design — there are reputable causes to want it over a midrange Home windows laptop computer, whatever the working system it’s working.

Most significantly, it loudly and clearly sends the message that numerous laptop computer producers have been making an attempt to push over time: Premium Chromebooks are a factor now. They’re not only a novelty that Google reveals off occasionally — they’re on cabinets, they’re sensible, and so they’re focusing on on a regular basis laptop computer patrons. Simply get able to pay a bit extra.

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