Asus Chromebook C201 Review - Software, Performance and Battery Review

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Asus Chromebook C201 – Chrome OS

The Asus Chromebook C201 is powered

by Google’s Chrome OS. For those out of the loop, Chrome OS is a cloud

based, open source, desktop operating system based on the Linux kernel

Google originally released in 2009.

The OS is designed to let PC

and laptop makers offer top-end performance while using low-end

components by leveraging the cloud. It works by offloading the majority

of the work traditionally handled by laptop’s CPU and GPU to cloud

servers owned by Google.

This means, as long as you have an

active internet connection Chromebook’s should offer significantly

faster performance than their components would suggest.

In the

past I’ve found, while the performance boosts Chrome OS offers when

connected to the internet are great, its cloud focus is a mixed bag for

two reasons.

First, Google uses Chrome OS as a platform to push

its ecosystem, making it so you can only run cloud apps, or services in

Chrome’s Web Store on Chromebooks.

This is fine for people

embedded in Google’s ecosystem using things like Gmail, Calendar and

Drive as their main productivity tools, but in the past has been an

issue for people using Microsoft’s services.
Asus Chromebook C201
Second, when Chrome

OS first came out key apps, like Google Docs and Drive had woefully poor

offline modes, meaning if you didn’t have an active internet

connection, a Chromebook was essentially a fancy paperweight.

Luckily,

Google’s done some stellar work fixing these issues with Chrome OS over

the past few years. Since Chrome OS first launched competitors, like

Microsoft, have been steadily rolling out cloud based versions of key

productivity tools, such as Microsoft Office, Skype, OneDrive.

More

serious business service providers, like Box, Dropbox, Salesforce and

SAP have also started creating cloud versions of their services.

As a result, Chrome OS now offers a complete suite of productivity services that will meet most consumer’s needs.

Google’s

also done great work improving Drive and Docs offline functionality.

Where before the functionality was at best limited, now it’s easy to

create and edit documents offline.

Chrome OS’ file management

system has also been updated, to make it easier to see what files are

currently being stored locally on the Chromebook.

The only area

still really lacking on Chrome OS is entertainment. Sure online

services, such as Spotify, Netflix and Amazon Instant video, have online

versions that work on Chrome OS. But there’s no easy way to play movies

and TV on the Chromebook without an internet connection – a fact not

helped by the fact it features a piddly 16GB of in-built, local storage.

Gaming

is also woefully under served and without an internet connection you

won’t be able to play anything more developed than Solitaire on a

Chromebook.

Asus Chromebook C201 – Performance

Powered by a

Rockchip Quad-Core RK3288C CPU, integrated Rockchip Mali T764 GPU and

either 2GB or 4GB of RAM, the C201 is fairly powerful by Chromebook

standards.

By comparison, the Toshiba Chromebook to runs using an

Intel Celeron processor that’s paired with 4GB of RAM in the Full HD

model and 2GB of RAM in the HD version – though a new version running using Intel’s new Broadwell line of chips is set to arrive later this year.

Gauging the processing

muscle of a Chromebook is difficult for a couple of reasons. First, as

mentioned before, because the majority of the work traditionally tasked

to a laptop’s CPU and GPU is offloaded to the cloud. Second, because

most standard benchmarking tools don’t work on Chrome OS.
Asus Chromebook C201
To get

round the second problem I used the java-based, Kraken benchmarking

tool. The benchmark tests browsing speeds, and by extension general

performance, by timing how long the laptop takes to perform a series of

automated tasks.

The Chromebook C201 ran in with a 5438.8ms score – on Kraken a low score is better.
By comparison the £419 Surface 3 scored 4,539.9ms on Kraken, while the £330 Acer Aspire Switch 11 scored 8606.0ms.

With

real world use, I didn’t notice any performance niggles on the

Chromebook C201. Using it offline or online, applications opened

instantly and the Chromebook never once chugged, even when running

multiple content rich website in the Chrome browser.

Asus Chromebook C201 – Battery Life

Asus

quotes the Chromebook C201’s 2-cell, 38 Watt-hour battery as offering 13

hours mixed use. With everyday use, while I never made it a full 13

hours, I was seriously impressed with the Chromebook’s battery life.

Streaming

video content on Netflix and BBC iPlayer I found the Chromebook

generally discharged between 10 to 15% per hour – which is seriously

impressive, regular laptops usually lose at least 20% running the same

test.

With normal use the Chromebook generally lasted between

11-to-12 hours of a single charge. Normal use entailed using it as my

main laptop, browsing the internet, watching a few shows on Netflix and

working on Google Docs throughout the day.

The Chromebook C201 also charged reasonable quickly. In general, it managed to fully charge from 0% in 45 minutes.

Asus Chromebook C201

Should I buy an Asus Chromebook C201?

Outside

of its disappointing screen the Chromebook C201 is a competent laptop

that will meet most buyers productivity and web browsing needs. However,

thanks to Chrome OS’ cloud-based nature, there’s little here for

gamers, or people outside of Google’s ecosystem without a regular

internet connection.

It’s also important to remember the Full HD Toshiba Chromebook 2 offers the same functionality and features a significantly better display – meaning, it could be a better option if you can afford the extra £50.

Verdict

Asus C201 is a stellar Chromebook, that’s slightly let down by a poor display.

Score


Score in detail

  • Performance 8
  • Keyboard 8
  • Design 7
  • Screen Quality 6
  • Build Quality 7
  • Value 9
  • Touchpad 8
  • Battery Life 9

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