The Spinoff Reviews New Zealand #92: My new $400 Asus laptop

When Josie Adams broke her laptop last week, she knew she’d never find love like that again. Can the Asus Chromebook Flip C213SA offer a new kind of technological relationship? She reviews how it stands up to everyday use and the cosmic forces that seek to destroy her.

Last Thursday I accidentally gave my old Toshiba its final blows after three years of constant mistreatment. I first hooked myself into its power cord and smashed us both into the floor; two hours later I shattered a full mug of coffee on it.

No worries, I thought at the time. This unit has been through worse. I turned it off and upside down and hid myself in a corner, where I couldn’t hurt it anymore. I did manage to hurt myself over the rest of the day, by walking into the office whiteboard three times, becoming possessed by a chaos vortex, and being chased by a small pack of bees.

My mind and body had teamed up to absolutely lose it, and my computer paid the price. When it didn’t turn on after three days, I had to move on. Still, a solid 10/10 review for my old mate. It never complained, not when I cracked the screen and not once in the 700 days I’ve refused to get it repaired since. It dealt with more than any computer should have to, and I will miss it dearly.

A new computer could never replace it, so I looked for a totally different beast. I made a list of my computing needs and then crossed off everything incompatible with the curse I believe has been laid on me (local storage, high repair costs, fragility).

I landed on the Asus Chromebook Flip C213SA. At just over $400 it’s small and simple, but very sturdy. It’s also designed for schoolchildren, which I didn’t realise on purchase but makes a lot of sense in hindsight.

Chromebooks are often cheaper than standard laptops for two reasons: one, they’re designed to be portable and lightweight; and two, they run on Google software, which is free. 

The C213SA has 4GB of RAM and 32GB of eMMC, so it’s not world-beating in terms of memory. It has enough for your photos, some movies, and your electronic voice phenomena recordings.

The 11.6” screen is small, but not at all like a tablet. It’s more like an early noughties portable DVD player, and has a similar visual quality. It sits in a dark plastic frame, which is bezeled externally to render it both anti-scratch and anti-fingerprint. If anything occult tries to tear into your Chromebook, they’ll leave no trace. The smooth plastic surrounding the keyboard and screen frame do not have the same feature, making for a comfortable palm rest, though a greasy one if you’re like me and have oil-slick skin.

The keyboard itself isn’t backlit, but is surprisingly well-spaced given the size of the computer, meaning I can still type in the dark from muscle memory alone.

The battery, motherboard, and keyboard are all modular, which means they can be repaired independently of each other; and they will need to be, given that the spirits of a hundred underpaid Harvey Norman workers are currently coursing through my body.

The audio is good. It’s not amazing, but when a hundred spectral voices tried to come through it the quality was remarkably good considering they came out of 11 inches of plastic casing.

The computer has two cameras, one above the keyboard and one above the base. No matter how you bend the 360-degree adjustable touch screen, you’ll be able to record paranormal activity from all sides. And with a battery that lasts all night, you won’t miss a thing.

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This being said, the camera quality is poor. I anticipated this, but thought would give me a soft focus glamour glow. Instead it paints me a minion-esque shade of yellow and brings out the dark orbs floating around my head.

My final verdict is a solid 6/10. The C213SA is cheap, which is good because I will destroy it and need a replacement within the year. It’s small, which is good because when my laptop bag inevitably rips itself to shreds I’ll need to catch it with one hand. It’s resistant to most computer viruses, which is good because I have a lot of viruses stored on discs around the house and sometimes I worry I’ll accidentally plug one in.

On the other hand, the very small screen and terrible graphics mean I will have to invest in another computing system so I can play back my thermal anomaly videos in high quality. Another flaw is the right-click here is designed like a Mac; you use two fingers to click the touchpad instead of literally right-clicking. As a lifelong Windows user, this is as frustrating as the psychic blows of my loved ones’ unspoken betrayals. There is also no caps lock key, which is possibly the greatest flaw in any computer ever conceived.

Ultimately, I am only a 6/10 person so this is perfect for me. It’s what I deserve.


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