Looking back over the last few years, ASUS has had a remarkable presence in the Chromebook world. From prominent devices like the original ASUS Chromebook Flip C100 to the fan favorite Flip C302, the company continues to create Chromebooks that users love and enjoy using. The follow-up to the C302 – Flip C434 – was particularly interesting as it took almost two years to uncover and really pushed things forward with a larger screen, small frames and a thin / solid frame that was part of the overall maturation of the Chromebook platform. Notable devices that came out around that time were the Dell Inspiron 14 Chromebook, Lenovo Yoga C630 and HP x360 14.
When 2020 arrived and we rolled out to Las Vegas for CES, we were excited to see what ASUS ‘upgrade to the well-received Flip C434 would be, and while it was nice on the show floor, was our review time with this Chromebook. was far from exemplary. In fact, I was almost depressed by how aggravated I was with the Flip C436 after using it for a short time. With a high starting price, a mediocre screen, a hard-to-see keyboard and a flimsy feel, this Chromebook was flat-out set up by what Samsung brought to the same show that year in the original Galaxy Chromebook.
Turning the tide
But this year, everything seems to have changed. While there were some hiccups in the PR cycle that led us to believe that there would be no new ASUS Chromebooks at CES 2021, ASUS actually prepared the announcement of not just a single new Chromebook, but a small new family of them. We posted the specifications, photos and details of the new ASUS Chromebook CX9, Flip C536 and Flip CM5 in a previous post, but there is only more to the story than specification sheets and pictures.
Simply put, it feels like ASUS is back. Back to making sharp, attractive devices, back to hitting the right steps on the spec sheet, and back to building Chromebooks that I think a lot of people will love. Between the three, there should be opportunities to fit more budgets, screens that look good with their smaller frames, and build materials that are not only attractive, but also do well. The fact that they draw attention to the keyboard on both the Flip C536 and Flip CM5, tells me that they pay attention to the feel of these Chromebooks. The fact that they included the significant ergonomic promise of the Chromebook CX9 that you only see in high-end ASUS laptops, tells me that they take the Chrome OS and Chromebook so much more seriously.
While the Flip CM5 and Flip C536 are likely to come in as medium-sized Chromebooks (with higher specification options), the Chromebook CX9 will be an absolute beast for power users and creative professionals. Aside from not turning to a tablet direction, this device seems to nail everything from looks to features to portability. At just 2.2 pounds, it will be the lightest 14-inch Chromebook ever made, and will pack everything you need for massive productivity. 11th generation Intel processors with tons of RAM and storage (up to 2 TB in some models) will marry the 400-nit screen, backlit keyboard and Thunderbold 4 for ultimate flexibility and power. It will probably be expensive, but it will also be an animal.
Instead of just marketing that device, ASUS has really presented a rounded offering this year. With AMD processors on board, the Flip CM5 will probably be the most affordable in the group, and I could see models of this Chromebook showing up for under $ 500 as a starting price. Sure, the advanced configurations with more RAM and storage will increase, and I could see that the CX9 was one of the most expensive Chromebooks ever in top trim, but that’s the beauty of it. With all of these devices and all of their different options, there is surely a device and configuration that meets the needs of most users.
Honestly, I’m shocked by everything that ASUS does on the Chromebook space this year, and I’m excited to see these devices and get them in hand. We have a bit of a wait for the CX9 as it is scheduled for a Q2 release, but we will see the Flip C536 for too long with the Q1 release schedule. As a start to the Tiger Lake Chromebook era, I do not think I could have asked for much more from one company. Now, about the Acer device that Intel teased in the main speech …