Following the huge success that the Flip 2-in-1 C100PA turned out to be, ASUS have recently released a new and slightly improved version of the already popular Chromebook. The ASUS C100PA-DS03 is a step forward, and for such a small price difference between the two, it would be unwise to choose the old model over this one.
Tech specs at a glance:
- Rockchip RK3288 processor
- 4 gigabytes of DDR3 RAM
- 32-gigabyte eMMC storage drive
- 10.1″ IPS WXGA touch display
- 802.11ac WLAN with built-in Bluetooth 4.1
- Chrome OS
Despite of the rather thick screen bezel, I think the ASUS C100PA-DS03 is one of the more fine-looking convertible Chromebooks being sold today. Its brushed like silver chassis engulfs the roomy, black-colored keyboard in what can only be described as a marriage between functionality and understated design choices. Think simple colors, slightly rounded corners, sufficient key gap, lower case lettering, and so on.
This sleekness heavily contrasts with the tablet part of the ASUS C100PA-DS03, which looks… how to put it? Bulky. Yet it only looks like it would weigh much, but in reality this device is no more than a featherweight: it tips the scale at precisely 2 pounds.
While looks can be judged individually, performance isn’t up to any debate. First, it’s worth noting that this is one of the more cost-friendly convertible Chromebooks on the market, so users shouldn’t expect rocketship-like performance.
Still, I believe the ASUS has what it takes to successfully navigate through a host of apps and real life scenarios with ease.
The ASUS C100PA-DS03 is equipped with a mobile-optimized Rockchip RK3288 processor. This CPU has been specifically manufactured for Android and Chrome OS devices, has four cores and a clock speed of 1.8 GHz. Sure, it’s not comparable with an Intel i3 processor, but why should it be? Apps that you’ll find in the Play Store are built to take full advantage of ARM processors, and that’s a good thing for both performance and battery life.
System memory is capped at 4 gigabytes of DDR3L SDRAM. While not user upgradable, I believe this amount to be most adequate for the vast majority of users, starting from people who’ll use it to check emails and social media to folks who may rely on it as a main work device.
Storage space has seen an improvement since the last model, but it’s still modest in terms of absolute capacity. The ASUS C100PA-DS03 has a 32-gigabyte eMMC storage drive on which you’ll be able to host all your apps and important documents. For photos, slideshows, media libraries and so on, you’ll be glad to know Google offers 100 gigabytes of storage space on Google Drive for all Chromebook owners.
Graphics and display
Since we’re talking about an affordable Chromebook, dedicated graphics is entirely out of the question. The ASUS has a ARM Mali-T764 integrated GPU, which will stream 1080p and even 4K content without glitches, although sometimes it may struggle with the latter.
Display quality is impressive for such a low-price Chromebook: the ASUS features a 10.1-inch 1280×800 HD IPS touch display. I’m pleasantly surprised by the fact that they’ve managed to fit in an IPS display, which offers richer colors, deeper contrast and improved viewing angles, in this all-purpose Chromebook.
Also, being a convertible 2-in-1 laptop means it can be used in 4 modes thanks to its special 360-degree rotating hinges. However, the screen can’t be detached. You’ll be able to use it as a laptop, as a tent, as a stand or as a tablet, depending how much you rotate its display.
Interface and connectivity options
Although it would seem that the ASUS C100PA-DS03 hasn’t fully made the jump to 2017, interface options are satisfying. There’s no USB-C, no USB-3.0 ports, which may irk some folks who depend on high speed transfer speeds. For those who don’t, here are the available I/O ports:
- 2 x USB 2.0 ports
- 1 x micro-HDMI port
- 1 x COMBO audio jack
- 1 x micro SD card slot
And since this a Chromebook that’s supposed to be connected to the Internet at least 90% of the time it’s being used, connectivity should be top-notch. And it is.
- 802.11ac WLAN
- Bluetooth 4.0
Portability and battery life
As I mentioned in the beginning this review, the ASUS C100PA-DS03 is a featherweight device, with much of its weight concentrated under its display. It weighs just 2 pounds. It is, therefore, light enough to carry around everywhere you may go if you plan on working remotely. Coffee shops, airports, different continents, you name it.
Plus, the battery helps this Chromebook achieve its full travel companion status. A full charge of the 2-cell battery pack provides enough juice for up to 9 hours of moderate use – more than a day’s worth of work being done without the need to plug it in.
At the end of the day, this device isn’t a match for low to mid-range Windows laptops. It lacks some power to be able to compete with those.
However, where the ASUS C100PA-DS03 shines, those laptops can’t even come close: portability, ease of use, value for money and looks. If you need a disposable, yet potent device for your travels, or your day-to-day activities (think writing emails, browsing the internet and social media, editing documents and streaming videos on YouTube), this ASUS should be one of your best bets.