When premium Chromebooks first started becoming popular, my favorite was the ASUS Chromebook Flip C302. Back then, it was an underdog compared to the Samsung Chromebook Plus and Pro, but in 2019, the market has grown dramatically. Does the ASUS Chromebook Flip C434, the C302’s successor, hold up? I’ve spent the past few weeks finding out.
Nomad case for Pixel 3
Hardware & Design |
Like most premium Chromebooks we’ve seen over the past couple of years, the ASUS Chromebook Flip C434 is made from metal, slims down the bezels around its display, and uses a 360-degree hinge design. Overall, it’s a very solid design.
One thing I really like here is that the hinge uses the display to prop up the keyboard at an angle when you’re typing on a desk. It makes this laptop much more comfortable to type on. However, that hinge is a double-edged sword. The C434 doesn’t pass the one hand opening test by any means, and it feels a bit harder to open compared to most other Chromebooks I’ve used in recent months..
When it comes to the design and weight compared to the previous generation, I think ASUS has done fairly well in fixing the flaws while carrying over what worked. The C434 is wide compared to most Chromebooks of this size, and that makes for a less cramped keyboard. The large rounded corners of the previous model are also gone, now replaced with slight rounded, tight corners. The plastic-feeling build is also much more premium feeling than the “sticky” finish on the previous model.
The machine as a whole is also a bit bigger, thicker, and heavier than its predecessor. Personally, I don’t take issue with that. I think the machine’s dimensions and weight are perfectly acceptable, and they certainly don’t take away from the experience.
Along the left side of the machine, there’s a USB-C port, headphone jack, full-size USB port, and power/volume button. On the right, there’s only the USB-C port and a microSD card slot. I’ll never say it enough, having a USB-C port for charging on either side of the device is simply great.
Focusing in directly on the display, there’s a 14-inch panel this time around. That’s a pretty big upgrade from the 12.5-inch panel on the C302, and it also feels like a higher quality panel too. As mentioned, the bezels have also been trimmed down quite a lot, and that means less bulk in your bag, and also a much more immersive feeling when using the machine. For a laptop, I feel this is nearly the perfect size.
This display is also a 16:9 panel, which I have some mixed feelings about. It’s great for media, as content isn’t as heavily letterboxed. However, for getting work done or even general web browsing, a 4:3 aspect ratio would be better. Still, thanks to the thinner bezels and overall larger size, I didn’t feel too cramped while using the C434.
Brightness and viewing angles on this display are pretty good. There’s no angle a normal person would use the machine where it would look off, and brightness is good enough for a bright room, but you may struggle a little bit outdoors on a sunny day.
Software & Performance |
Just like the C302, ASUS put an Intel Core m3 chip inside of the C434. That’s not an uncommon chip for a Chromebook, and the ASUS Flip C434 handles everything I’ve thrown at it just fine paired with 4GB of RAM. Android apps and PWAs work without any hiccups too, although I’ve had a couple of slowdowns when opening a large number of tabs at once. That’s pretty much the same with any other Chromebook in this range, though. The Pixel Slate sees the same power, and everything pales in comparison to the mighty Lenovo Yoga C630.
Of course, being Chrome OS, the experience you’ll get here is the same as any other Chromebook. The latest versions of the OS just keep getting better, and Linux support is making these machines primary computer-worthy for a lot of people. The ASUS Chromebook C434 offers this functionality out of the box, and of course the Play Store is there the first time you boot up as well.
If there’s one thing I miss when using the C434 it’s Google Assistant. That functionality is already available on the Pixelbook and Pixel Slate, and quite often I find myself wishing it was on other Chromebooks such as the C434. Apparently, though, that feature is on its way.
Keyboard & Trackpad |
One thing I especially found myself enjoying on the C434 was the keyboard. It’s well-spaced, backlit, and has comfortable travel. As previously mentioned, the wider design of the machine as a whole means the keyboard isn’t cramped, and that means there’s also more space to either side of the device. The one major flaw with this keyboard, though, is the color. The keys all match the silver color of the body which means the characters aren’t easily visible in a dark room, especially if they’re backlit. It’s a shame, but not a deal-breaker.
Something that ASUS has massively improved since the C302 is the trackpad. On the ASUS Chromebook Flip C434, the trackpad glides smoothly, moves accurately, and taps with a satisfying click. That’s a stark contrast from the C302, which was so poor that I actively tried to use the touchscreen more often.
Battery Life |
As with any Chromebook, the battery life on the Chromebook Flip C434 is great. I can easily use the machine for a few days in increments without worrying about a charger, and a full charge typically buys around 8 hours on a single charge, if not more depending on usage.
In the charging department, USB-C is of course here which means the machine fills up pretty quickly. While I’ve not directly tested the charging times, this machine does feel like it charges up more quickly than others, as plugging into the wall for just a brief hour or so fully charged it from being in the single digits.
Final Thoughts |
Premium Chromebooks are no longer unique. Pretty much everyone has an option, and some of them are incredibly good. However, with the ASUS Chromebook Flip C434, I can say you’ll get a machine you’ll be happy with. After seeing success with the C302, ASUS is not quite the underdog anymore, and the C434 flexes the company’s muscle just a bit as a result.
There’s very little to complain about with the C434, except for perhaps the price tag. The C302 happily sat beneath $500 and undercut the competition, but the C434 goes up to $579 from Amazon and Best Buy for the m3/4GB model I’ve been testing. Luckily, it often goes on sale. I generally see the lowest price at B&H Photo, where it’s currently $529 brand new.
More on Chromebooks:
- Google abandons two in-development tablets, will focus solely on laptops going forward
- Review: Lenovo Chromebook C330 brings back the budget Chromebook for well under $300
- Google pulls the plug on ‘Project Campfire,’ a way for Chromebooks to dual-boot Windows