Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Asus C300 Chromebook Revisited

Back After A Week

So, I'm about a week in driving around my new Chromebook, an Asus C300. No regrets. Not a single one. Yeah, it's quite a bit smaller than the Acer Chromebook 15 my wife picked up, but with the size difference also comes a weight savings, about a 2 pound difference with the C300 weighing in at
about 3 pounds. Light as a feather. 

The shell

Naturally, the first thing you'll notice is the appearance. This really is one good looking laptop. Simple black except for the Chrome and Asus logos, with a nice texture on the top. I believe I mentioned before that this is thin as is all the rage in laptops these days. Admittedly it feels like the plastic it's made from. I'm sure if Asus had gone with some sort of aircraft aluminum it might feel more sturdy, but it would also cost more than the $250 I picked it up for, and I'm sure it would weigh in at a little more than 3 pounds. It looks good, is very light weight, and with a 13 inch screen, is big enough to use and see, but small enough so as not to feel too big to carry around with you. 

The display

I admit I haven't done much movie watching on this. Why choose a 13 inch screen when I've got a 42 inch screen in the living room? What little I have done, though, has been pretty impressive. For personal watching the picture is crisp and clear, bright colors, and generally easy to watch. You lose some clarity on angles, some people complain about this, but let's be serious. Are you really buying a 13 inch Chromebook so that you can gather all of your friends around to watch Goodfellas? Really? If you are, you're doing something wrong in your life. I'm very impressed with the picture quality. 
Maybe I could have a larger monitor for development work over a remote desktop session, but it's pretty rare that I can't see what's on the screen, and that's more about my difficulty seeing colors than a problem with the monitor. I've been coming home and using a remote desktop session to write code daily for a week and I have yet to say to hell with it and go actually sit at my desktop. 

The sound

Come on, it's laptop speakers. However, the sound is decent coming out of the speakers. Certainly better than the onboard speakers on my Lenovo laptop at work. What did catch me off guard was that my bluetooth headphones actually gave me a noticeably better sound than my Nexus 6 using the same headphones listening to the same tracks out of Google Play Music. Over bluetooth headphones the sound was more crisp and more detailed. This is pretty surprising to me, and I plan on spending more time with my Shure IEC headphones to experiment a little more. I'm certainly not an audiophile, but I am a music geek with a couple of higher than average pairs of headphones, so this really interests me. 

The keyboard and touchpad

I'm digging the keyboard and touchpad. The keyboard is quite, responsive, and feels solid. They are the standard chromebook keys, so no major variant from what's out there available, but these are solid and feel like quality keys. They're quite nice to type on. 
The touchpad is, naturally, head and shoulders above the one on my old CR-48. It's easy to use and responsive. This is a great change over the CR-48 in that I have a hell of a time actually doing the 2 and 3 finger gestures on the old one. The C300 touchpad has yet to miss an intended click. 

The performance

I guess the best example I can give is that I tend to use around 7 or 8 tabs, sometimes two browser windows, plus a remote desktop session in to the desktop machine running my development environment. With all this going on I haven't bogged down yet. One tab, 15 tabs and remote desktop, I haven't seen a performance difference yet. This has handled everything I've thrown at it and it takes it without trouble. 
For reference, I got the C300 with 4 gigs ram and 16 gigs local storage (because, really, if you need lots of storage on your Chromebook you're Chromebooking wrong)...

The battery life

In practice the battery is killer. My actual usage has been between 2 and 4 hours daily. Sometimes broken up, sometimes sitting in one long development and browsing session. In a week I've put it on the charger 3 times to let it charge back up overnight. The battery is awesome, especially when compared to the couple of hours I might be able to get out of my Windows laptop performing the exact same activities. 

I'm sold on Chromebooks, generally, and have no regrets at all about my specific Asus C300. I think I said it before, but I'll say it all day long. Everybody should have one of these. Even if you have one of these and a "real" computer, the ease of use and convenience of the Chromebook will have it acting as your primary computer before you realize you've stopped using that Windows computer that you absolutely cannot live without.