Recently we’ve been reviewing a lot of small laptops because they seem to be “in” these days. Portability and convenience are the words of the day. Well, one prominent subnotebook category is undoubtedly the Chromebooks. One of the latest addition to this family of Google Chrome powered laptops is ASUS Chromebook C300MA-DH02, to which we’re taking a closer look below.
Being the captain obvious here, ASUS Chromebook C300MA-DH02 doesn’t come with familiar Windows. The operating system is Google Chrome which some describe being a mere Chrome browser. Technically that is true, but you can still use it almost like a true Windows laptop. You can’t install Windows programs on it (without hacking), but Google has made equivalents for MS Office, Skype and other important applications of the Windows side. These Chromebooks are also intended to use with cloud services, so having Internet access as often as possible is a very good idea.
Performance-wise, the ASUS offers similar entry-level components found in other Chromebooks. The processor is Intel Celeron N2830, a common power efficient dual core CPU with 2.16GHz clock speed. The 2.4GHz turbo would help in performance a little, but in general these Celerons are not adequate for demanding tasks. Same can be said about the Chrome OS in whole. For everyday computing, however, the Celeron works fine.
This particular model comes with 4GB RAM, which is definitely a pleasant thing after seeing so many Chromebooks with just 2GB memory. The four gigabytes definitely comes handy, for example with multitab browsing. Adding more memory is however not possible, so you’d have to go with the default 4GB until the end.
The storage solution of Chromebooks has developed from chunky and slow hard drives to quick solid-state drives. They lack in raw storage, ASUS Chromebook C300MA-DH02 featuring just 16GB space, but on the other hand they’re very quick in use. There’s also the option to use 100GB of Google Cloud space for free, or to simply add a memory card to give you sort-of an upgrade for local storage.
Chromebooks tend to be small, this one being no exception. The 13.3″ non-touch display features a 1366×768 resolution for the dissatisfaction of techies, but again for your daily workload in home or office that should suffice. One doesn’t really need a Full HD resolution on such a small screen.
How about gaming on this rig?
ASUS Chromebook C300MA-DH02 wasn’t made for gaming. At least not in the sense of traditional Windows gaming. You can’t just simply install your favorite Windows games on this ASUS and start playing. Again, there are hacks for this, like using the Wine browser through Ubuntu that you install alongside the Chromebook. However, it’s quite a tedious task for an average user and the emulator would also use system resources on its own, so you’d end up having even less powerful gaming system at your disposal. Combine that with Celeron processor and its poor Intel HD Graphics chip, and you can say basically say goodbye to Windows games.
What you can however do is to play browser games. They’re OS independent, don’t require lots of resources, and since you’re already using the Chrome browser, there’s nothing stopping you from playing those lightweight web-based titles like Arcane Legends.
ASUS Chromebook C300MA-DH02 features two USB ports, not a lot, but allowing at least for some simultaneous peripheral connections. A HDMI output is located on the left, giving you an opportunity to use the Chromebook with HDTV if its 13.3″ display appears too small to you.
There’s no Ethernet port in this laptop, but you’ll get a dual-band 802.11ac WiFi with Bluetooth 4.0 support.
No optical drive is featured in this ASUS due to Chromebook’s attitude towards CDs and DVDs. You couldn’t play any movie DVDs on it due to incompatibility with video codecs, but theoretically you could plug a USB optical drive and read data DVDs that way. However, there’s a built-in method for data transferring: a media card reader. It supports SD and SDHC cards, and as said above, it also lets you to temporarily expand the local storage space.
A HD webcam and microphone are installed on the system, just like on Windows laptops, however using Skype on it doesn’t work. As a workaround, you can use Google Hangouts for video meetings.
Something else to keep in mind?
We’re saving the best for the last: the portability. ASUS Chromebook C300MA-DH02 is easy to carry due to its low 3.1 pounds weight and 0.8″ thickness. Add the 10 hours battery life to that equation and you get pretty darn portable computer. That said, the duration of 10 hours is achieved in an environment very favorable to the manufacturer. You could probably get the same when browsing the web with reduced screen brightness, but not with movie watching or doing other system intensive tasks.
Summing it up
Like somebody else said in his review, if you want to be modern, Chromebook could be a good choice for you. It can do about all the things a typical home user might need, be it web browsing, movie watching or text editing. The catch is, not many of those tasks work the familiar Windows-way, but Google has developed tools for all the common things (Google Docs for MS Office, Hangouts for Skype etc.) one might do on his computer. Its obvious ASUS Chromebook C300MA-DH02 isn’t a friend of, say, video editor or devout gamer, but a noteworthy (and cheap!) option for a home or office user wanting to give a try to something new.