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It’s no secret that I’m a big fan of Chromebooks. I adore the straightforward nature of them. I like the lack of bells and whistles, which suits me just fine because I primarily use mine as a work machine.
Nowadays, Chromebooks come in just about every kind of variety, from gaming machines to luxurious convertibles. Although convertible Chromebooks, aka 2-in-1s, aren’t new to the tech world, there are a couple of real standouts. Asus’ Chromebook CM34 Flip is one such example.
The CM34 Flip is a good laptop for the everyday person. You’ll find AMD hardware under the hood as well as a touch-enabled display with skinny bezels, a 360-degree hinge and phenomenal battery life. As far as features and functionalities go, this specific machine checks off a lot of boxes.
Having used various Chromebooks for the last couple of years or so (I consider myself to be well-versed in this category), I can confidently say that the CM34 Flip is well worth the money.
Design & build
The dark blue colour scheme is definitely subtle, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. There’s an air of sophistication here. I know I wouldn’t mind bringing this laptop to an important business meeting.
It’s not ugly, per se, but maybe just a touch on the boring side. We operate in a world of grey rectangular boxes, so I like seeing a nice pop of colour every now and then, even if that colour is more understated. It’s still a nice touch.
IDG / Ashley Biancuzzo
What surprised me was the weight of the machine. For a convertible laptop, it’s pretty heavy. When I removed it from the box, I could feel all 4lb (1.81kg) of it weighing down my arms. That’s not what I was expecting.
While I was disappointed in the general heaviness, it gets brownie points for durability, as it definitely feels well-made. When I flipped the screen around 360 degrees, the hinge holding the screen to the rest of the laptop was nice and tight. I didn’t notice any creaking in the keyboard deck, either.
Keyboard & trackpad
Overall, the keyboard is nice to use. It’s a full-sized backlit keyboard that allows for 1.4mm of travel. I’m of the mind that if I use a keyboard long enough, I’ll get accustomed to it regardless of whether it stinks or not.
Fortunately, this keyboard is pretty good for a laptop keyboard.I like that it’s full-sized, which leaves a good amount of space between the keys and the backlighting is nice for typing in low-light environments. It doesn’t include a numpad, but that’s more common on gaming laptops.
IDG / Ashley Biancuzzo
The touchpad is phenomenal, however. It measures 5.55-inches and it sits right in the centre of the keyboard deck. It registered my taps and swipes with ease. I could also zoom in and out in one smooth, seamless motion. If there were any misfires, they were few and far between. I found that I adapted to it right away.
Display & audio
I really like the display’s 16:10 aspect ratio as well as the ultra-slim bezels. You’re getting a good amount of screen here. I found that it was super easy for me to scroll through a long article I was editing.
It’s also a good screen for watching Netflix, YouTube videos and so on. When I watched the trailer for the Barbie movie, the various shades of pink in Barbie’s fantastically outrageous world were both vibrant and sharp.
By the way, the display features a resolution of 1920×1080 and a refresh rate of 60Hz. That’s perfectly suitable for general-purpose use or office work.
IDG / Ashley Biancuzzo
My only gripe with the display is that it’s super reflective in outside environments. I like to work from my deck on nice days, but it’s almost impossible to do so with the Flip because it’s so difficult to see the display under direct sunlight.
In terms of brightness, it measures about 300 nits, which is fine for indoor but outside is another story. That said, this isn’t unusual for touchscreen laptops. If you don’t typically use your laptop outside, then you probably won’t ever encounter this problem.
I don’t consider myself much of an audiophile, but even I can appreciate clear-sounding speakers. The Flip is outfitted with Harman Kardon-certified speakers, which have a bit of a punch to them (that’s a good thing).
I’m a child of the ’90s, so I’ve got a carefully curated playlist playing at all times. When I started playing music from The Cranberries, Dolores O’Riordan’s (RIP) powerful vocals sounded crisp and full. I’d say the speakers are powerful enough to fill a medium-sized room with sound.
Webcam & ports
The 1080p webcam is a nice perk, that’s for sure. With so many people working from home (hi!) these days, it just makes sense to equip laptops with 1080p webcams instead of the cheaper 720p fare. Frankly, I don’t want to look grainy in videoconferencing calls.
Overall, I was pleased with the quality of this webcam. Colours looked rich and warm, and I didn’t notice any blurring around my face. Background details were relatively clear, too.
The Flip has a nice selection of ports. You’re getting one HDMI 2.1, two USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-C, one USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-A, one audio jack, one microSD card reader, and one Kensington lock slot.
That’s a good variety right there, so you don’t really need to keep an adapter with you. This is good news for those times when you want to plug in an external mouse or monitor.
IDG / Ashley Biancuzzo
The Flip was one of the first to include AMD’s line of Chromebook-specific CPUs. The AMD Ryzen 3 7320C CPU contains four cores and eight threads, which means it’s capable of handling multiple tasks and applications at once. I didn’t notice much slowdown when I was jumping from tab to tab within the browser.
However, it’s important to temper your expectations, as it’s not the strongest performer out there. It’s better than those with Snapdragon CPUs, sure, but it’s not going to perform like more powerful AMD chips.
The Spin 514 has a CPU with six cores and 12 threads, which means it’s more powerful in the processing department. The more cores, the better. However, the Spin is also more expensive due to that hardware.
The Flip can handle everyday tasks just fine and if that’s all you’re looking for, then it won’t disappoint. Here’s how the Asus Chromebook CM34 Flip performed in our browser-based benchmarks:
CrXPRT 2: 148
Basemark Web 3.0: 725.03
Jetstream 2: 171.377
The Acer Chromebook Spin 514, for example, earned a score of 210 in our Speedometer benchmark, which measures the responsiveness of web applications. The Flip, on the other hand, scored just 73.7. If I had to guess, it’s likely due to the Flip’s CPU, which doesn’t have as many cores or threads.
In real-world use, I’m not sure you’d notice that much of a difference between the machines as far as performance goes, unless you intentionally run the Flip into the ground by overwhelming it with a bunch of open tabs and applications. It’s not a powerful Windows machine, but then again it’s not trying to be.
The Flip lasted a jaw-dropping 19 hours on a single charge, which is positively wild. In fact, I ended up running the benchmark twice because I was so surprised by the result and felt the need to verify it.
We run the CrXPRT 2 battery benchmark on Chromebooks, which cycles through various tasks until the laptop dies. The Flip’s 60Wh battery is on the larger side, so I expected it to reach the 10 hour mark, but the final result exceeded my expectations.
If you’re on the hunt for a long-lasting everyday machine, you really can’t get much better than this. Holy cow.
With its vibrant touchscreen, 2-in-1 form factor and fantastic battery life, the Flip has a lot to offer at this $599 price point.
It’s a good option for college students or those who just need an everyday machine. The touchpad is spacious and the 1080p webcam captures clear, colourful video.
It’s heavier than most convertible laptops, though, which may be a dealbreaker to some people: you might end up with a sore shoulder if you plan on lugging it around day after day.
That said, if you don’t mind the additional heft, it’s a really good value buy. Hopefully it’ll come to the UK at some point.
Ashley is a professional writer and editor with a strong background in tech and pop culture. She has written for high traffic websites such as Polygon, Kotaku, StarWars.com, and Nerdist. In her off time, she enjoys playing video games, reading science fiction novels, and hanging out with her rescue greyhound.