Lately I've been on the hunt for a good dual-purpose device. Part tablet, part laptop...something I could grab first thing in the morning when I'm going through email and quickly add stuff to our todo list for AP, see what's going on in team chat, and other things of that nature. I've been doing most of that from my tablet and/or phone, but trying to do those things quickly is just cumbersome on those devices.
Naturally, I've been considering a Surface Pro pretty heavily, but I just can't justify the price for something that's going to end up being a supplemental device that I don't actually need. The base model Surface was also intriguing, but if I'm going to get a Windows device, I want it to be something powerful and useful.
While I'm still trying to figure out if a Surface Pro is a good fit for both work tablet and laptop, I picked up a Chromebook Flip. It can do basically exactly what I've been looking for, and it does it all for $280, which is a damn-sight cheaper than any model of Surface.
I got the Flip yesterday, and I wanted to share some of my initial thoughts here.
First off, I've been using a Chromebook (Acer Chromebook 13) as my main laptop for close to a year now, so I have my workflow and apps down in a Chrome-only environment. That's another reason the Flip made sense for me.
What I didn't realize when I ordered the Flip is what a freakin' impressive little device it actually is. Right out of the box it's got a premium fit and finish - it feels like a high-end micro-laptop, not a "cheap Chromebook" like I was expecting. It easily feels better than my Chromebook 13, no question about it.
From there, it keeps getting better, too. While only 1280x800, the display is surprisingly good; again, better than my CB13. Smaller, yes. And lower res, yes (my CB13 is 1920x1080), but it's so much easier on the eyes. The Acer is just washed out, where the Flip looks very good. Like most of the reviews out there said, when you use the Flip in tablet mode, it becomes clear that the res is a little low. Still, it's not a dealbreaker (to me, anyway).
One thing I was worried about was the keyboard. I assumed that since this is basically a modern-day netbook, the keyboard would be trash. Nope, not at all - it's actually fantastic for such a small laptop! I can type on it basically at the same speed as my full-size desktop keyboard. Things have definitely come a long way since the days of the netbook.
Anyway, here's the thing that I'm most impressed about with the Flip: performance. I'm absolutely baffled at how snappy this little thing is. Of course I opted for the 4GB model - you'd be crazy to get the 2GB model just to save $30.
Compared to my Acer CB13, I'd say the Flip is actually faster, which I never expected. The processor seems to be pretty optimized for this kind of thing, where the Tegra in the CB13 kind of...isn't? Taking random looks at my system stats with Cog pretty much confirmed that for me, too. Basically, the processor seems to be more efficient at everything - it loads things quickly, and idles as soon as it's finished working. I don't often see that sort of reaction from my CB13, and it's running all the same stuff the Flip is at this point. They're both on dev channel, too. I like to live on the edge.
So, as far as Chromebooks are concerned, I'm absolutely blown away by the Chromebook Flip. The build quality is crazy-good, display is very usable, it has a solid keyboard and trackpad, and the performance is surprisingly awesome.
The real question is: is this the solution for my dual-purpose device? And for that, I don't yet have an answer since I just got it. I figure this little "experiment" will potentially give a handful of different results:
-I will love it and decide this can be used as a full-time tablet and laptop (not sure how likely that is, though).
-It will confirm that I do indeed want a Surface.
-It will be a great supplemental device and I can spring for the new Dell Chromebook 13 once it's available - keep the Flip as my take-everywhere, super portable machine, and use the Dell as my main laptop. I really think this is the most likely option.
-Maybe something else. Who knows.
Overall though, I'm super happy with my purchase, and I think this is a great little Chromebook. If you've been thinking about buying one, just do it. Don't even think about it any more.