For some, using a computer means casually checking email, surfing the Web and watching YouTube videos. If that describes your habits and needs, the $249 ASUS Chromebook C200M may be a compelling option. This ultraportable offers more than 12 hours of battery life in an attractive 11-inch package, but how does it compare to similarly priced Chromebooks?
The ASUS Chromebook C200M is affordable, but it doesn't look cheap from the outside. The lid uses a metal-like black plastic material adorned with a silver ASUS logo. Under the hood is a matte silver deck with an island-style keyboard. The only light is a small green LED for power.
The C200M's hinge is a bit bulky and inelegant, reminding us of an old-school netbook. We wish the bezel around the 11.6-inch display were thinner; there's some wasted space here. A silver-ringed 720p webcam sits above the screen.
Measuring 12 x 7 x 0.8 inches and weighing 2.5 pounds, the C200M is quite portable. The $299 Dell Chromebook 11 is a bit bulkier, at 11.6 x 7.9 x 0.9 inches and 2.6 pounds, as is the Acer Chromebook C720p, at 11.34 x 8.03 x 0.78 inches and 2.98 pounds.
DisplayToshiba Chromebook's measly 183 lux. But that's dimmer than the 251 nits average for most ultraportables. Viewing angles weren't great either. Colors started to reverse from about 40 to 45 degrees.
During an HD trailer of "Guardians of the Galaxy," explosions and nebulas appeared muted instead of awe inspiring on the C200M. The ship's edges weren't particularly sharp, and we observed some jumpiness in the video.
According to our color tests, the C200M can display only 59.7 percent of the sRGB color gamut (closer to 100 percent is better). The screen displayed colors with a Delta E accuracy rating of 10.7 (0 is perfect), which is far above the 6.6 average for ultraportables.
Dual speakers sit along the bottom left and right edges, which amplifies the sound when the C200M is on a hard, flat surface. We had no complaints about the subtleties of the chimes and string instruments in the background of Sinead O'Connor's rendition of "Black Coffee." Also, Jace Everett's booming bass came through with chilling vibrancy on "Bad Things."
While the audio sounded pleasant, it was loud enough to fill a small conference room, but not much more.
The C200M hit 79 dB on our audio test, which involves playing a tone and measuring it from 13 inches away. That is below the category average of 86. By comparison, the Toshiba Chromebook and Dell Chromebook 11 both reached a blaring 94 decibels, and the Acer C720p hit 91 dB.
Keyboard and Touchpad
As a Chromebook, the C200M also features a dedicated row along the top with Chrome OS-specific keys for brightness and volume control, while also sporting Refresh, Forward and Back buttons. These come in very handy by providing all sorts of shortcuts, including one for grabbing screenshots. Not surprisingly for a budget notebook, the keyboard isn't backlit.
The 4.1 x 2.4-inch, buttonless touchpad was responsive, perhaps too much so as it went zipping around the screen at a pace that made us a bit dizzy. Luckily, that's easy to adjust in the settings. The touchpad is comfortably larger than that on the Dell Chromebook 11 (4 x 2.25 inches) or the Acer Chromebook C720p (3.5 x 2 inches), but smaller than the one on the Toshiba Chromebook (4 x 3.75 inches).
After streaming a Hulu video for 15 minutes, we measured a temperature of 86 degrees Fahrenheit on the Chromebook's touchpad, and a bit warm 93 degrees between the G and H keys. While both were below our comfort threshold of 95 degrees, the underside reached exactly that threshold temperature. The Acer C720p got similarly warm, while the Dell and Toshiba Chromebooks stayed cool.
Ports and Webcam
The notebook's 720p webcam isn't stellar. A headshot taken in our office looked washed out, as the sun reflected off our pasty white skin. None of the selfies offered much detail.
The bottom right bar houses the time, Wi-Fi and battery status. Clicking the bottom right corner will get you to the settings for everything from wallpaper and privacy features to printer management. This is also where you go to turn the C200M off.
However, if you're going to do a lot of photo editing, or if you will run legacy apps of any kind, you'll want to look elsewhere. The app selection is simply not yet up to par with other operating systems.
MORE: Best Chrome Apps 2014
This Chromebook pairs a 2.4-GHz Intel Bay Trail-M dual-core N2830 CPU with 2GB of RAM and 16GB of flash storage. Sadly, these components offered lackluster performance on our various synthetic benchmarks. The system scored a low 1,533 on the Peacekeeper browser test, which is well below the 2,203 ultraportable average. The Toshiba Chromebook scored a much higher 2,920, and the Acer C720P scored 2,749. But the Dell Chromebook 11 takes the cake on this test, with a score of 2,969. All three of those systems feature a 1.4-GHz Intel Celeron 2955 CPU, which is based on the more powerful Haswell architecture that's used in mainstream laptops.
Bottom LineAcer C720p has a touch screen and much better performance; the $299 Dell Chromebook is also more powerful and manages to deliver longer battery life, and the $279 Toshiba Chromebook offers a larger display. Even when it comes to budget notebooks, some are better values than others.
|CPU||2.4-GHz Intel Bay Trail-M dual-core N2830|
|Operating System||Google Chrome|
|RAM Upgradable to|
|Hard Drive Size||16GB|
|Hard Drive Speed|
|Hard Drive Type||SSD Drive|
|Secondary Hard Drive Size|
|Secondary Hard Drive Speed|
|Secondary Hard Drive Type|
|Optical Drive Speed|
|Touchpad Size||4.1 x 2.4|
|Ports (excluding USB)||SD card slot|
|Ports (excluding USB)||Kensington Lock|
|Ports (excluding USB)||Headphone|
|Ports (excluding USB)||HDMI|
|Ports (excluding USB)||DC-in|
|Ports (excluding USB)||USB 3.0|
|Ports (excluding USB)||USB 2.0|
|Warranty/Support||1 year limited|
|Size||12 x 7.9 x 0.8 inches|