TAIPEI, Taiwan -- I'll admit when Asus announced in March that it was making a Chromebook hybrid, I was not hopeful. But today (June 3) at Computex, I was pleasantly surprised. The 10-inch Asus Chromebook Flip's sleek profile, lightweight and sexy silver chassis looked great, and its sturdy 360-degree hinge made turning the Flip from laptop to tablet mode a breeze. It will be available in the fourth quarter this year, and the earlier announced price will be $249.
At a mere 0.61 inches thin and 1.9 pounds light, the Chromebook Flip is extremely portable. I felt no strain at all wielding it with one arm. The unit that I saw seemed a little buggy, since there was some distortion with parts of the background overlaying onto the app in the foreground. It's not clear whether that's a fault of the particular unit I saw or a symptom of the Rockchip CPU that comes in the Flip.
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Thanks to the rotating hinge, you can use the Chromebook Flip in laptop, tablet and stand (or tent) modes. The latter is when you flip the lid till it's about 270 degrees away from the keyboard and prop it up on a surface like a tent. This mode is great for hands-free multimedia consumption, displaying information or sharing a presentation. We've seen this hybrid style on plenty of other devices, but it's a first for a Chromebook.
In addition to the quad-core Rockchip CPU, the Chromebook Flip carries 2GB/4GB of RAM, 16GB of storage and an integrated Mali graphics card. Its 10.1-inch, 1280 x 800-pixel display seemed a little dim in the harshly lit convention center, but appears on par with other Chromebooks we've reviewed. Asus promises up to 9 hours of battery life with the Chromebook Flip, which could make this laptop a dependable all-day companion. Of course, we'll have to put it to the test in a full review to see if the Chromebook Flip delivers on its promises. Stay tuned for the details.