When you spend more than $500 on a computer, such as the Asus VivoBook Flip 14 ($799), you have baseline expectations for what you're going to get. While the screen on this 14-inch convertible makes colors pop in videos and photos, the laptop fails on a number of other counts: Its battery life is far below average, its keyboard makes typing reports even more of a chore and it gets frustratingly unresponsive when you're waking it from sleep. Don't worry, though; you can get a better machine for a similar price.
The VivoBook Flip 14's slightly sparkly blue lid features a shiny silver Asus logo in the middle. Its keyboard deck may be a pro or a con, based on your taste; its grooved design struck the fancy of some Laptop Mag staffers, though it did nothing for me.
At 3.3 pounds and 0.8 inches thick, the 14-inch VivoBook is heavier and thicker than the 13.3-inch Lenovo Yoga 720 (2.8 pounds, 0.6 inches) and thicker than the 13.3-inch Dell Inspiron 13 7000 2-in-1 (3.4 pounds, 0.61 inches).
On the left side, you'll find two USB 2.0 ports, an SD card reader, a security lock slot, and buttons for power and volume. Over on the right, there's a USB Type-C port, HDMI out, a USB 3.0 port and a headphone jack.
While watching a Black Panther trailer on the VivoBook's 14-inch screen, I noted how well it reproduced a range of hues. Not only did the gold and red of Okoye's outfit shine and pop, but the display showed a wide variety of rich and saturated black tones for T'Challa's armor, shadows of ships and an SUV flipping over on a Wakandan street. This 1080p display is kind on details too, as I didn't need to strain my eyes to notice the intricately woven patterns of Ramonda's garb.
Producing 131 percent of the sRGB spectrum, the VivoBook's panel beats the 104-percent category average and the 110-percent Dell Inspiron 13. The 127-percent Lenovo Yoga 720 produces a similar range of color.
The 250-nit display on the VivoBook isn't tremendously bright, but it does come close to the 255-nit 14-inch-laptop average. The 280-nit Yoga 720 and 287-nit Inspiron 13 get brighter. The VivoBook doesn't offer a wide range of viewing angles, either, as its colors darken significantly when viewed at 30 degrees to the left or right.
The VivoBook Flip's touch screen is speedy and accurate, tracking my input smoothly as I navigated the desktop and doodled in MS Paint. It also recognized Windows 10's swipe gestures for seeing all windows and opening the right menu pane.
Keyboard and Touchpad
The VivoBook's bouncy keyboard is no fun to write on. While I managed to click-clack my way to 77 words per minute on the 10fastfingers.com typing test, I noted that my fingers began to hurt, which I attribute to the amount of flex in this cheap-feeling keyboard.
The 4.1 x 2.8-inch touchpad in the VivoBook accurately tracked my input as I clicked through tabs in Chrome. It also offered a solid feel to each click, and I observed smooth scrolling when leafing through my TweetDeck lists.
The VivoBook's downward-firing speakers can bring some power, as they filled our medium-size conference room with pretty decent sound. While listening to St. Vincent's "Los Ageless," I noted an acceptable amount of bass, accurate vocals and crisp drums.
The included IcePower AudioWizard sound-presets utility is best left alone. Its default Music setting is best, and other modes (such as Movie, Gaming and Speech) overemphasize one end of the spectrum to the detriment of others. For example, Movie mode lowers everything but vocals.
Annoyingly, though, I found the system to be unresponsive after waking it from sleep; tapping icons on the touch screen did nothing, and Chrome took 15 seconds to load. This lag is likely due to the 5,400-rpm hard drive, which -- as we see below -- is far slower than the storage devices in its competitors.
The VivoBook scored a once decent -- but now subpar -- 7,578 on the Geekbench 4 general performance benchmark, which is less than the 8,770 category average and far below the 12,949 we saw from the Dell Inspiron 13, which packs a more modern 8th-Gen Core i5-8250U and 8GB of RAM. We recorded a close 7,300 from the Lenovo Yoga 720 (Core i5-7200U with 8GB of RAM).
The 1TB, 5,400-rpm moving-parts hard drive in the VivoBook Flip duplicated a DVD's worth of files in 2 minutes and 40 seconds, for a speed of 31.8 MBps. That's far slower than the 234-MBps category average and the speeds from the 256GB NVMe M.2 PCIe SSD in the Yoga 720 (318.08 MBps) and the 256GB M.2 SSD in the Inspiron 13 (108.3 MBps).
The VivoBook Flip finished our OpenOffice macro test -- matching 20,000 names to addresses in the productivity app -- in a short 3 minutes and 34 seconds. That's near the 3:48 we saw from the Inspiron 13, and less than the 4:17 category average and the 4:02 from the Yoga 720.
The Intel HD Graphics 620 integrated GPU in the VivoBook notched a low score of 67,436 on the 3DMark Ice Storm Unlimited graphics test. That's less than the 77,913 category average and the 80,845 from the Inspiron 13 (Intel UHD Graphics 620), and similar to the 68,657 from the Yoga 720 (Intel HD Graphics 620).
VivoBook owners can expect enough horsepower for modest, but not too demanding, gaming titles. The notebook ran Dirt 3 (set to medium graphics at 1920 x 1080p) at 44 frames per second, which beats our 30-fps playability threshold but falls below the 48-fps category average and the rates from the Yoga 720 (52 fps) and the Inspiron 13 (50 fps).
The VivoBook's battery life is so short that I almost want a comedy-show audience to yell back, "HOW SHORT IS IT?" The system lasted only 5 hours and 23 minutes on the Laptop Mag Battery Test (web surfing at 100 nits). That's similar to the 5:32 from the Dell Inspiron 13 but more than 3 hours shy of the 8:38 category average and far behind the 7:04 from the Lenovo Yoga 720.
I tried to look happy in the selfie I shot using the 0.3-megapixel webcam in the VivoBook. But the second I saw how dark and blurry I looked in the viewfinder, I lost my smile, which left me looking distinctly nauseous.
Maybe this would prove acceptable for those on Skype calls who have the lowest expectations, but this image quality would barely be acceptable in a smartphone from 2007, much less a laptop released today.
While we found the wrist rests unusually warm, the VivoBook never got uncomfortably hot. After we streamed 15 minutes of HD video on the notebook, our heat gun captured temperatures on the touchpad (80 degrees Fahrenheit), keyboard (86 degrees) and underside (88 degrees) that fell well below our 95-degree comfort threshold.
The VivoBook Flip 14 is a Signature Edition PC, meaning it contains the fewest nonessential apps from third-party developers that you'll find on a new PC.
But that doesn't mean you're free of bloat. You still get free-to-play games like Bubble Witch 3 Saga and Candy Crush Soda Saga, or "freemium" apps such as the Keeper password utility, which is cut-rate at best. (Our sister site Tom's Guide rated it a 7 out of 10, and recommends you go for LastPass, which got a 9/10, instead). Feel free to delete all of them without a second thought.
As colorful as the display is, there are far too many issues with the Asus VivoBook Flip 14 to recommend this 2-in-1. Its sub-6-hour battery life is a deal breaker on its own, and when that's paired with a bouncy keyboard and a sluggish hard drive, this laptop will give you too many headaches.
Instead, get the $829 Lenovo Yoga 720, which provides more battery life, similar (or better) speed and a display that's just as vibrant. The VivoBook Flip 14 may be $30 less, but you shouldn't be paying $799 for a laptop with this many problems.
Credit: Shaun Lucas/Laptop Mag