In my search for an affordable travel laptop, I found the ASUS C300MA Chromebook, which I’ve been using for a couple of weeks before I set off.
My main draw was the price, at only £179.99 (since I purchased this laptop, it’s price has gone up to £225.00 on Amazon) it’s very affordable, but after using it, the build and battery life are actually what set it apart from other Chromebooks of similar retail value.
While the keyboard itself does feels budget in all-black, externally it’s a nice looking laptop with a dark, matte-finish cover thats stylish. When combined with the hidden screen hinge, it isn’t something you’d feel ashamed to use in a coffee shop or even sat in the park. In fact, the Chrome branding adds to the appeal as it’s got just a dash of colour.
A slight niggle is that the lid doesn’t have an indent to help you lift it from the base of the laptop, but it’s a small point you get used to pretty quickly.
Advertised with an 8hour battery life, I’ve got 10hours out of this model. This was when it was used for general internet browsing, watching videos and answering emails; exactly what I need it for. If these suit your requirements as well as uploading images, then you won’t be disappointed.
To extend the battery life further, reduce the brightness of the screen. I find 100% brightness is too much and makes my eyes tired, so having it on about 50% is right for me.
It’s not HD but it’s absolutely fine. When compared to my Mac is doesn’t hold up against the Retina display but I wouldn’t expect it to at this price. What you get is a clear, sharp image and strong colour definition.
At 13.3inches, the same as my Mac model, the screen is a very good size that allows for portability and lightness which is so important for a travel laptop. As it’s pretty much all plastic casing, it comes in at just under 1.5kg.
No complaints here as it does exactly what it said it would; fast boot time, easy access to Google add-ons and extensions, useful widgets pre-installed in the toolbar. When you first turn it on, check it finds the correct WiFi as mine appeared to fail its update until I reconnected it. This extended a 15 second process by about ten minutes!
Video playback does also lag even when on a good WiFi connection, which is fine if you’re near a Chromecast but not if you’re on the road. Either way, again, the cost makes this something you’re OK to put up with but if it’s very important to you, maybe rethink.
Against other reviews
I feel like it’s living up to the ‘great value hype’ I read online and am very happy as I knew more or less exactly what I was purchasing; a budget laptop. The one thing I disagree with are the reports that the matt-finish is fingerprint resistant. After light use around the house, there are quite a few fingerprint marks and scuffs; realistically, I don’t think these can be avoided no matter how much care is taken. Saying that, it isn’t a deciding make or break factor, more so an expectation that was set and couldn’t be delivered.
Now that I have it in hand, I’m note sure of it’s durability. It seems sturdy enough but I get the feeling that being in a travel case will test the limits; just as well I have a laptop bag handy to cushion any blows.
This Chromebook gets a jaunty rating of 8/10! I would definitely recommend it for travel and for anyone who needs a decent performing laptop without a huge price tag.