The next generation of computers will arrive with a next generation port for high-speed data transfers and charging on the one connection, but what if you want a computer now ahead of the future: can you find the Type C port in something without busting the bank?
Intel’s sixth-generation Core processors may be just around the corner for new computers, but that doesn’t mean every machine will be getting one. To prove that, Asus has launched a new budget machine boasting something that isn’t a Core and isn’t even an Atom, with the Celeron making an appearance.
You’ll find that in the Asus Transformer Book Flip TP200, an 11.6 inch notebook boasting that Intel dual-core N3050 Celeron processor, sitting alongside 2GB RAM and 32GB storage, with Microsoft’s Windows 10 loaded on the computer out of the box and ready to go.
If 32GB isn’t enough storage for you, as a bit of a bonus, Asus has included a 32GB microSD card in the box to add more storage on top of the 32GB you find inside the computer via the included microSD slot.
Connections to the computer are fairly varied, with a few more than you might expect from a small computer, providing wireless support over 802.11ac (and 802.11a/b/g/n because of backwards compatibility), with Bluetooth 4.1 also supported, while physical connections are catered for with one USB 2.0, one USB 3.0, one USB 3.1 Type C, a microHDMI port, and a 3.5mm headset port.
Asus also equips the TP200 with a proprietary charge port that appears to resemble microUSB, but isn’t and is instead reversible.
The computer also features an aforementioned 11.6 inch display, with this running the high definition resolution of 1366×768, with the technology for the screen being In-Plane Switching (IPS). Support for touch is included here, too, with multi-touch support built into the display.
A small camera can be found above the screen, providing VGA camera support.
The latest stab by Asus at the entry level world is an entry in its long running Transformer series, as we see the Transformer Book Flip try the computer world one more time (this time with feeling).
Earlier in the year, we checked out a computer in this series, and while we used a lot of words to review it, “underwhelming” would be the one word review we’d go with, giving the TP500L 2.5 stars for its mediocre design, heavy weight, low-end screen, and a general feeling that it was severely overpriced.
Almost a year later, here we are with another model, dropping down in size and specs as Asus remakes the Transformer Book Flip series for a different price point.
Take the Transformer Book Flip TP200 out for a spin and you’ll find Asus is keeping aspects of its older Transformer Book Flip here, with a brushed steel lid across a plastic body.
In a way, the Asus TP200 can be a little deceiving, offering a solid looking top, but then letting the look go with the feel, which is all plastic once you go past this, except for the glass covering the display.
That said, in the hands the 1.2 kilogram weight isn’t too horrible, even if the plastic build quality isn’t great. If you’re used to two and three kilogram laptops, the 1.2kg weight isn’t hard to get used to, and while the hinge technically allows the device to work as a tablet, a 1.2 kilogram tablet is a little strange.
Set the screen up in a perpendicular position, however, and you’ll find the Asus TP200 works just as well as a laptop, if not better.
In fact, Asus has also made some improvements to its formula of building a budget PC, and we’re delighted to see that an improved look as to what constitutes a display has been considered.
While the high definition resolution of 1366×768 is nothing to really cheer for — hey, you can find Full HD panels on computers this size, so it’s not a huge thing — it’s good to see that Asus has moved on from its low-grade Twisted Nematic screens, switching it out for one of the superior In-Plane Switching panels, offering decent viewing angles, a fair amount of brightness, and the knowledge that you won’t have to twist or crane your neck to find the right viewing angle.
In others words: freakin’ finally, an Asus laptop display that won’t make you want to throw the computer out a bleedin’ window.
We may have over-dramatised that last statement, but we’ve never been fond of the low-grade screens Asus has used, so we are thrilled to see the company learning from its mistakes, offering a decent little touchscreen in the Flip TP200.
Granted, the 11.6 inch screen found on this computer is very glossy and offers a fair amount of glare, so make sure to use it in a room with the blinds drawn or you sitting in front, otherwise good luck seeing a thing.
At least you can see the screen, though, so that’s something to be happy about.
Even the keyboard feels like a step above where Asus has previously been in its budget computers, with an island-key keyboard found on the Transformer Book TP200 that is a little soft to the touch, but should be more than adequate for most office and school work, the latter of which feels like where the TP200 is being pitched at.
The trackpad also isn’t bad, with a wide surface area a little bigger than the space bar and a button lurking underneath.
Combine this with the 11.6 inch touchscreen and you have two ways of getting around on the Flip, and the trackpad even couples in gesture support that is as responsive as the touchscreen, making it super handy.
Storage also isn’t terrible, though could be better. You’ll find the 32GB of storage is cut down to just under 14GB by the time you get the Asus Transformer Book Flip out of the box, which isn’t fantastic, though Asus does at least try to account for this piddling storage supply by including a 32GB microSD card in the box.
Pop that into the microSD card slot on the left side of the computer and you’ll have 32GB more storage to work with, which is an inclusion so few companies would have. Trust us on this one, as it’s the first time we’ve seen a computer pack in a card free. Normally, you’d have to spend a good $30 or $40 for this yourself.
Another freebie is what leads us to thinking this is made for students, and that’s the one year obligatory Microsoft Office 365 subscription. Again, you don’t get this with every Windows 10 computer, and it generally only pops up when the computer is targeting kids and students, which is what the TP200 feels aimed at.
Even the battery life is capable, offering a good eight to nine hours of life if you’re good to the performance.
That means you’ll find decent battery life if you don’t flog the system, providing all-day work life for students and workers keen on surfing the web, writing documents, and generally not doing too much more.
Where the TP200 goes wrong, however, is in its processor and speed, or lack thereof, with Asus equipping the computer with one of the more mediocre mobile chips you could imagine.
Forget the Intel Atoms we’ve liked so much in the past because they’re not present in this machine. Instead, you’ll find a lowly Intel Celeron, one of the chips that has been put on so much of a diet that it’s hard not to see the fallout in the sluggish performance.
In the beginning, it’s not all bad, with a fairly quick cold to on state, providing what feels like a snappy computer, that is until you log in.
Once you’ve done that, though, you’ll find the computer begins to slow down, as Windows 10 appears to struggle with the fairly low-end Celeron processor, with 2GB RAM along for the side barely helping things along.
As such, we found opening apps like Evernote would cause the machine to sit there for a few seconds as the TP200 struggled to get them open, and then be fine as they ran.
That sort of performance remained consistent regardless of the app we decided to run.
Take File Explorer, the built in file browser found on Windows. We were editing an article when we wanted to see the hard drive, so we pressed the shortcut in the Windows toolbar. Two seconds later, it popped up.
Internet Explorer loaded far more quickly, after this, but the lag between apps was something we picked up on more often than not.
At the heart of this appears to be the Celeron processor, which is low-end enough that it sits below the Intel Atom budget computers are normally equipped with, telling us how Asus reached this budget price point. You may even see the lag as you type, as words sometimes struggle to match your fingers as you type them on the screen.
It’s not always a problem, mind you, and performance can be okay, but we’d stick to basic apps on the TP200, as it just can’t handle much more.
There’s one other catch, and that’s the Type C USB port.
Don’t get us wrong, we’re delighted to see its inclusion in a computer that does cost close to $2K, and with a street price closer to the $500 mark, Asus definitely is going after a different market with this laptop, but it’s not the same use of the Type C port we were hoping for.
While devices are beginning to feature the Type C port as a charging mechanism, here in the Asus TP200, that’s not what you’ll find it for. Rather, it’s just another USB port, and we don’t have any Type C devices to test it with, as there aren’t many of these in the country yet.
What does this mean?
Well, it at least says the TP200 has a degree more future proofing than 99 percent of other laptops out there, offering faster data transfer speeds for USB Type C equipped hard drives and flash drives when they eventually hit Australian shores, but as for charging, that’s not part and parcel of what this is for.
Instead, you’ll find something that appears to be like USB Type C, and is even reversible in much the same way, yet still isn’t. It’s not even microUSB, so make sure not to lose the charger, because this is different again.
October isn’t normally the time for a student laptop — unless you live in the Northern Hemisphere, that is — because down under where this review is published (and where most of GadgetGuy’s readers are located), school is wrapping up.
But just in time for the wrap up, Asus has brought out this little lappy, the Transformer Book Flip TP200.
Ahead of next year’s school year, we can see why this machine would be suitable, offering both a small laptop and a tablet together with a screen that won’t make people angry, and even offering a bit of future proofing that budget devices aren’t normally invited to partake in.
It’s not perfect at all, mind you, and if you plan to do more than basic office or productivity work on this, you’ll be reaching, as the chip inside just doesn’t have enough headroom to deal with much more.
But if this doesn’t bother you and you’ve started shopping for a machine capable of handling school work, this is certainly a machine worth taking a look at.