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Great Chromebook, but not so great for watching videos...
on July 20, 2015
My old Chromebook was the very first HP 11" Chromebook, so I'll be comparing this one to that. There are pros and cons to both, obviously, but ultimately I would rather stick with this Asus model than go back to HP due to all the issues I had with my HP, as I will explain below.
SPEED(5/5): The C201 is fast! Don't be fooled by the seemingly low processor speed of 1.8GHz; because this is a quad core processor it is able to outperform 2.2GHz dual core machines. Boot time is about half that of my HP11, and scrolling through several tabs appears to be instantaneous on this machine whereas there would be a white screen for a few milliseconds switching tabs on the HP. The 4GB of RAM on the C201 helps with this heavy multitasking immensely. If you like to have 20+ tabs open simultaneously for research like I do, it's worth the investment to get the 4GB model rather than the 2GB. 2GB of RAM would be fine if you only do light multitasking, though.
DURABILITY(5/5): Despite being very lightweight, the C201 feels very sturdy and has survived a few drops without any damage whatsoever. The HP11 has a pretty similar feel, but the top half feels a bit flimsier. A few drops of the HP11 lead to stability issues, especially with the Wifi.
CONNECTIVITY(5/5): Both Chromebooks have two USB ports and a headset jack, along with identical Wifi adapter specs. However, in addition to this the C201 also has a microHDMI port and a microSD reader, which are nice to have and work flawlessly. The Wifi chip in the C201 is also far superior to the one in the HP11, despite having the same specs. The C201 is great at competing for a signal in crowded places where many people are using public Wifi, and always gets a strong and consistent signal. The HP11, however, when used in the same kind of environment would often have a slow connection or even drop the connection repeatedly. Also, after being dropped a few times the HP11 would often randomly disable the Wifi, needing a restart. My C201 has been dropped several times and still has no issues.
PORTABILITY(5/5): The C201 is slightly lighter and has a slightly smaller form factor than the HP11, so it wins in this category. However, the difference is not something you would notice without comparing them side by side.
AESTHETICS(2/5): Okay, this is just opinion, but I definitely prefer the HP11 for appearance. It stands out from other devices and really makes a statement that says "I am not a typical laptop or MacBook; I'm a Chromebook!". The C201, however, just looks like some cheap barebones laptop. Very blah. 2 stars for not actually being ugly, despite being generic.
AUDIO(1/5): Ehh...Well, the quality of the speakers on the C201 is alright, but the placement is just idiotic. The speakers are on the bottom of the unit; you know, the part that's usually up against a table or your lap? So it's always muffled, unless you want to hold it up off the surface...but even then, the sound is being directed away from you. On top of that, the speakers are pretty quiet. I find I need the volume at max even when I'm alone in a quiet room. Headphones are a must. The HP11 is much much louder and has the speakers built into the keyboard, so the sound is delivered very effectively. I used to use my HP11 with the volume at around 20% most of the time, or lower if I was in a quiet room.
VIDEO(2/5): The C201 looks great for web browsing; very bright and crisp. But for watching videos, especially very dark videos, the effective viewing angle is very narrow. That is, if the screen is too high or too low relative to your face you either won't see much or will be seeing distorted colours. At the higher brightness settings, I found it hard to find a viewing angle that didn't give everything a bit of a blue hue. My HP11 never had such a problem; it looked great from any angle and always showed the correct colours at any brightness. Unfortunately an impact to the back of my HP11 cause a large red smudge to appear on the screen when it was turned on, and I was never able to remove it...
POWER(5/5): The C201 charges very quickly and a single charge lasts me all day even if I have the brightness at max and am streaming videos. The HP11 was only able to last all day if I reduced the brightness to 50% or less. It was also very slow to charge and after a few drops it sometimes wouldn't charge at all or appeared to disconnect and reconnect repeatedly with the charger. So far there haven't been any such consequences to dropping my C201...
KEYBOARD(3/5): I find that the keys on the C201 make more noise and put up more resistance than the keys on my HP11. Also, since the keys are black with white letters, rather than white with black letters as on the HP11, it is very difficult to see the keys in the dark, and the screen does not illuminate them well. This is not a problem for me since I touch-type, but for others it could be a nuisance. That said, the C201 keyboard still provides a smooth and quiet typing experience. Very comfortable, though not as good as the HP11.
TL;DR: This Chromebook fulfills the role of a Chromebook pretty well. It is fantastic for multitasking and can handle a very heavy processing load. However, the issues with the screen and speakers make it less than ideal for watching videos. If watching videos is your main priority, get something else. But if you're using this for work, school, or just web browsing and videos are an afterthought, it's an awesome machine. I like it overall, and the low price mostly compensates for its downfalls. I do miss the way my HP11 handled multimedia, but that thing had way too many physical issues. The 201 thus far seems to be far more reliable.