Asus Chromebook CX1101 Review

Covering the basics

₹ 19,999

In this work-from-anywhere era, Chromebooks are fast making a name for themselves as portable workhorses. They are an ideal option for anyone looking for lightweight computing on the go, and that too without spending a bomb. 

Enter Asus’ Chromebook CX1101, which caters to the above requirements, and yet costs as much as a mid-range Android smartphone. Having spent a few weeks using the laptop everywhere possible from our desk to the dining table and even while sitting on the pot, here’s our review.

Design: Deceptively sturdy

Asus isn’t trying to hide the fact that this is an affordable laptop, and you’ll find more plastic in use here than the Great Pacific garbage patch. The lid gets a glossy finish, which adds a pinch of premium-ness to the otherwise mundane design. 

Having said that, the Chromebook is surprisingly well built, and feels sturdy. Asus says that they have used military-grade materials to build the laptop, and say that it is built to survive shocks, drops and vibrations. Short of throwing it down the stairs, there’s no real way to test these claims, but as we said, the build quality feels really good.

Just like the Chromebook C523 we reviewed last year, this new Chromebook too can lay flat on a surface. The hinge feels strong and the 180-degree motion is smooth. It however feels like Asus missed a trick here. They could have added a few more degrees of flex to the hinge letting users flip the display to the other side and watch OTT content without a keyboard and trackpad in their line of sight.

Display: Bezels from the 90s

The first thing you notice before your eyes get to the 11.6in screen are the black bezels. We can’t help being reminded of the days of yore when bezels as thick as these used to be the norm on laptops. 

The display itself isn’t too contemporary either, and the HD resolution feels inadequate. The 11.6in size isn’t a problem, and is in fact perfect for when you’re on the move and don’t have a lot of space to work in. The display is fine as long as you’re indoors and spending most of the time typing on blank documents (as we’re right now) or making presentations. But the overall quality could have been better with higher levels of brightness, better colours, and wider viewing angles.

There’s an HD-resolution webcam embedded in the top bezel, which is strictly average. During the day, your office colleagues or school teacher will be able to see you clearly enough. But that won’t be the case in the evenings, as the camera struggles in low light.

Performance: Productivity on the go

Under the hood is an Intel Celeron N4020 processor paired with Intel’s HD Graphics 600, and 4GB of RAM. You’d think that this combination doesn’t quite scream speed, and you’re not wrong. But then you shouldn’t forget that this laptop doesn’t run resource-hogging Windows OS, but a lightweight Chrome OS, and that makes all the difference. Even the RAM-killing Chrome browser works like a charm on this lightweight OS. 

The laptop’s internals are able to easily handle Google’s suite of apps that you would require for office work or online studies. You can also take breaks in between and watch YouTube videos with ease. But don’t expect to have a great experience when trying to play games (even casual ones) or binging on Netflix shows. The moment you try to push the laptop even a bit, its inadequacies start to show.

Asus’ Chromebooks have been getting better, and this evolution is quite clear when it comes to the keyboard and trackpad. The keys are decently spaced out, and the 1.5mm travel makes for a comfortable typing experience. The trackpad isn’t the biggest, but just about the right size for daily use. Scrolling is smooth, and so are the multi-finger gestures. 

The built-in battery is good enough to last an entire working day on a single charge. Our usage involved using Google’s suite of apps for office work, and watching videos on YouTube during breaks. Charging is quite quick too, and you fully juice up the Chromebook’s battery in about an hour.

Verdict: Should you buy it?

There’s a lot to like about the barebones experience of this Asus Chromebook CX1101 and Google’s ChromeOS in general. If you’re looking for a laptop for your kid’s online studies or an easy-to-use device for a senior member of your family, this Chromebook ticks a lot of the right boxes. For a “laptop” under ₹20,000, it does a lot of the basic stuff right, just don’t expect it to do a lot beyond that.

Stuff Says

Is a lot like an affordable Android phone, and costs like one too.
Good stuff
Bad stuff
  1. Light on the pockets

  1. Plastic, but sturdy build

  1. Basics tasks handled well

  1. Decent battery life

  1. Underwhelming display

  1. Struggles with anything beyond basic tasks

Display: 11.6in HD LCD
Processor: Intel Celeron N4020 dual-core
GPU: Intel HD Graphics 600
Memory: 4GB / 64GB
OS: Chrome OS
Weight: 1.24kg
Dimensions: 291.6 x 200.9 x 19.5mm