I remember a time when reviewing Chromebooks meant getting my hands on a few devices every few months. It meant hanging high hopes on just a few pieces of hardware and ultimately always wishing the available selections were a bit broader, competition was a little stiffer, and that the choices for consumers would be far more expansive. And for the most part, my wishes were granted.
While the Chromebook market still has a lot of growing to do, we have more selection and options than ever before. There are devices showing up left and right, and as a person trying to make sense of all of it, it can get difficult from time to time to see devices for all they are in the moment. When the promise of the “next big thing” is always just around the corner, it can be all too simple to miss really great hardware right in front of your face.
A real gem that I discounted too quickly
That’s the story of me and the revamped ASUS Chromebook Flip CM3. When we got the original version in the office, I was underwhelmed and a bit put off by the pricing. There were too many other devices that were faster and better bargains and the fact that it was still saddled with the aging MediaTek Kompanio 500 (MT8183) meant that the performance was just not great. There were things I liked and things I didn’t, but this device quickly became one that I didn’t even consider recommending to anyone.
And then ASUS updated it with the Kompanio 828, and we eventually had one sent over. For whatever reason, the timing wasn’t right and I never even gave the device a proper shot. Sure, it was still a bit overpriced, but I’m not going to sit here and tell you that’s why I dismissed it. I was just so unimpressed by the original version that I’d lost all interest in it and never truly gave it another look.
A great deal, and a renewed interest
But then last week as Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals were all over the place, my searching for every and any great Chromebook discount led me to ASUS’ website and the long-forgotten CM3. It was marked down (and still is) to just $229, and even if that would have been for the slower Kompanio 500, that would have been a nice price. But this discount is for the newer version with the very capable Kompanio 828 I doted on so much in my Acer Chromebook 514 review, so I went into our storage room, found it, and got it updated and ready to use.
And I was a bit perplexed. This little Chromebook is quietly great, so why did I dismiss it so quickly? Sure, the size makes for a slightly cramped keyboard and the screen only hits 250 nits, but the performance is really good with the Kompanio 828 and sub-1080p display to push. With a resolution of 1366×912, the 12-inch 3:2 IPS screen is actually quite good, plenty sharp at this size, and it feels pretty awesome in tablet mode as well. It’s light, has multi-day battery potential, and the trackpad is seated well and is smooth as silk.
That day, I ended up using it for a few hours and have started taking it home with me here and there, and it is a fantastic, small, portable companion device. Just like the Lenovo Duet 3, I wouldn’t want to work on it all day, every day, but devices like this have their place. They are amazing for around the house or on the go tasks, and I’m really happy to say that I misjudged the Flip CM3. If you are looking for a tablet-like device that is fun to use, easy to tote around, and is quite fast, this may be the one for you. And at $229 (AUE of August 2031), you simply can’t go wrong with this one.