Since reporting last month that the ASUS C301SA was ‘coming soon,’ the device has now become official and ready for pre-orders. Sporting an aluminum build, a 1.6 GHz Intel Celeron N3160 Quad-Core processor, 1080p screen, and 4GB of RAM, this device would be pretty compelling at the $299 asking price.
However, this guy has another very interesting trick up its sleeve.
64GB of eMMC storage. In the base model. No upgraded price required.
For the uninitiated, this is a big move by ASUS. Base model Chromebooks tend to come with a middling 16GB of internal storage and, while you could make an argument for Chrome OS not needing too much more than that in a base model, the inclusion of Android apps via the Google Play Store in the fall makes that 16GB seem a bit ridiculous.
As we’ve been discussing and experiencing over the past few weeks, Android apps on Chromebooks are going to change the Chrome OS experience in a significant way. More apps, more downloads, more productivity, more devices, more OEMs and more locally-stored content all point to the need for greater storage space.
While some may argue that Android apps could gain room via Android’s adopted storage, there is no firm evidence that this is going to happen with Chrome OS at any point. Such speculation isn’t helpful in the near term.
What is helpful, however, is OEMs deciding that they need to up the base storage in their devices to become more attractive in this soon-to-change Chromebook market.
And, let’s be honest. The storage included in our devices is grossly overpriced. See this article from 3 years ago about the disparity in storage prices. Sadly not much has changed since that article was written. Silly, small and ridiculous storage amounts on base model devices (not just Chromebooks, but smartphones and tablets as well) give OEMs the ability to charge higher prices for ‘premium’ features such as larger SSDs and more RAM.
In either case, the upgraded prices is not reflective of the actual upgrade. Again, reference the article linked above and consider the amounts OEMs are charging for these upgrades. It’s almost robbery.
Enter ASUS with the C301SA. This device retains a very low, very realistic Chromebook price while giving the user a base model with 64GB of storage. No 16GB or 32GB models. Just 64GB.
There, now: that wasn’t so hard, was it?
What ASUS has done here is shift a paradigm. Assuming the sales of this device are good (highly likely at this price point), consumers will finally begin seeing that the real cost in upgrading from 16GB to 64GB (almost negligible on the manufacturing side) is quite small and hopefully begin to demand better from manufacturers. Hopefully, this will begin a trend that will cause us all to look back at times prior to fall 2016 and wonder, ‘Why in the heck were we paying so much for a reasonable amount of storage?’ Surely, this is the beginning of the end of anemic storage amounts on Chromebooks.
Look, I’m not against premium pieces making up premium prices. Devices like the Pixel demand a higher price tag because the componenets are not cheap. The screen, body, keyboard, trackpad, speakers, processor and battery all cost good money. We all know and accept that. But we as consumers also know that memory has become quite cheap, especially in the amounts we use on Chromebooks. While Windows machines and Mabooks are seeing 256GB and 512GB SSDs as fairly standard, I don’t think it’s too much for us to expect 64GB of storage as a base model expectation.
And I think that ASUS may begin the shift in those expectations with this device.