Asus Chromebook C213 is built to stand up to careless kids

What does a primary school student really need from a PC? These days, you can do almost everything in a web browser, and more and more educational institutions are turning to Chromebooks by the day. Asus wants a piece of that pie, and its Chromebook Flip C213 is primed and ready for schoolkids who need a basic portable PC.

Like the original Chromebook Flip that we reviewed in the past, this machine is a convertible. Its 11.6" touchscreen has what Asus calls a 360° hinge, meaning that the display can be folded back against the bottom of the Chromebook and used like a tablet. An optional Wacom EMR stylus is available for institutions that need pen input, and the display can come covered with Gorilla Glass for durability. Asus will also offer a cheaper version of the machine that skips the glass and pen input for a simple anti-glare coating. Both versions are covered in a special scratch-resistant anti-fingerprint material, and include rubber grips to help keep it from slipping out of little fingers.

The Chromebook Flip C213 is powered by an Intel Celeron N3350—although Asus avoids calling it a Celeron by using the chip's Apollo Lake codename. We haven't seen too many machines using Apollo Lake SoCs since their cousins using the same "Goldmont" CPU architecture were unceremoniously killed off by Intel. This particular part uses two of those cores running at 1.1 GHz, with bursts up to 2.4 GHz. Intel specs the N3350 for a 6W TDP, so the C213 probably won't be a speed demon. It should be perfectly fit for purpose as an educational Chromebook, though.

That Celeron SoC's integrated graphics power an 11.6" display with a 1366×768 resolution that Asus specs for 178˚ viewing angles, although the company doesn't specify the underlying panel technology. It gets 4GB of memory and 32GB of eMMC storage, both fairly typical for Chromebooks at this point. More unusually—at least for a Chromebook—the C213 has a fair amount of external connectivity: two USB 3.0 Type-C ports, two USB 3.0 Type-A ports, and a microSD card slot. Students will be able to use an "HD" front webcam for video conferencing, or snap higher-quality photos with a five-megapixel rear camera. Wireless connectivity includes both Bluetooth 4.0 and 2×2 802.11ac Wi-Fi.

That power-sipping Celeron should also help with battery life, an important quality for an on-the-go machine meant for all-day use. Asus says the 46-Whr battery in the Chromebook Flip C213 should last for up to 12 hours of continuous use. The machine's not super light at 2.7 lbs (1.2 kg), but it will probably spend most of its life on a desk anyway. According to Asus, you can pick up a Chromebook Flip C213 for $349 right now, although we couldn't find it at e-tail just yet.

Comments closed
    • Chrispy_
    • 2 years ago

    It’s not childproof unless it can survive immersion in orange juice, multiple drops onto hard floors and being slung into a poorly-padded bag and then used as a soccer goalpost or makeshift seat.

      • shank15217
      • 2 years ago

      Immersion in orange juice? You give you kids a gallon of orange juice at a time?

        • tipoo
        • 2 years ago

        To make them stronk

          • captaintrav
          • 2 years ago

          Stronk like bull smart like truck.

    • mikewinddale
    • 2 years ago

    I’m always worried about these eMMCs. Most of these Chromebooks don’t have an M.2 or a 2.5″ bay, so once the eMMC dies, there’s no way to replace the storage. Once your flash storage reaches its write lifecycle, it doesn’t matter how physically rugged your Chromebook is.

    I tried calling several manufacturers of Chromebooks, and none of them could tell me what the TBW endurance of their eMMCs was. And most of them offer only a 1 year warranty. I asked them how long the Chromebook was designed to last, and most of them couldn’t tell me that anything other than that if the eMMC fails within the 1 year warranty, they’ll replace it, but nothing more than that.

    Compare this statement by Tom’s Hardware (http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/dramless-ssd-roundup,4833.html): “At Computex last June, one SSD vendor told us about an OEM 2D TLC SSD that will burn through the rated endurance in a little over a year. The SSD has to last a year because of the notebook’s one-year warranty, but anything beyond a year’s worth of use is up to the user to fix.” So when the Chromebook manufacturers cannot even quote a TBW at all, and when they appeal to their 1 year warranty, it doesn’t comfort me.

    Does anyone have any data on TBW for the eMMCs in Chromebooks?

      • tipoo
      • 2 years ago

      You can boot from an external USB drive on Chromebooks, many do it anyways for different Linux distros and larger storage, even faster speed than eMMC. If the NAND in the chromebook wore out, that’s one option.

      The other thing is, if you’re doing a lot of local file moving – you probably don’t want a Chromebook. They’re built to get online and do most things through there. Probably not doing near the read/write cycles as an average ‘full’ laptop.

      And the most realistic answer probably is, if your 300 dollar Chromebook dies in two years, most people will just seize the excuse and move on, as they’re not particularly fast at their average selling prices and two years of progress will matter at the bottom end (I often want to scream at my N3160 CB14)

      • dyrdak
      • 2 years ago

      I can only assume that Windows is harsher on storage than Chromebook yet my 8″ Toshiba tablet (z3740, 32GB eMMC and 2GB RAM, uSD card and uHDMI port connected to external monitor) has served primary web browsing system duty for at least 3 years. It’s slow (and WiFi chip sucks) but it keeps ticking (and no disk errors logged so far).

        • Eversor
        • 2 years ago

        It is! I tried one of those and the thing was constantly swapping to the drive – oh the torture!

        eMMC is expensive but from MMC it inherits very little. If one looks at the specification, this becomes obvious in an instant.

        • tipoo
        • 2 years ago

        z3740 and 2GB, that’s slower than my CB14s N3160 and with half the RAM. You must be pretty patient for that to be your primary way on the web! I got my CB14 for travel and it still frustrates me even just for that sometimes, slow loading pages like youtube, 4GB not being a match for my ADD, lol.

      • Eversor
      • 2 years ago

      I have one with 16GB eMMC. What I can tell you is that the implementation of the hardware matters a lot, so if your SSD isn’t doing wear leveling properly, it will be thousands of times less reliable. I won’t go into detail but you probably know why this happens.

      ChromeOS also has some optimizations to reduce wear:

      – Tuned(-ish) file system.
      – A proper eMMC w/ MLC NAND. (little capacity but quality chips)
      – Most of the OS is read-only and when updated it is by image, with only linear writes, completely free of read-modify-write amplification.
      – Usage of on-RAM compressed swap, which is one application that destroys drives without functioning wear leveling.

      If Google was putting the browser caches on RAM also, this would reduce writes to the profile and assets, which is actually very little.
      Windows 10 on eMMC still does swap on disk, so those I wouldn’t touch with a ten foot pole –
      especially if also a 2GB machine. Microsoft is doing RAM compression on 10 but not to completely replace swap, at this time.

      As is, just now, gone are 9 days and I’ve written 40GiB to disk. This is 1.622TiB in a year.

      Some math, assuming proper wear leveling and no compression of writes:
      – 16GB TLC w/ 500 cycles -> 8TB endurance -> ~4.5 years of expected life.
      – 16GB MLC w/ 3k cycles -> 48TB endurance -> ~29 years.

      IIRC most TLC is 1.5-2k cycles and few MLC was 3k, most was 5k-10k. Samsung 3D TLC is 20k cycles. This eMMC I think is 10k cycles, so that would be 87 years!

      A lot of stuff has been replaced on the device, namely the micro USB port used for charging, but eMMC is still without fail. On PCs one needs to look for 3 or 5 years warranty on parts prone to wear: HDDs, SSDs and PSUs. Otherwise, the OEM won’t receive significant amounts of RMAs and will keep doing what is described in your post.

        • tipoo
        • 2 years ago

        I forgot to mention that, yeah them switching ZRAM on by default is big for endurance. Some of your RAM gets set aside for a compressed state, and it uses that as a swap rather than an actual on disk swap. Trade CPU cycles for swap speed and NAND endurance.

      • Eversor
      • 2 years ago

      Oh, completely missed the last point… They don’t quote it but maybe you can find out which chip it is from a tear down. Usually, it’s from a big enough brand name that you can find the datasheet with the cycle count and calculate the TBW spec after.

    • Captain Ned
    • 2 years ago

    And how is the power socket armored? It’s the one place most likely to fail on any portable platform.

      • RAGEPRO
      • 2 years ago

      It charges via USB-C actually. I have no idea how durable that is. Haha.

        • derFunkenstein
        • 2 years ago

        It all comes down to how the port is constructed. I have two good examples in my phone collection:

        Samsung did something cool with the Galaxy S7 where the micro-USB port is somehow connected to the rest of the body, which makes it much more sturdy than regular micro-USB ports.

        Perhaps more relevant to USB Type-C, Motorola did something similar with the Moto Z Play Droid where the innards seem very much connected to the, uh…outards? Not sure the word there. But it’s a very secure port and seems like it’s hard to break.

        Not that I’ve tried…

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