The original vision for Chromebooks was one of laptops that required the bare minimum of specs thanks to Google’s Chrome OS and its reliance on cloud computing, with a price point that matched. Google itself made the rare exception of trying to go completely upscale with its premium Pixel Chromebook, but while there’s been some “feature creep” over the years (Chromebooks featuring beefier Intel processors, more RAM, higher-res screens, etc.), a new version from Asus appears to combine better components and still keep to a fairly strict budget in a way that hasn’t been attempted before.
With the forthcoming C301SA Chromebook, Asus is basically doubling the memory and storage of typical Chromebooks, and adding a full HD screen, at a price point barely higher than competing models. Most garden-variety Chromebooks ship with 2GB of RAM and either 16GB or 32GB of built-in solid-state storage, and sport a standard-definition display (often 1,366×768). The C301SA, however, will feature 4 gigs of RAM, a whopping (for Chromebooks, at least) 64GB of built-in storage, and a 1,920×1,080 13.3-inch screen.
That compares favorably with Acer’s $300 Chromebook 14, which comes with the same amount of memory and a slightly bigger screen with the same resolution, but only half the storage and a slightly less powerful Intel Celeron processor (N3060 versus the C301SA’s N3160). To get the same amount of built-in storage as the forthcoming Asus Chromebook, you’d have to grab the latest Google Pixel at a hefty $1,299 price tag (albeit with an Intel Core i7 CPU, 16GB of RAM and 2,560×1,700 screen).
In comparison, Asus is planning to sell the C301SA for just $299, the same price that many Chromebooks (and Windows 10 laptops) sell for with lesser specs. That makes it an incredibly appealing choice, especially as Google is trying to increase Chromebooks’ appeal by allowing them to run Android apps. The new model is available for pre-order at B&H Photo’s website, though you’ll have to wait another month for it to ship.