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[Review] A Complete Package for Distance Learning: The ASUS BR1100 Convertible Laptop



Unlike the other gaming or productivity laptops we've reviewed so far, the ASUS BR1100 caters to a rather different audience - children.

As such, its features and design is specially tailored to suit a younger audience, who are now forced to adapt to the new norm of distance learning. Its strong suit is not raw power, but rather durability and versatility to enable worry-free learning from home.


Built to withstand children

As we all know, children are tiny whirlwinds of mass destruction, due to their yet-to-be fully developed sense of coordination and focus. Thus, the BR1100 is built with rough use in mind, with a chunky MIL-STD-810G certified frame unlike most 'adult' laptops you'd come across in day-to-day use.

The edges are lined with grippy rubber and the rest of the exterior surface is covered with a pockmarked texture that helps clumsy little hands keep hold of it. On the bottom are thick rubber feet which prevent it from sliding on surfaces, as well as provide more grip when carrying it about.

On top of that, it also features a spill-proof keyboard that can take up to 300ml of waterboarding, as well as reinforced corners, I/O ports, and hinges. The latter is especially sturdy - despite its smooth operation, you can feel a good amount of resistance to ensure the lid stays put at whichever angle it's set at.


Versatile touch display

The display features an extremely thick bezel that hearkens back to the olden days. It's quite a sight to see now that we're so spoiled with 'ultra-slim bezel-less infinity wide view whatever' displays.

However, I do think it makes sense as this laptop features 360° hinges, which means it can be used in tablet form, among other positions. This means that grubby little hands will be touching the display a lot while carrying it around, so the thick bezels also help prevent unwanted movements on the edges of the touch display - yes, it features a touch display AND has a garaged stylus pen to boot.

The 'garage' (also known as where you park the stylus - yes, like a car garage) helps prevent students from misplacing the stylus when not in use, as well as serve as its charging dock. According to ASUS, a 15-second stay can juice it up enough for 45 minutes of use, so no more excuses from your kids that their stylus is 'out of battery' so they can't do their homework :)

Anyway, back to the display itself. It features an extremely modest HD (1366 x 768) resolution, which isn't all too common nowadays (even phones have above FHD now!) However, colours are decent and the viewing angles aren't too bad, so it's more than sufficient for school use.

As for the performance of the touch display, there are some occasional delays when using the pen - it tended to skip a little while drawing, especially. But it wasn't bad enough to turn me off completely - it still served its purpose well and is a sweet bonus for an educational device.


Ready for virtual classroom learning

Another bonus are not one but TWO cameras built into this device. The first is traditionally located on the top bezel for video calls, and features a physical shutter to prevent pervs from spying on your children. The other camera is located on the keyboard deck, pointing skywards. Before you wonder why ASUS wants your children to broadcast their nostrils for the world to see, this camera is actually to be pointed outwards while using the laptop in tablet or tented mode.

The camera quality isn't stellar, but rest assured, your child's classmates will definitely still be able to recognise them in online classes.

As for audio, it's also alright - nothing to shout about, but it's definitely clear enough to watch YouTube - er, I mean educational - videos. The mic is also a solid 'average' - it's clear enough to discern speech, but nothing exceptional.

In any case, it's great that the laptop comes ready with all the features needed for a virtual learning environment - you won't need to get an external webcam or mic, which might incur extra cost (and are extra pieces of equipment that your kids might lose or accidentally break).


Utilitarian keyboard and trackpad

The keyboard is surprisingly nice to type on. Due to the size of the chassis, the keys are slightly narrower than a full-sized keyboard, but the travel distance and tactility are very pleasant to the touch. There are also dedicated mute and print screen keys, which would come in handy in a classroom setting.

Unfortunately, the keyboard isn't back-lit, but you'd want your children to work in well-lit environments anyway so they don't wreck their eyes at a young age. In any case, it would serve as good touch typing training, should they want to sneak the laptop under the covers for clandestine calls with their classmates.

The trackpad is of average size, and of average performance. It certainly isn't as smooth as the glass surfaces of flagship laptop touchpads, but it definitely does the job well enough.


Well-rounded I/O

As for I/O, it's generous considering the size of laptop. On the left, you'll find the charging port, one USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-C port with PD support (yes!), one USB-A port, and a HDMI 1.4 port. There's also a Kensington lock in case you want to keep it chained to the desk for whatever purpose.

On the right, you'll find another USB-A port, a headphone jack, a LAN port, as well as the power and volume buttons. If you're wondering why they're on the side instead of on the keyboard deck, this is pretty typical for devices that can be used in tablet mode as well, so the buttons remain accessible at all times.

You'll also noticed one blocked off port on this side - this is where the MicroSD card reader would go in units from other regions.


Great for the basics, with long-lasting battery life

In terms of performance, don't expect a powerhouse - after all, it's 'for studying, not gaming', right?

*cough * Yes Altitude *cough*

Powering this laptop up is an Intel Celeron N4500 processor, along with 4GB of DDR4-2400 RAM and 128GB of eMMC storage. Not necessarily the most impressive specs, but definitely enough for a young child's typical usage scenario, bar gaming.

I got up to 14 Microsoft Edge tabs before lagging, which is decent considering the modest hardware inside. Program start-up is slow as expected - for people like us who might have been spoiled by lightning-fast SSDs, at least. For the average child, I don't think they'd notice or mind at all.

In any case, there is room to install your own SSD inside, so you can easily give it a speed boost if desired.

The body of the laptop does get a little warm, which is normal seeing as there is no external ventilation as far as I can see. This can be a good thing, as it means there are fewer holes for your kids to accidentally spill stuff into (and you know they will). The modest capabilities also mean that there is little possibility for it to heat up to hazardous temperatures.

As for battery life, the 42W battery may seem meagre on paper, but considering that it is only powering a Celeron N4500 processor and a HD screen, it's plenty - enough to last for a full day's worth of classes for sure.

In any case, you can always monitor the battery of the laptop via the LED indicator located on the lid. This is handy for you to check the laptops's status at a glance - if the light is steady, it means there are no issues; if it is blinking slowly it means that power has dropped to below 20%, and if it is blinking rapidly, it means that it has lost connection to the internet.


Buy or no buy?

While no adult would seriously consider buying this for themselves, the ASUS BR1100 is definitely an excellent choice for children. With a relatively affordable price tag of RM1,599, you'll get great battery life, a touchscreen and stylus, built-in webcams, a MIL-STD-810G certified chassis, as well as a healthy selection of ports.

Basically, all your child needs for online learning has been neatly packaged into a sturdy and durable chassis that they can both use at home and bring to school (should the pandemic die down any time soon).

For more information, you can check out the official product page here.




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