Chromebook Plus Review: ASUS Chromebook Plus CX34

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Erin Lawrence

Google Chromebook plus Asus cx34 review Most of us have wondered if our laptops could be more helpful, and anyone who’s tried Artificial Intelligence tools like Chat GPT knows they can be clunky to access. What if you could skip going to third-party websites and still get all of that AI juice right at your fingertips, right where you’re working? Writing help inside your Doc. Photoshopping smarts right on screen? Or an assistant that can generate a spreadsheet, list or roundup of research without you ever needing to hunt the web. That’s the premise of Google’s new lineup of Chromebooks that have a whole host of helpful features built-in: Meet the new Chromebook Plus laptops, like the ASUS Chromebook Plus CX34 I reviewed.

ASUS Chromebook Plus CX34
4.5

Summary

There’s been a lot of significant changes now that we have Chromebook Plus. I think Google has been listening to consumer complaints about these devices and is doing its absolute best to address those while still keeping the laptop simple, uncomplicated and affordable.

Pros

  • Nice design
  • Faster than regular Chromebook
  • Chromebook Plus models offer more power, speed
  • Adobe AI is outstanding
  • More options for video editing
  • Infinitely customizable
  • Incredible new AI features are still coming
  • Fast boot up
  • Super affordable

Cons

  • Not for large files or storage
  • Keyboard and trackpad not my fave
  • Need to be online for best experience

If you’ve shopped for a laptop recently you know one of the biggest pet peeves already; salespeople trying to dazzle you with complex specs, speed, RAM, resolution.. plus IPS, chips and all you want is to really understand what you can do. That’s why I think Google is speaking my language with the launch of their brand new Chromebook Plus laptops. The new Plus lineup is designed to be much more user-friendly, but with twice the processing power, twice the speed, double the memory, and twice the resolution for a clearer screen over older Chromebooks.

Plus this new lineup of devices makes a major leap forward in terms of smarts too. Let’s dive right into what these Chromebook Plus laptops can do—and the key feature to note here is built-in AI smarts.

Watch my hands-on review of Chromebook Plus

What is a Chromebook & how does it compare to Chromebook Plus?

More than ten years ago, Google created Chromebooks create a more democratic class of laptops that were still fast and secure, while still being very affordable. In a nutshell a Chromebook has been a way to get a cheap laptop that can manage simply the basic tasks many of us do you like email, and online surfing. They have tended to have slower processors, less memory, and less local storage than other laptops, so much of what they do is online-based by design.

What makes a Chromebook a Chromebook Plus?

The new Chromebook Plus takes the low cost idea, and turns it on its head, since it offers way more in terms of specs and speed, and keeps the price extremely low.

Now with double the performance, best-in-price screens and cameras, as well as the standard built-in Google apps plus all new and powerful AI capabilities, Chromebook Plus is a new take on hardware performance with powerful software apps and tools. All at a rather startling starting price of $399US.

Hands-on review: ASUS Chromebook Plus CX34

Google Chromebook plus Asus cx34 reviewGoogle and ASUS recently provided me with a sample Chromebook Plus to try out at home; the ASUS Chromebook Plus CX34.

I’ll touch super briefly on what this laptop in particular offers; and then I’m going to get right to the game changing Chromebook Plus features that were just announced.

This is designed to be a compact, lightweight laptop. It’s got a 14-inch screen with a generous 5.7-inch touchpad. And making sure you can keep up with what’s online, this laptop boasts faster WiFi 6. I chose the nice white colour to be a bit different, and because of its 180° lay-flat hinge for sharing and collaboration. The ASUS Chromebook Plus has a 10-hour max battery life.

Google Chromebook plus Asus cx34 review

Ports & connections in Chromebook Plus by Asus.

While the design is nice, and there’s a backlit keyboard, I found it hard to distinguish in ambient light. The trackpad also feels clunky and requires a heavy press to activate any clicks.
The laptop seems quick enough as an email and web surfing machine, but when it comes to using some of the more powerful tools, the speed improvements may be harder to notice.

Special Chromebook Plus features

The access to AI features are what’s supposed to sell this laptop. There’s not so much one single AI assistant, but a host of features and tasks that can access AI through on the device, and more seamlessly than going to Chat GPT, or an AI photo generator.

Adobe Express on-device

Google also promises free AI-powered ChromeOS features for Chromebook Plus will be available later this year, like an AI writing assistant for everything from emails to YouTube video descriptions.
Soon, Google will introduce the ability to create AI-generated wallpapers based on a prompt. Want cats in the style of van Gough? Done.

Google Chromebook plus Asus cx34 review

AI generated wallpapers.

Over the coming months, Chromebook Plus will also get free AI powered OS features like a personal writing assistant accessible across surfaces via a right click, custom generated wallpapers or video conferencing backgrounds using easy templatized text prompts, reading assistant, and more.

Offline File Sync

One of the complaints about the Chromebook experience has been that you don’t have access to files if you’re not online. Google addresses this to some extent with a feature called offline file sync. When you’re setting up your Chromebook, or after the fact, you can choose which files to keep locally on your device so they are always accessible to you. Even without an Internet connection.
While I’m sure this will be popular with a lot of users, it does rely completely on you knowing which files you might want access to, and enabling offline sync on your device ahead of time. Two steps forward, one step back?

Video calling enhancements at system level

Google Chromebook plus Asus cx34 review

System-level controls for any video conferencing platform.

The last few years we’ve all faced the dreaded “sorry I’m on mute” and struggled to find the mute/mute button (on any one of a billion different video conferencing platforms like Zoom, Meet, Teams, and more). It just makes much more sense to have those controls readily accessible at the system level, and by that I mean on your lower navigation bar at all times so you can access them with one click.
With Chromebook Plus you now get easy access to things like muting, and camera on/off, right on the lower navigation bar. Plus there’s also options for background blurring as well as noise cancelling for busy environments and even a toggle to use AI to improve your lighting.

I found the new location of these system-level controls to be wildly convenient, and having instant access to a lighting tweak, noise cancellation for barking dogs and loud rooms, as well as an easy way to blur the background is actually one of the more useful features I’ve found on Chromebook Plus.

Google Photos advanced photo editing (Magic Eraser)

Google Chromebook plus Asus cx34 review

Magic Eraser is still amazingly easy.

I’ve written before about the amazing features of Google Photos. And in the Chromebook Plus, Google and ASUS have brought Pixel phone fan favourites like magic eraser to your laptop. I won’t get into detail about this since lots has been written already, but it’s nice to have this feature accessible on a much larger screen.

Google Photos Movie maker & Lumafusion editor

You can imagine a computer that operates largely with files in the cloud and not on-device might not be an ideal vessel for a video editing platform.
Google has toyed with ideas for a powerful-enough video editor but nothing has materialized that was ideal. Google and LumaTouch have made LumaFusion available on the Google Play Store (one-time $29.99 USD fee).

Adobe Express with AI

Easy-access AI assistance is one of the biggest innovations in laptop technology in … decades. And in the Chromebook Plus, one of the most notable ways to see it in action is to try out Adobe’s Creative Cloud apps including the on-device Adobe Express. You can design content like flyers, TikToks and resumes and get easy AI assistance thanks to what Adobe calls Firefly.

Adobe Express for Graphic Design (with Adobe Firefly AI)

It’s been a long time since I used any Adobe software. The company makes great products but it just hasn’t been in my sphere for many years. I was given access to the Adobe suite of Creative Cloud apps to try out on Chromebook Plus, what is reminded how smart many of these apps are.

Google Chromebook plus Asus cx34 review

Adobe’s AI editing features are pretty crazy.

Adobe Express comes on the Chromebook Plus, and this program is a cloud-based media creation app for making things like social media graphics, videos, and other graphic design projects. This website-based service so you don’t need to download giant files and run them on your laptop; everything happens in your web browser.
I was able to use the Text Effects generator to add custom text and fonts to a poster, and the Text to Image generator to create myself a little something for a recent YouTube milestone. AI is still not perfect obviously, but it’s getting better fast.

The Generative Fill feature lets you easily remove things from photos and illustrations, and then quickly add something you do want, all from you Chromebook Plus.

Of course most of this is only available to Chromebook Plus users when they are online, but it’s still a pretty amazing suite of software that works quite well on Chromebook Plus.

I will say using some of these online features did seem slow, but it’s hard to know if that’s the computer not keeping up, for my Wi-Fi.

10 years of updates

Google recently got a bit of bad press after a whole bunch of school districts were forced to junk their Chromebooks after Google stopped supporting them. With the new generation of Plus devices, Google is promising they will receive updates for the next 10 years, which is actually pretty ambitious at this price point and might make these way more long-lived.

Dynamic Wallpapers & Screen saver

Google Chromebook plus Asus cx34 review

Changing wallpapers, as shown on an HP Chromebook at a Google Press event.

A cool feature that’s like icing on the cake is meant to be Chromebook Plus exclusive wallpapers which can change how they appear throughout the day; with four different luxe depending on whether it’s sunrise, sunset, daytime or night time your laptop will be a little more interesting to look at.

Material You for laptop

Anyone who’s familiar with the Google Pixel phones will have heard about the Material You. And anyone who’s ever had to make do with a work laptop running Windows knows what a struggle it can be to make the computer feel like your own.

Google Chromebook plus Asus cx34 review

Material You on Chromebook.

Material You is technology that allows you to customize the phone more to your liking in terms of what the apps and colour schemes look like. Google is carrying this over now to the new generation of Chromebook Plus, and you’ll notice three things; first you get a user interface and colour scheme that is generated based on your choice of wallpaper background. Second, it uses Google’ Google Sans font and third is that the open apps and windows have rounded corners to soften the overall look. Small things, maybe but they can go a long way towards making your laptop feel special.

Overall review: ASUS Google Chromebook Plus

Overall, it’s been quite a while since I’ve been hands-on with a Chromebook, and I have to say there’s been a lot of significant changes now that we have Chromebook Plus. I think Google has been listening to consumer complaints about these devices and is doing its absolute best to address those while still keeping the laptop simple, uncomplicated and affordable.
On the Pro side, you’re getting double everything now— twice the processing power, twice the speed, double the memory, and twice the resolution for a clearer screen over older Chromebooks. The addition of the Adobe Creative Cloud suite on the web is significant and actually goes a long way towards making this device even more useful.

It’s easy to use, boots up fast and easy to configure and personalize. I’m also excited for the arrival of the built-in AI writing assistant.

When it comes to the cons, your biggest issues might be the things that make a Chromebook a Chromebook; the fact you’ll need to prep for going offline, and understanding that some features are limited if you’re off Wi-Fi… but really, how often are we off or far from Wi-Fi nowadays?

To be clear, a Chromebook is not yet a total Windows or Apple replacement. And it can’t be the machine that holds thousands of files ready at the click of a trackpad. But I have to say with what you CAN do with a Chromebook Plus, and the host of improvements made is impressive. If you’re the type of person who keeps minimal files, uses Gmail, and uses a laptop for personal email and surfing the web, and the odd creative project, this is an ideal machine, since it can now also give you access to AI tools to help, and a portal to more creative platforms like Lumafusion Editor and Adobe that can make your Chromebook Plus even more useful than you’d think.

I can recommend the new line of Chromebook Plus, and specifically the ASUS Chromebook Plus CX34 to you. This version sells for about $399US/$699CAD and you’ll be able to get it from any number of electronics retailers, from Amazon, or learn more from ASUS.


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