You can lean on its kickstand, but not its CPU.
All in all, Asus’ Chromebook Detachable CM3 is a nice package. It’s a 10.5-inch tablet with a magnetically attached fabric cover and kickstand. It’s $389.99 as tested, which means it’s priced far below all kinds of convertible Chromebooks. I’m not the first to make this comparison, but it’s a slightly more expensive and slightly fancier version of the $269 Lenovo Chromebook Duet that impressed me so much last ufabet year.
I think the CM3 is a slightly worse purchase than the Duet for most people who are looking for a secondary device or a small Chromebook for a student. The CM3 does offer a few noticeable benefits over the Duet, but I’m not sure they’re worth $100. While features like a dual-folding kickstand, a garaged stylus, and a headphone jack are nice to have, none of them are as central to a device’s user experience as its processor. And while $269 is an acceptable price to pay for a tablet with a MediaTek chip, $389.99 is pushing it.
With all that said, I don’t have many problems with this Chromebook. It’s just in a bit of an odd spot.
My test unit includes 128GB of storage, 4GB of RAM, a 10.5-inch 1920 x 1200 display, and a MediaTek 8183 processor. There’s a 64GB version listed at $369.99 as well. 64GB isn’t a lot of storage (and there’s no microSD card slot for expansion on the CM3), so my config is the one I’d recommend most people go for.
The most important thing to understand about the CM3 before you buy it is the size. It’s small, with just a 10.5-inch screen. This brings benefits and drawbacks. On the one hand, it’s quite slim and portable, at just 0.31 inches thick and 1.1 pounds (2.02 pounds with the keyboard and stand attached). It’s the kind of thing I could easily carry in my purse.
But it was too small for me to comfortably use as a work driver. I had to zoom out far to be able to see everything I needed to in my Chrome windows.
The touchpad, in particular, is small. The keyboard itself is roomier than the Duet’s, though; it has a surprising amount of travel and a satisfying click. While the small keys are a bit of an adjustment, none are small enough as to be unusable.
Small doesn’t mean cheap, and the CM3’s build is fairly sturdy overall. The palm rests and detachable keyboard deck feel quite plasticky, but the tablet itself is aluminum (with “diamond-cut edges,” per Asus). The magnetic cover is made of a woven fabric and looks quite similar to the cover of the Chromebook Duet. The cover is included with the price of the CM3, which isn’t the case with some detachables (such as Microsoft’s Surface Go line).
A USI stylus lives in the top-right corner of the chassis. It’s firmly in there, so you’ll need a nail to tug it out. It’s small and not my favorite stylus I’ve ever used, but it is there and does work. The Duet supports USI styluses, but it doesn’t come with one, so that’s one advantage the CM3 brings.
ASUS CHROMEBOOK DETACHABLE CM3 SPECS (AS REVIEWED):
- MediaTek MTK 8183
- 4GB LPDDR4X DRAM
- 128GB storage
- 10.5-inch 16:10 display (1920 x 1200), 320 nits
- 27Wh Li-polymer battery
- 45W USB-C adapter
- Dual five-magnet stereo speakers
- 2MP front camera / 8MP rear camera
- One USB 2.0 Type-C, one 3.5mm combo audio jack
The main way the CM3 is unique to other detachables is that its kickstand folds multiple ways. That is, you can fold it the long way when you’re using the tablet like a laptop, or you can flip the tablet vertically and fold the kickstand horizontally. This is a cool feature I haven’t seen before, and it does work.