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ASUS BR1100F review: A one of a kind notebook for young students and children

By Aaron Yip - 3 Jul 2021

A one of a kind notebook for S$699

Note: This review was first published on 25 June 2021.

The current pandemic has created a “new normal” where most of us must either work or study from home. This has pushed some, if not most, families to invest in a suitable second computer for their children to participate in a home-based learning arrangement. While well-heeled professionals could afford the ZenBooks or similar class of notebooks, there are those on a lower budget or younger students who don’t need a notebook with the power of an Intel 11th Gen or NVIDIA’s RTX 30-Series mobile processors.

Enter the ASUS BR1100F. A convertible notebook that isn’t quite like any other notebooks in ASUS’ line-up. For one, it’s a rugged notebook built for students and support 4G LTE and up to Wi-Fi 6 for remote and distance learning. It also runs Windows 10 Pro and at the heart of it all is the Intel Celeron N4500 processor, which Intel announced earlier this year. Oh, and it is available for S$699.

There's probably no such as too much protection when you let young kids handle an electronic equipment like a notebook.

Out of the box, the BR1100F is quite unlike any other notebooks I’ve seen from ASUS so far. Its cover comes in a polycarbonate material with 3D-textured, micro-dimpled finish, that’s supposed to be resistant to scratches or even fingerprints. The same material is also used to protect the base of the notebook, in addition to a rubber bar to provide better grips and a sturdy support when carrying. But for added protection, tough rubber bumpers run all around the notebook’s exterior edges and corners to reduce the impact of a drop.

The ASUS BR1100F, unfortunately, does not have backlit for the keyboard.

And as if that’s not enough, ASUS has even built the BR1100F to surpass the US military-grade MIL-STD-810H durability standards that allows it to withstand drops of up to 120cm or survive 28kg of force on its top or bottom – while powered on. Finally, the keyboard is also spill resistant with gap-free keys that prevent them from being pried out.

In short, ASUS have made the BR1100F extremely tough for young adolescents to cripple it catastrophically in their wilfulness. But in the unlikely event that they do, the notebook has a modular design that allows key components – such as the keyboard, battery, thermal module, and I/O ports – to be replaced quickly using no more than a simple screwdriver. I’ve tried operating on it myself and it’s really a straight-forward affair as compared to more conventional notebooks. However, I do suspect that the quick availability of spare parts could be limited due to global supply chains being stretched to the limits – no thanks to the current pandemic. Anyway, I digress.

ASUS BR1100F's Key Specifications
Display 11.6-inch LED Touch Display
Processor Intel Celeron N4500 1.1GHz
Memory 4GB DDR4
Storage 128GB eMMC
Graphics Intel UHD
Dimensions 294.6 x 204.9 x 19.9mm
Weight 1.4kg
Price S$699

 

At the heart of the BR1100F is a Celeron N4500 1.1GHz CPU, a dual-core SoC of Intel’s 10nm Jasper Lake series that is primarily intended for inexpensive notebooks. Elsewhere, there’s 4GB of DDR4 RAM and 64GB eMMC for storage found in my review unit. These may not amount to much for performance but does keep the cost of the notebook low.

It’s the choice of display that I thought was unusual but adds to the quirkiness of the notebook – in a good way. As mentioned earlier, the BR1100F is a convertible by design, so you or your kiddo can flip the touchscreen display over and interact it as a tablet with your fingers or the included stylus for some fun doodling. Powered by the integrated Intel UHD graphics, the 11.6-inch LED display has a maximum 1,366 x 720 resolution – and according to ASUS is rated for 250-nits peak brightness with an NTSC colour gamut of 50%. Again, it’s not much but still sufficient for children and young teenagers who just simply requires a functional notebook for basic productivity use: such as getting homework, emails and Internet surfing done it.

The BR1100F comes with a plethora of connectivity including USB 3.2 ports (USB-C and USB-A).

My review unit comes with a sealed off section, which in models sold in other regions will house the microSD card and SIM card tray.

A 720p webcam perched on the screen also allows for schoolers to attend their home-based learning sessions or for doing their projects over Zoom. Interesting, there’s also a 13-megapixel camera mounted at the top of the keyboard. According to ASUS, this allows students to capture photos or videos in tablet mode, which could make the notebook a fun digital companion for the kids to explore their environment with or to play around with their Facebook live feeds. Both cameras are purely functional, however, and don’t compare to webcams on mainstream notebooks. The BR1100F’s webcams have poor colour rendition and unimpressive low light performance, which, quite frankly, is not to be unexpected for a $699 notebook.

There's even a privacy shutter for the webcam.

What about the notebook’s performance in other areas? Well, with a low-powered specs the BR1100F is only ever going to be capable of performing basic computing tasks. This isn’t a machine for content creation or modern gaming. Here’s a summary of the notebook’s performance in PCMark 10’s benchmark.

PCMark 10

Test Score
Essentials 4622
Productivity 2354
Content Creation 839
Gaming 194
Battery Life 8hr 20mins

 

While the numbers above may not look impressive in comparison to the more powerful notebooks that we have reviewed in recent months, the BR1100F performed well enough in the two weeks that I spent using it in a variety of field tests. For instance, typing on a Word document or crafting a Gmail on Chrome works as I imagined it to be, with the only noticeable difference being the time it takes to load an app or when opening multiple programs at once will cause the notebook to lag considerably.  

Children might prefer the BR1100F in its tablet form, allowing them to use the stylus to indulge in their creativity.

I even took it out for a spin with some really old but timeless classic PC games, such as Fallout 2 and Sim City 2000, and the BR1100F took it like a champ. Battery life was impressive. PCMark 10 recorded more than eight hours with the display set at maximum brightness and Wi-Fi turned on, which is pretty close to the nearly-nine hours of battery life that I got out of a combination of Internet surfing, YouTubing, and Spotify-ing.

The ASUS BR1100F is all about sensibilities and practicalities. Not power.

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way we work and study. Working from home and home-based learning are encouraged if not the norm in most countries, and it certainly is for Singapore. So just as there are specialised notebooks for gamers and content creators, ASUS have identified a market gap (or opportunity, if you will) where younger students could do with a more sensible notebook for their home-base learnings and schoolwork, and where the latest Intel 11th-Gen processor or discrete NVIDIA graphics is simply unnecessarily overpowered, and even expensive for some parents.

The ASUS BR1100F makes a particularly good case to fill that gap and then some. For S$699 at retail, it’s one ridiculously over engineered notebook that seems robust enough to withstand abuses from cavalier schoolers and butter-fingered children. It can even transform into a tablet too, and together with the bundled stylus, allows it to function as a digital doodling board. That, the webcam, camera, and relatively decent power to run basic computing tasks and very light gaming also makes the BR1100F a very compelling choice that parents can introduce to their young children as their first notebook. Granted, there are notebooks with better specifications out there, and even notebooks that are priced lower, but the ASUS BR1100F is truly one of a kind.

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9.0
  • Design 8.5
  • Features 9
  • Performance 7.5
  • Value 9
The Good
Well build with a robust design
Decent performance for its specifications
Bundled stylus
Competitive pricing for an budget-level convertible
Great battery life
Excellent "first notebook" option
The Bad
Low specs may not afford it longevity in the long run
A non-convertible with a lower price point option not available
Weight is slightly on the heavy side at 1.4kg
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