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Asus BR1100 Review; A durable laptop for school kids at an affordable price

Asus BR1100 Try a rugged laptop for school kids at an affordable price
If you’re unsure about which laptop to buy for your kids after lockdown and schools and colleges reopening, ASUS has your back with the new BR1100 laptop. The thing about laptops is that most of them aren’t built for kids to use. All laptops, except for the rugged versions we use in the military, are fragile and will not survive a fall. Another thing to consider is your budget. There is no point in buying an expensive, full-featured laptop for your child who may break or be unable to use the full power of the machine.

But here’s the rub, most budget laptops under INR 25,000 are underpowered and may not be childproof. That’s where the ASUS BR1100 comes in, a laptop specially designed for school kids and priced at INR 24,999. It won’t break any benchmark charts, but it will do what it’s supposed to do and survive all the abuse a carefree kid could throw at it. Between reviewing high-end ROG gaming laptops, we got our hands on the BR 1100 and enjoyed our time with this unique device. Here is our report.

BR1100 with its 180 degree hinge
BR1100 with its 180 degree hinge

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As said before, the keywords here are “rugged” and “kidproof”. The moment we unboxed the BR 1100, the device felt different than something we didn’t expect from a 25K laptop. The build is plasticky, but it feels dense and well-made. Something along the lines of a G-Shock watch, it’s not apocalypse proof but you get the drift. The laptop is made of hardened plastic with rubber protection on all sides that absorbs shock and protects the inside. ASUS says the BR1100 has been tested to meet demanding military MIL-STD-810H durability standards. Which in non-marketing language means it can withstand a 120cm drop, the lid and base can withstand 28kg of pressure, it’s also splashproof up to 330cc of liquid and the chassis has been rated for up to tested to 50,000 twist tests.

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BR1100 comes with a brilliant keyboard
BR1100 comes with a brilliant keyboard

If that doesn’t impress you, there’s more, with COVID still hanging around, the company has also provided an antibacterial coating on the BR 1100, the keyboard, touchpad and palm rest are protected with an antibacterial treatment that’s resistant to cleaning agents alcohol based.

The keyboard and trackpad feel nice, they definitely don’t feel cheap. The BR 1100 has large bezels around the display, but considering the laptop’s ruggedness and target audience, it’s acceptable. On the back there is a rubber strip and handles that make holding the laptop much easier.

BR1100 in daily use
BR1100 in daily use

perfomance

The ASUS BR1100 is designed for kids and also costs under INR 25,000. With those two things in mind, we weren’t expecting much in terms of the device’s performance. However, the BR 1100 did fairly well. The laptop is equipped with an Intel Celeron N4500 dual-core CPU that can reach up to 2.8 GHz in turbo mode. The 10nm processor is paired with 4GB of RAM clocked at 2933MHz. While this configuration is common in the budget segment, ASUS has upped the performance quotient by adding a 128GB PCIe Gen 3 SSD that is user-upgradable to 1TB. The SSD makes the laptop nimble with faster boot times and app load times. While we didn’t run any benchmarks on the laptop designed for kids, we tried to mimic a typical use case for such a device and tried to see the performance and battery life. Using Microsoft Word, MS Paint and the Chrome browser with 2-3 tabs scrolling constantly, we’ve found the device to perform satisfactorily. Replacing MS Paint with the Google Meet or Zoom app, the device continued to perform well, with the exception of a stutter or two here and there while using Zoom via the web browser. YouTube and Netflix streaming also work absolutely flawlessly.

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Overall, the performance is more than adequate considering that the target group is school children.

BR1100 - arrangement of the IO ports left and right
BR1100 – Arrangement of the I/O ports left and right

I/O ports, display and webcam

The BR 1100 has plenty of ports, including a Type-C port that supports power delivery. 1x USB 3.2 Type A USB, 1x USB 2.0, Gigabit Ethernet, a full-size HDMI 1.4 and a 3.5mm audio combo port are available. The device supports dual-band Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.2 for wireless connectivity. We tested the BR 1100 for Wi-Fi coverage with our Wi-Fi 6e mesh router and the device was able to easily maintain signals even when the access point was quite far away, typically access points in schools are inside classrooms or outside in the lobby and BR 1100 should be able to hold signals comfortably.

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The BR 1100 has an 11.6-inch display with a resolution of 1366 x 768, while the resolution is nothing special, ASUS worked on the display to make it easy on children’s eyes. The panel is equipped with an anti-glare coating and features a low blue light mode and anti-flicker technology. ASUS tells us that the panel has passed TÜV Rheinland Eye Care certification. In our use, the display worked fine indoors, but brightness levels were low outdoors.

The BR1100's HD webcam features a physical webcam shutter
The BR1100’s HD webcam features a physical webcam shutter

cam

Considering the remote learning situation we’ve seen during lockdown, the ASUS BR 1100 comes with an HD webcam (720P) along with a protective webcam cover. ASUS added 3D noise reduction technology to improve webcam output in addition to AI-based noise reduction to improve audio in and out. The result was impressive considering that laptops costing more than double the BR 1100 don’t offer these features.

Additional functions

During the lockdown, everyone has been forced to get online and use computers, smartphones and contactless payments in everyday life. This also caused many cyber security issues to appear. With children in mind, the BR 1100 has a comprehensive set of privacy and security features. As well as being tough and durable, the BR 1100 features a webcam shutter so you can rest easy knowing no one is watching your kids without their permission. Privacy is offered using TPM 2.0while the BR1100’s ports and hinge are reinforced with steel brackets for durability.

The BR 1100 comes with an LED indicator on the corner of the top lid, although this may seem quite normal, ASUS explains that the reason for the LED placement on the top lip is to give teachers an overview of the laptop’s to give status to the student. The LED stays on during normal use, starting to flash slowly when power drops below 20% and flashing quickly when the internet connection is lost.

The charging adapter that comes with BR1100
The charging adapter that comes with BR1100

battery life and thermals

While ASUS claims a battery life of 10 hours with the fanless design, which means a full day at school. In our tests, which were a streaming video loop test, the BR 1100 lasted over 6 hours, while local video playback lasted the laptop just under 8 hours. The 42 Wh battery lasts a long time in everyday use, which is also due to the fact that you really can’t do any power-intensive tasks with the laptop. We emulated the target audience which is school kids and used MS Word, Outlook and Chrome with 2 tabs open and the device lasted a full workday in use. We find the battery life to be very good for the intended use of the device.

Thermal management is done with a fanless design, reducing weight and increasing durability with fewer moving parts inside. This works well on light usage, as soon as you open multiple tabs on Chrome, perhaps with a tab streaming video/music, the floor tends to get a bit warm.

Rubber strip and protection under the BR1100
Rubber strip and protection under the BR1100

Verdict

The BR 1100 is a unique device, the first time a manufacturer is targeting school children directly with a device made especially for them. With features like all-round rubber coating, antibacterial coating, TPM 2.0, display with eye protection, 3DNR webcam, etc., the BR 1100 is not a half-baked product marketed as a student laptop, it is designed from the ground up for students. While it’s easy to recommend other higher-spec laptops, the BR 1100 as a package can’t be beat for the price and easily withstands the abuse any child can endure.

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