#parent | #kids | Asus BR1100 Review; a rugged laptop for school kids at an affordable price


With lockdown over and schools and colleges opening up, if you are confused about which laptop to buy for your kids then ASUS has your back with the New BR1100 laptop. The thing with laptops is that most of them are not built with a child’s usage in mind. All laptops unless the rugged versions that we see military using, are delicate and won’t survive a fall. Another thing to consider is your budget, buying an expensive full specced out laptop for your child, who might break it or not be able to utilize the full power of the machine is pointless.

But here lies the catch, most of the budget laptops under INR 25K are underpowered and might not be child proof. This is where ASUS BR1100 comes in, a laptop specifically built for school going children, priced at INR 24,999, its not going to break any benchmark charts but it will do what its meant to do and survive all the abuse a care-free child could throw at it. In between reviewing high end ROG gaming laptops we did get our hands on the BR 1100 and we enjoyed our time with this unique machine. Here is our report.

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

Design

As said before, the keywords here are ‘rugged’ and ‘child proof’, the moment we unboxed the BR 1100, the device felt different unlike something we were not expecting from a 25K laptop. The build is plasticky but it feels dense and well made. Something on the lines of a G-shock watch, its not apocalypse proof but you get the drift. The laptop is made of toughened plastic with rubber protection on all sides, designed to absorb impacts and protect the internals. ASUS says the BR1100 is tested to comply with demanding military-grade MIL-STD-810H durability standards. Which in non-marketing language means it can withstand a drop from a height of 120cms, the lid and bottom can withstand a pressure of 28kg, it’s also spill-resistant upto 330cc of liquid and the chassis is twist tested for upto 50,000 twisting tests.

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

If this doesn’t impress you, there is more, since COVID is still hanging around, the company has also provided an anti-bacterial coating on the BR 1100, the keyboard, touchpad and palm rest are protected with anti-bacterial treatment which is resistant to alcohol based cleaning products.

The keyboard and trackpad feels nice to use, they definitely don’t feel cheap. The BR 1100 comes with sizable bezels all around the display but considering the toughness of the laptop and the target audience its acceptable. There is a rubber bar and grips at the back, that makes holding the laptop much easier.

BR1100 during day-to-day usage
BR1100 during day-to-day usage

Performance

The ASUS BR1100 is designed for children and also costs under INR 25000, with these two things in mind we were not expecting much in terms of performance from the device. However, the BR 1100 did perform pretty well. The laptop comes with Intel Celeron N4500 dual-core CPU that can go up to 2.8GHz in turbo mode, the 10nm processor is paired with 4GB 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 which is user upgradable to 1TB. The SSD makes the laptop zippy with faster boot times and app load times. While we did not run any benchmarks on the laptop which is designed for children, we did try to emulate what a typical usage case for such a device would be and tried to see the performance and battery life. With Microsoft Word, MS Paint, and the Chrome browser with 2-3 tabs running continuously we found the device to perform satisfactorily. Replacing MS Paint with Google Meet or Zoom app, the device continued performing well, except one or two stutters here n there while using Zoom through the web browser. YouTube and Netflix streaming works absolutely fine as well.

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Overall considering the target audience are school going children, the performance is more than enough.

BR1100 - IO Ports layout left and right
BR1100 – I/O Ports layout left and right

I/O Ports, Display and Webcam

The BR 1100 comes with many 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 could easily hold on signals even when the access point was quite far, typically in schools access points are inside the classrooms or outside in the lobby and BR 1100 should be able to hold on to signals comfortably.

Display

The BR 1100 comes with a 11.6-inch, 1366×768 display, while the resolution is nothing to write about, ASUS has worked on the display making it easier on the eyes of the children. The panel comes with anti-glare coating and features low blue light mode along with Anti-flicker tech. ASUS tells us, the panel has passed TÜV Rheinland Eye Care certification. In our usage the display worked fine indoors, however the brightness levels were low for outdoor usage.

The HD Webcam on the BR1100 comes with a physical webcam shutter
The HD Webcam on the BR1100 comes with a physical webcam shutter

Webcam

Keeping in mind the remote learning situation that we saw during the lockdown, ASUS BR 1100 comes with a HD (720P) webcam along with a webcam shield cover. ASUS has added 3D noise reduction tech to improve the webcam output in addition to AI based noise cancellation to improve audio coming in and going out. The result was impressive considering laptops costing more than double the BR 1100 don’t offer these features.

Extra Features

During the lockdown, everyone was forced to go online and use computers, smartphones and contact less payments during day-to-day life. This also resulted in a lot of cyber security issues popping up. With kids as its target audience, the BR 1100 comes with a comprehensive set of privacy and security features. Apart from being rugged and durable, the BR 1100 comes with a webcam shutter so you can be carefree no one is watching your kids without their permission. Data protection is offered using TPM 2.0, meanwhile the ports and the hinge on the BR1100 are reinforced with steel brackets for durability.

The BR 1100 comes with a LED indicator on the corner of top lid, while this might seem quite normal, ASUS explains the reason for LED placement on the top lip is to give the teachers a heads up on the student’s laptop status. The LED remains on during normal usage, it starts slow blinking when power drops below 20% and fast blinking when 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 10 hour battery life with the fan less design, which means a full day in school. In our testing which involved a streaming video loop test the BR 1100 last for over 6 hours, during local video playback the laptop lasted slightly below 8hours. In day to day usage the 42 WHr battery lasts a long time, that is also because you really can’t do power intensive tasks on the laptop. Emulating the target audience which are school going kids, we used MS Word, outlook and Chrome with 2 tabs open and the device lasted a full working day of usage. We feel the battery life is very good for the intended purpose of the device.

The thermal management is done with a fan-less design, reducing the weight and increasing the durability with less moving parts inside. This works well with light usage, the moment you open multiple tabs on chrome with maybe one tab streaming video/music the bottom tends to heat up a bit.

Rubber Bar and protection underneath the BR1100
Rubber Bar and protection underneath the BR1100

Verdict

The BR 1100 is a unique device, for the first time a manufacturer is directly targeting school kids with a device specifically made for them. Features like rubberized coating all around, anti-bacterial coating, TPM 2.0, Display panel with eye protection, 3DNR webcam etc, the BR 1100 is not a half baked product marketed as a students laptop, its built with students in mind from ground up. While its easy to recommend other higher spec laptops, but the BR 1100 as a package is unbeatable for the price and easily last through the abuse any child can subject it to.



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