Hands on: HP Chromebook 11 review


Hands on: HP Chromebook 11 review

For

  • Great screen
  • Micro-USB charger
  • Design
  • Price

Against

  • Average battery life
  • Keyboard
  • Chrome OS may be too limiting for some

Has the Chromebook finally found its feet?

Google's high-end Chromebook Pixel raised applause and eyebrows in equal measure when it hit the shelves back in February.
Despite being a beautiful device with a crystal clear IPS display packing an impressive 239 PPI, many questioned whether a machine running Google's internet-reliant Chrome OS could justify a hefty $1299 (£1,049 or AU$1374) price tag.

HP's Chromebook 11 was "inspired" by the Pixel's design. It's a device we were immediately drawn to for its clean looks and portable leanings, which are particularly attractive plus points considering the machine has been priced at a mere £229 ($279, or AU$364).

Moreover, the company appears to have got picked the right areas to keep the cost down without compromising the Chromebook experience.
HP Chromebook 11

HP Chromebook 11 design

Simply put, this is the best Chromebook to have pitched its pearly-white tent in this price bracket.
That's partly down to its reflective plastic body, which harks back to the days of Apple's white polycarbonate MacBooks (were they really discontinued just two years ago?).

From the lid to the gaps between its chiclet-style keys, light bounces off the Chromebook 11 at every angle (with the exception of its matte black, logo-bearing bezel). It looks great, but it does mean that the machine attracts fingerprints like a magnet.
A strip featuring Google's trademark colours can be found on the back of the lid. Like Apple's MacBooks, it lights up when in the open position, lending it another subtle MacBook-like touch.
HP Chromebook 11

HP Chromebook 11 display

Though we think Google has the right idea with Chrome OS, its reliance on the internet to provide functionality through its online services and Chrome Store apps leaves it entering the fight with one hand behind its back.
It's a story that Surface RT tablet owners will be all too familiar with, and it means that, as with Microsoft's decision to bump up the resolution on the Surface 2, Chromebook manufacturers had to ramp up the attractiveness to put out desirable machines.

With the Chromebook 11, HP has done just that. It sports a sharp 11-inch (1366 x 768) display that provides wide viewing angles (176 degrees, to be exact) thanks to the inclusion of an IPS panel, which provides deep blacks and makes colours 'pop'.
Chrome OS's animations - whether that's switching from full-screen to windowed mode or the taskbar fading out - are more visually appealing than ever before.
HP Chromebook 11

HP Chromebook 11 specs

Ultimately, at this price point, the Chromebook 11 was going to have to make a few sacrifices and a major one is the processor.
HP decided against an Intel processor (the powerful Core i5 is found in the Chromebook Pixel), instead choosing to opt for a dual-core Samsung Exynos 5250 processor backed up by 2GB RAM.

Chrome OS is a naturally light on its feet, so even with the downgrade we failed to detect any slowdown when opening apps and windows, and the device still wakes up immediately from sleep like a MacBook.
HP Chromebook 11
The device itself weighs 1.04kg, so it's certainly a portable machine that you could sling in a bag without a second thought. But it's not super light - that's the same as many Intel Ultrabooks.

It comes with 16GB of internal storage, which you'll need to install an increasing number of 'Desktop Apps' emerging from Google's Chrome Web store.
Of course, Google is also throwing in 100GB of cloud storage for two years that you can use to store and retrieve files from before splashing out for a subscription.

HP Chromebook 11 connectivity

The only ports to be found on the Chromebook 11 are on the left-hand side of its body, the most notable being a micro-USB slot used to charge the device.
It's a remarkable first for a laptop and only adds to its mobile feel. Best of all it means an end to lugging around chunky charging bricks that can cause serious follicle damage (when you're ripping your hair out, obviously) when they give up the ghost or become frayed at the ends.

HP reckons you'll get about six hours' use out of the Chromebook 11 before needing to plug in a charger, and if you do need one, a spare one should never be too far away.
Other ports include two USB 2.0 connectors and a headphone jack, and a front-facing VGA webcam is housed in the top of the device's lid.
HP Chromebook 11

HP Chromebook 11 keyboard and trackpad

Let's face it - a laptop at this price is never going to afford you the reassuring springiness of Apple's MacBook Air ultrabooks, but the Chromebook 11 offers adequate travel and decent spacing between its full-size keys.

It certainly didn't blow us away, and it may be the case that we would have to spend longer with the machine before making our mind up proper.
There's also the usual row of Chrome OS-specific shortcut keys along the top. The matte trackpad feels responsive enough, and it supports two-finger scrolling and three-finger tab switching in Chrome.
HP Chromebook 11
Flip the Chromebook 11 over and you'll find a strip of padding along the top and the bottom that matches the coloured trim around the keyboard.
There's a HP logo in the middle, the only evidence that the company actually made the device. It's joined by an even more inconspicuous "Made with Google" logo underneath.

Early Verdict

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About Doru Somcutean

Hello, my name is Somcutean Doru and I'm from Romania.

I really like to read reviews and see what's new about technology, on D-BLOG I share with you articles/reviews that I find interesting. I also write some reviews in romanian...

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