The HP Chromebook 14 has been my companion for the last few weeks and has surprised me in its functionality and ease of use. At the beginning of the week, I went to Walmart and picked this Chromebook up, having made my decision to purchase it a couple of days before. I expected it to be tablet like and slow, yet it has surprised me in its power. There are limitations to Chrome OS, the operating system that runs on all Chromebooks. However, I have learned to accept them and hope that over the next year or two my Chromebook will be as capable as my Windows PC.
Like Windows, Chrome OS is the operating system that runs on all Chromebooks. Each Chromebook is exactly alike in the sense that they run the same OS (operating system), but differences are made by manufacturers choices about hardware. If you are looking to purchase a Chromebook, personal preferences about hardware is what will guide your buying decision, as it did mine.
I had purchased the Snow White HP Chromebook 14, which looks great on the outside with a smooth rubber feel on the hood of the laptop and the same rubber on the bottom, but with a slight texture. This Chromebook also comes in Peach Coral and Turquoise. The edges of the Chromebook are not smoothed and rounded like most cheap laptops, but instead have a definitive edge that looks and feels great. Once the laptop is opened, HP surprises you with an aluminum look for the trackpad and around the keyboard, though it is plastic. The trackpad is very large, which is a surprise on a budget laptop. Obviously, HP tried their best to keep a budget price, while giving a premium look and feel. I really do enjoy the look and feel of the laptop, which does not look as cheap as most Chromebooks to date.
The HP Chromebook 14 comes as an update to the previous HP Pavilion Chromebook 14. The biggest change was the processor, updated from an older Intel Celeron processor to Intel’s new Bay Trail Celeron processor. These new processors promise better battery life and performance than previous ones, and so far have succeeded in doing so. Besides that, the Pavilion Chromebook 14 had a familiar look that resembled other budget and plastic laptops HP has released, not like the new look of the current HP Chromebook 14.
Weight and Size
With a 14-inch screen, this is the largest Chromebook available (not counting the HP Pavilion Chromebook 14 previously mentioned), so is also one of the heaviest. Coming in at a little over four pounds, when choosing to purchase this Chromebook, you are choosing screen size over weight. However, I do not find this Chromebook too heavy. HP distributed the weight throughout the Chromebook so well that the four pounds is not that big of a deal to me. I find it to be the perfect balance between size and weight. In addition, the 14-inch screen is the reason I purchased this Chromebook, because I like to watch Netflix and YouTube videos on a large screen, not the tiny 11-inch size common among Chromebooks.
The screen has a 1366×768 resolution, which I find is enough to enjoy watching Netflix on. The blacks on certain shows are not as dark as on other laptops, and it may look pixelated compared to higher resolutions, but do keep in mind that this is a $299 laptop. Knowing that you paid so little for it reminds you that you should not be expecting a high-definition display. If that is what you are wanting, you would best wait for the new 13.3-inch Samsung Chromebook to come out, which has a 1920×1080 display, though it does cost more at $399.
Ports and Battery
I find that this Chromebook comes with plenty of ports to satisfy my needs: 2 USB 3.0 ports, a full HDMI port, headphone/microphone combo jack, and a Kensington lock on the left side, and an SD card slot and USB 2.0 port on the right side, along with the charging port. The Chromebook has a 720p camera above the screen, and the speakers are on the bottom edges near the front of the laptop. I was actually surprised at how loud and clear they were, and I almost never use them at full volume. Battery life is great, as promised, though I do not get HP’s nine hours. However, it is rare that any laptop actually lasts as long as the manufacturer says it does. I do get a healthy seven hours of good use, changing depending on screen brightness and what I am doing at the time, such as watching Netflix versus writing an article.
The base model for the HP Chromebook 14 costs $299 and comes with an Intel Celeron 2955U processor clocked at 1.4 GHz, the standard 16 GB SSD found among Chromebooks, and two GB of memory. The more expensive model at $349 comes with four GB of memory and T-Mobile HSPA+ mobile Internet built in. This is 4G Internet, but not LTE. I did run a speedtest, and recorded 5.6 Mbps download speed and 1.63 Mbps upload speed in my home. However, places like New York will get much higher speeds than mine, and people who live in less densely populated areas will get either poorer speeds or no reception at all.
In addition, this Chromebook comes with 200 Mb of free mobile data a month for the life of the device (as long as you register every year with T-Mobile for the free Internet). That is not a lot of data, but enough if you need to just send a paper to your teacher or boss, or do a little bit of surfing. However, you can add more data through T-Mobile.
T-Mobile offers two ways to add data: a one time pass, or a monthly plan.
On Demand Pass
- Day Pass- 500 MB for $10
- Week Pass- 1 GB for $15
- Month Pass- 3 GB for $30
- 1 GB for $20
- 3 GB for $30
- 5 GB for $40
- and so on up to 13 GB
I chose the HP Chromebook 14 because I wanted a laptop that I could use for watching movies and doing my work on. I personally prefer larger screens, so I compromised the light weight of the smaller Chromebooks for the larger screen of the HP Chromebook 14. In addition, I like having the T-Mobile Internet for emergencies and the option to add more data if I want to. However, this Chromebook is not for everyone. If you need something that can fit in a bag, or can be easily carried around all day, then I would recommend one of the smaller 11-inch Chromebooks, such as the HP Chromebook 11 or the Acer C720. Over the past week, I have found ways to do the things that I would normally do on a Windows PC, on my Chromebook, such as writing papers and editing photos, and I even found some great games on the Chrome Web Store.
In addition, I have not noticed any performance issues in this Chromebook, such as having so many tabs open that it slows down. In fact, this Chromebook is one of the fastest computers that I have used. One piece of software that I was especially afraid of losing was Rosetta Stone. Rosetta Stone, a language-learning software, is a resource hungry program, whether using the online or the offline program. I already knew that I could not use the offline program, since traditional software can not be installed on a Chromebook, but I was not sure if the Chromebook could run the online version. To my surprise, it loaded quickly and easily, never missing a beat. Another problem that I was expecting to have was not being able to create webpages or write in code on the Chromebook. However, I have found a few apps from the Web Store that do a great job for writing in code.
The only issue that I have had on this Chromebook is the lack of support for Unity. Currently, any games running in Unity will not work on a Chromebook. This does cause limitations currently, however Google is constantly working to provide solutions for issues such as these, so I am expecting this problem to be solved within the next year.
Whether or not this Chromebook, or any Chromebook, is an option for purchase is entirely up to you. However, the presence of Chromebooks is rising, and the gap between them and traditional PCs continues to narrow with every Chrome OS release.