I’ve been a lover of Chromebooks for a while now and in that time I’ve had the pleasure of using a couple different Chromebook models. I’ve used the Samsung Series 3 Chromebook, the Acer C720, and most recently, the HP 14. While using the HP 14, I’ve been able to experience the larger screen size that I had never before experienced on a Chromebook, and all the added bonuses that I was able to enjoy with this model.
The HP 14 is by no means a slouch. This Chromebook has been able to take just about anything I’ve thrown at it with ease. Dual monitors, a dozen tabs, HD video playback, and more without a noticeable impact on performance. The HP 14 brings the same processor found in a few other Chromebook such as the Acer C720 and Dell Chromebook 11, an Intel Celeron processor. The chip wouldn’t perform nearly as well on a Windows or Mac machine, but Chrome OS absolutely flies. That processor is backed by 4GB of RAM and 32GB of SSD storage. Obviously this Chromebook packs a 14” inch screen which is great for getting work done. The additional screen real estate allows me to get much more done at once compared to 11.6” inch models. It’s also great for watching movies on the road or gaming. However it’s not all great with that size, but I’ll get to that a little later.
Not every Chromebook is designed well and that’s mainly because of it’s extremely low cost. These laptops are designed to be cheap yet still work well. It’s far and few in between when you find a well designed Chromebook. However the HP 14, at least in my opinion, falls into the well-designed models. While it is nowhere near as nice as something like the Chromebook Pixel, it’s still a well-designed machine. Accents look great the matte texture looks and feels great. As you can see I got the white model which actually looks surprisingly nice in my opinion. So far it’s been resistant to any stains or scratches and feels like I just took it out of the box. However the lid is a bit of a fingerprint magnet.
As mentioned earlier, the HP 14 does have a 14” inch screen which makes bringing the laptop places is a bit more of a project than the smaller 11.6” inch models. However it’s not the size that made me think that this laptop was a pain to travel with, it was the weight. Yes I understand that a 14” inch laptop is going to be heavy, but the HP 14 feels unnecessarily heavy. Proportionately it is much heavier than the Acer C720 and Samsung Series 3. I found that surprising. Even when comparing it to a 15” inch Windows machine (Toshiba) I found that the weight was equal even to the larger laptop. This was shocking since the HP 14 is nearly two years newer as well. That is one thing that I truly just did not like about the HP 14. It’s simply too heavy to travel with.
This is usually the pitfall of most Chromebooks, and unfortunately, the HP 14 will continue with the trend of a 1366×768 resolution. While on smaller machines, this isn’t too big a problem, on the larger 14” inch screen of this machine, it does become an issue. The screen has a much lower pixel density than those smaller machines and usually brings a lessened experience. Now I am by no means a pixel junkie. I love having a high resolution display, but I can live without it. However I found that the HP 14 did have a surprisingly low resolution screen. Pixels were very noticeable depending on your environment. However I don’t think that it will affect your user experience too much. The resolution is low, but since it’s at a distance, it’s not too much of a problem. Luckily too this screen gets pretty bright which is great for outdoor viewing. What’s not great for outdoor viewing is the fact that this machine has a glossy screen rather than a matte display. This means reflections are present in full force. While this was a little irritating at times, it’s something that’s easy to adjust too, especially when indoors.
Keyboard & Trackpad
Even with their low cost, most Chromebook still bring some great hardware. It’s been a pleasure to use every Chromebook I’ve owned just based on the typing experience alone. I typically find it easier to type on a Chromebook that it is to type on any other machine. The HP 14 has been no different. The machine brings a great keyboard that has very easy to feel keys that are easy to press. There’s no satisfying click when you hit them, but that’s not always a bad thing. While I do love a mechanical keyboard, the HP 14 is great for typing in a quiet environment or at night. The trackpad wasn’t quite as good. The click wasn’t very satisfying but it was very accurate and did what I needed it to do.
I’ve gotten used to lasting easily through a day or two on my Chromebook with ease, but the HP 14 blew me away. I was able to get 2 to 3 days of battery life before feeling like I needed to charge. Soon after getting this Chromebook, I actually had to take a weekend trip to New York and during that entire trip, I never once had to plug in my Chromebook. This included writing here on our site, transferring some files from SD cards from my camera, connecting over HDMI to a TV to show some video, and using mobile data and I still came home with nearly 30% of my battery. I was amazed by this. I still have not been able to kill this machine within a day and it’s hard to do even over two days. If you can kill the battery on this machine within 24 hours, you may want to go outside a bit more.
Of course like other Chromebooks this machine has WiFi but no ethernet and this one is no different. WiFi speeds were equal to what I got on any other WiFi devices I would use on the same network. What I really enjoyed though is that I didn’t have to rely on WiFi to get on the internet with this Chromebook. I opted to get the T-Mobile connected model which comes out of the box with 200mb of free data each month for two years. That was a great deal on it’s own but when I brought the machine to a T-Mobile store to get the correct SIM card, I was greeted with the offer of 1GB of free 4G data each month for the next few months. T-Mobile may not have the best network, but when I had HSPA+ speeds I could get things done without an issue. If you can spend the extra cash to get the T-Mobile model, I’d recommend doing so.
There are other parts of the HP Chromebook 14 obviously including the speakers and webcam. The speakers were loud and crisp with not much to complain about. Of course they could always be better though. The webcam was decent. I would still recommend hooking up an external webcam for anything other than a Hangout call, but this one will take care of the basics with a level of quality. The fan is quite noisy however. Even in a room with some music playing from the TV, I could still hear it just a little bit. It’s not quite as loud as many other computers, but it’s definitely noticeable.
Pros & Cons
So I’ve gone into detail, but here’s your quick recap. The good and the bad.
Easy To Use Keyboard
Low Resolution Screen
Final Score – 7/10