A battery-powered Chrome browser 7 capable of high quality cover
Almost a full decade after its original global announcement, the Chromebook is still a rarity in the Indian laptop market. We’ve seen Chromebook models from brands like HP, Acer and Samsung in the past but none of them have really launched. None of these brands have reported great Chromebook success stories in India This is partly due to the high selling price of these machines and partly because users want more from their laptops, such as support for Windows apps.
HP, however, is confident that the Chromebook is back. And so, in less than a month, the American PC maker has launched the Chromebook 14 and the Chromebook x360. The former is priced at Rs 23,990, the latter – which is the laptop in question today – is priced at Rs 44,990 for the Core i3 variant and Rs 52,990 for the Core i5 variant. On the face of it, that price looks reasonably steep. But could a modern, updated Chromebook in 2019 pull it off like HP’s latest offer? Find out.
The review unit we got was the Core i3 variant, which is currently selling at Rs 44,990 on the HP online store. The unit comes with an Intel Core i3-8130U CPU, part of the 8th Gener (Kaby Lake) series launched in early 2018. The review unit was equipped with 8GB DDR4 RAM and 64GB eMMC storage space. The graphics card was Intel UHD Graphics 620 integrated. On a laptop of this price, I would love to see the new Core i5-8265U (Whiskey Lake) CPU with the same 8GB RAM but no such luck.
You might want to check out an Intel 9th Gen Core i5 sticker here, but no luck
The Chromebook x360 review unit has proven to be a reliable and convenient companion for my work. I had virtually zero problems using the review unit for composing emails and documents, browsing the web, playing music in the background, watching videos, and more. Sometimes I noticed a hiccup in the animation when switching between virtual desktops but it was never unprepared in the long run.
A cold boot on the Chromebook x360 occurs in ten seconds, and an average size PDF file (1.5–2MB) opens in two seconds, which is at least impressive. Windows 10-powered laptops in the same price range typically take three times longer to boot on the desktop because they employ a lazy hard drive. So, if fast browsing is the main reason you buy a new laptop, then the HP Chromebook x360 fits that bill perfectly. Despite having a one-year subscription to Google One (which gives a user the right to 100GB extra space in Google Drive), I think the Chromebook x360 could come with a larger storage drive.
Like all modern Chromebooks, the HP Chromebook runs the x360 Chrome OS, which is primarily a Google-owned PC operating system built around its popular Chrome browser. In addition to the obvious browser applications, Chrome OS comes with very few features or components, a fact that is the key to its speed and simplicity. However, there is a built-in file manager, which can be integrated with Google Drive and Dropbox, but not Microsoft OneDrive (at least not easily).
Chrome OS has recently gained support for Android and Linux apps, which I believe could make a big difference to the way Chromebooks are perceived in India now, including the new HP offer. A shortcut in the Google Play Store appears in the taskbar (or shelf, as Google calls it) right after setup. Android apps are installed and run on Chrome OS just like an Android smartphone. For example, a game like Temple Run 2, which is meant for portrait screens, runs in portrait mode in a separate window and can be interacted using the touchscreen, keyboard and touchpad. To read more about the setup process, check out our first impressions of the Chromebook x360 here
You can enable virtual desks in Chrome 76 using the Chrome flag
Since I use a Google G Suite account at work, I’ve been able to compose tens of thousands of emails and documents per day using Google’s long-standing services like Gmail and Docs in the review unit. Google Keep, Slides, Sheets, and Hangouts come in handy. Since I couldn’t install a Windows-compatible version of Microsoft OneNote, I chose to use the web version. The Android version of OneNote worked well, but it’s easy to say that the app was for touch inputs.
Whether you’re a MacOS or Windows user, Chrome OS is fairly easy to use. There are plenty of easy-to-learn keyboard shortcuts and the touchpad interprets triple-click as a middle-mouse click in the browser. The HP Chromebook x360 is easy to use as a laptop but somewhat difficult to use as a tablet. This is mostly because it feels quite heavy in the hand; The weight of the device is 1.68 kg. Also, the touchscreen displays some latency, so taps and swipes need to be repeated occasionally. It’s a shame that the HP Active Pen doesn’t come bundled with the Stylus device.
Display, audio and IoT
The HP Chromebook x360 has a 14-inch WLED-backlit touchscreen display with a full HD resolution. In my experience, the display is both colorful and bright. The colors on the display look rich without being overly saturated, which is good news for photography enthusiasts. In fact, the colors lean slightly towards a warm tone, which makes extended reading and browsing enjoyable.
Maximum brightness is sufficient for office, home and sunlight balconies. The maximum viewing angle is around 180 degrees. If anything, the touch response is a bit low, which means you can create multiple swipes across the screen to scroll. If you initially plan to use the Chromebook x360 as a laptop, its display will work fine.
Bright, colorful 14-inch Full HD display
The sound is loud and clear from the top-firing speaker strip of the HP Chromebook x360 for casual music, but nothing more. The highs and lows make it quite clear but the lows are somewhat damaged. The good news is that even at the highest volume, music does not sound. With this Bang & Olufsen-branded speaker strip you’ll be able to play smooth jazz and light electronic tunes in the background while working, without feeling the need to connect an external pair of speakers.
The HP Chromebook x360 has most of the required ports on either side of the body. On the left, there’s a USB-C 3.1 port, a 3.5mm audio jack for the headset, and a microSD card slot. On the right, there’s another USB-C 3.1 port, a USB-A 3.1 port, and a Kensington lock slot. The power button and volume rocker also find themselves next to the body of the laptop.
Charge from left …
The USB-A port supports HP’s Slip & Charge technology, which allows charging smaller devices, such as smartphones and portable Wi-Fi routers, while the laptop is in sleep mode. One of the laptop’s two USB-C ports can be used for charging, power delivery, video output and data transfer. The only things missing are a fingerprint scanner and a full-size HDMI port (to avoid messy dongle life).
… or right
Keyboard and touchpad
While HP laptop keyboards are extremely soft and thus unresponsive to some models, the HP Chromebook x360 automatically backlit keyboard is a surprisingly comfortable unit for long documents and email. Its keys are flat but have the right amount of travel and resistance for easy typing The top row contains shortcut keys that come in handy when browsing. Normally, there is no Windows Start key but instead you get long Ctrl and Alt keys, which are equally effective. In other words, you’ll enjoy using the keyboard to work and play on the HP Chromebook x360 as well.
The HP to x360 range has so far used a low quality Synaptics driver instead of Windows 10’s bundled exact driver for laptop touchpads, which supports configurable multi-touch options. This has been a constant complaint of mine on many HP models. The Chromebook x360, however, doesn’t matter because it doesn’t have Windows. The touchpad response on the Chromebook x360 is precise and intuitive; It works similarly to a perfect touchpad on a Windows laptop. It supports multi-finger tap and swipe. The two click buttons at the bottom of the touchpad surface are soft enough for frequent clicks.
Construction and design
According to HP, the 16mm-slim body of the Chromebook x360 convertible has a “fluid chrome-plated hinge” and is “made with a premium matte and anodized finish”. According to HP, the top cover is made of 3D metal and coated with a special material for a ceramic-like finish. The result is a laptop that both looks great and feels tough on the hands.
The HP Chromebook x360 is a must see
There is almost no sign of flex when opening or closing the lid and it is grippy enough to hold in one hand. Suffice it to say that the HP Chromebook x360 is well built for viewing and everyday use. Sadly, the HP Chromebook x360 sells only one color, which is a milky white that attracts various dirt marks and stains.
Inside, we see a clear, glossy 14-inch display panel surrounded by a medium thick black bezel. The keyboard island — and indeed the entire base panel — is painted in a cool blue color that doesn’t exactly complement the top cover. This gives the impression that the ceramic white display was retrofitted on a laptop that was originally light blue.
HP only sells the Chromebook x360 in one color option
On the other hand, the keyboard keys get a slightly darker tone of blue, which gives the keyboard island some more unexpected character. The spacious touchpad also gets a fine “diamond cut trim” around the edges for that extra dolph of the class. Despite the seemingly confusing paint work, the HP Chromebook x360 is a very well-engineered device. If anything, this HP device can do with some weight loss.
The HP Chromebook x360’s three-cell 60Wh internal battery is suitable for long hours of unplugged browsing. In the review unit (Wi-Fi, Bluetooth enabled and the screen set to 70 percent brightness), the battery dropped from full charge to 60 percent in five and a half hours, I probably have five more hours left – at least. This is incredible for any laptop within this price range. During another test browsing session, the battery drops to 100 to 84 percent in an impressive two hours. In short, the HP Chromebook x360 has an incredibly long battery life, suitable for on-the-go users.
The last row
The thing about the new HP Chromebook x360 is that you can’t make it look like a normal Windows laptop. You can’t call it on paper because it doesn’t offer you a more powerful CPU or more features for the price because it doesn’t promise you anything. The Chromebook is designed to give you a hassle-free online computing experience, and HP’s Chromebook x360 has succeeded in doing just that. All you can do is evaluate your own needs from your next laptop purchase and determine if the Chromebook fits the x360 bill.
Ceramic-like top covers get dirty easily
If you’re in the market for a hassle-free premium convertible laptop that runs really well for many hours without the need to plug in the Chrome browser, consider the HP Chromebook x360. However, if you believe you need to run other locally installed software such as Adobe Photoshop, Steam or even Microsoft Office in the future, consider a Windows laptop instead. The HP Chromebook x360 is ideal for anyone else who sticks to their Chrome browser window.
- Chrome OS is smart enough to pause video playback on one tab if it detects a music source on another tab and lowers the volume for message tones.
- To lock your session you need to press and hold the lock key on the keyboard; This is to prevent accidental lock
- Like Windows 10, there is a PIN option for quick sign-in, but it must be at least six digits.
- Virtual desk (virtual desktop feature) will be available in future Chrome OS releases but you can enable flag chrome: // flags Chrome OS version 76 or later
- Like Windows 10, you can use Alt + [number] To jump / launch a pinned app on the shelf