HP Chromebook 14 review
HP's Chromebook 14 offers one of the best ways to enjoy Chrome OS on a large screen. Here's our HP Chromebook 14 review.
For the most part Chromebooks have been presented as small, portable, cheap, lightweight machines designed to be thrown in your bag when you head out. To fit this mould the majority of devices have come with 11.6in displays. As Bob Dylan once crooned, though, the times they are a changin’. A few newer devices are beginning to emerge that shrug off the diminutive stature of their brethren and instead proudly display themselves in a far grander fashion. The HP Chromebook 14 is one such beast, emblazoned with a 14in screen that feels like a football field in comparison to the usual Chromebook fare.
This extra space is great if you make use of the Google Spreadsheet app, or indeed any of Microsoft’s web Office suite, which can be slightly tortuous on smaller screens. Then there’s the obvious advantage of having a larger aperture through which to explore the internet itself, with all the Youtube video goodness it contains. It’s something of a shame then that the HP Chromebook 14's screen is only really average in terms of quality.
There are very few Chromebooks, or cheap Windows laptops, that boast decent displays, mainly due to the fact that they increase the cost of a machine. So, like many others, the HP Chromebook 14 comes with a TN panel that has quite shallow viewing angles, dull colours, and a resolution of 1366x768. It’s not terrible by any means, and is completely acceptable for the day to day tasks that Chromebooks are intended, but feels like a missed opportunity when it’s one of the main selling points of the device.
Another aberration from the Chromebook norm is the useful addition is a SIM card slot, which means you can use a 3G data plan when out of Wi-Fi range. HP in fact bundles a free two-year data plan to get you going; with only 250MB a month included you won’t want to be visiting any graphics heavy pages, but as something to keep you online in an emergency it’s a handy little feature.
Much of the rest of the device is standard Chromebook territory; there’s a 16GB SSD drive, a more generous 4GB of RAM, and the whole show is run by a 1.4GHz Intel Celeron CPU based on Haswell technology. This combination is tried and tested, which is why you’ll find it on several other rival models, and works well to make the HP Chromebook 14 a nippy device that can cope with general browsing and document based activities.
The capaciousness of the chassis also means that HP has managed to cram in two USB 3.0 ports, plus an additional USB 2.0 orifice, while still retaining an SD card reader and HDMI port. A large battery is obviously housed in there somewhere, as the HP Chromebook 14 managed to last the best part of a very respectable eight hours in our tests.
Bathed in a sea of turquoise, the livery for the HP Chromebook 14 is fun and playful. You won’t want to walk into any boardroom meetings with this device under your arm, but for home and school it’s far more interesting than boring old silver or black. Inside the vibrant plastic shell you’ll find a silver fascia that holds a spacious, white keyboard in place. In classic Chromebook fashion there are few extraneous keys, but rather a simple, friendly layout that is very easy to use. At first the typing experience is a little spongy, but after a little use your fingers adjust and it’s actually a decent experience, although not the best in class. The same can also be said of the wide touchpad.
One curious part of the design that we noticed was that due to the size of the machine, and it’s curved lower edges, we often leaned on the edge of the keyboard with our elbows when not typing, and this caused the machine to lurch up suddenly. Obviously deportment lessons for reviewers would solve this small issue.
There’s a lot to like about the HP Chromebook 14. It’s big, nice to use, and offers something a bit different to Chromebook users. We’d like to see an improved screen quality to really make it stand out, and maybe a firmer keyboard, but if you want a larger way to enjoy ChromeOS then this is a great place to start.