As somebody who grew up utilizing Home windows PCs after which switched to Macs about twelve years in the past there’s one factor I knew I all the time wanted in a laptop computer: a strong working system that was able to operating the apps and undertaking the duties I wanted for work. Nevertheless, so much has modified in computing during the last 5 years. Now a lot of what we do, like modifying and sharing photographs, creating paperwork, sending emails, and (in fact) shopping the online can all be achieved via a humble net browser with no additional apps wanted. So it comes as little shock that an OS would ultimately come up that was, for all intents and functions, only a net browser and nothing else. And that’s precisely what Google’s Chrome OS is, which runs on Chromebooks. I needed to see how each the system and the OS fared towards PC and Mac laptops, so I made a decision to take one mannequin--the HP Pavilion 14 Chromebook--for a spin. Right here’s what I discovered.
First let’s take a look at the uncooked specs of the HP Pavilion 14 Chromebook.
Show: 14’’ BrightView LED-backlit show (1366 x 768)
Weight: three.ninety six lbs / 1.eight kg
Dimensions: 34.7 x 23.eight x 2.1 cm
Processor: 1.1 GHz Twin-core Intel Celeron 847 Processor
RAM: four GB DDR3
OS: Chrome OS
Storage: sixteen GB
Battery: four-cell Li-Ion, as much as four.25 hours of battery life
Cameras: HP TrueVision HD Webcam with built-in digital microphone
Connectivity: 802.11a/b/g/n, Bluetooth three.zero, Built-in 10/one hundred BASE-T Ethernet LAN
Ports: 3x USB 2.zero, HDMI, 2-in-1 reminiscence card slot (SD, MMC)
Storage, Processor and RAM
Usually I begin evaluations out by taking a look at a product’s show since that's the window via which we talk with a tool. Nevertheless, I need to begin this evaluate out by speaking concerning the Chromebook’s inner specs as a result of by simply glancing on the specs above--a 1.1 GHz Twin-core Intel Celeron 847 Processor, 4GB of RAM, and a 16GB SSD drive--chances are you'll naturally assume the Chromebook is massively beneath-spec’d. And for a standard laptop computer you’d be proper.
However a Chromebook has one perform and one perform solely: to function a skinny shopper to entry providers on the internet. Its Chrome OS (which I’ll go over in additional element later) is actually simply Google’s Chrome browser and every part you do on the Chromebook you do by way of the online. That’s why a 1.1 GHz Twin-core Intel Celeron 847 Processor, 4GB of RAM, and a 16GB SSD is greater than sufficient for Chromebooks. And certainly, the HP Pavilion 14 Chromebook flies with these specs relating to browsing the online, sending emails, utilizing social media, and composing paperwork.
Show and Design
Okay, now that I’ve defined the comparatively “low” specs, let’s check out the HP Pavilion 14 Chromebook’s show. It’s a bigger than regular show for many Chromebooks, which often have shows of eleven-12 inches. I occur to choose 15-inch laptops, so I recognize that HP determined to make a 14-inch Chromebook for others who like greater shows too. The 14-inch show is a BrightView with LED-backlighting and runs at an optimum decision of 1366 x 768 pixels. By far that decision is on no account the most effective available on the market, however for common net use it’s greater than sufficient.
The physique of the HP Pavilion 14 Chromebook is made from a shiny (and barely glittery) black plastic and options snug rounded corners. It’s not the thinnest laptop computer ever at 34.7 (L) x 23.eight (H) x 2.1 cm (D) nevertheless it feels exceptionally mild for some cause regardless that it weighs 1.8kg.
The factor I actually love about its design is the textured trackpad which makes operating your finger over it a pleasing expertise and appears to assist with cursor management. One other factor concerning the trackpad is you possibly can configure a faucet to behave as a click on--one thing which is sweet as a result of the trackpad’s bodily buttons really feel a bit flimsy. And talking of buttons...the keyboard is completely competent, but its keys really feel hole. Nevertheless, I’m spoilt for high quality as I’m used to typing on a MacBook Professional’s unibody keyboard.
One factor that makes a laptop computer sink or swim is how its hinge holds the place of the display when you modify it. I’m glad to report that the HP Pavilion 14 Chromebook’s hinge is among the sturdiest hinges I’ve ever seen. The show held at any angle even once I moved the laptop computer across the room.
Connectivity, Ports, Cameras, and Battery
Earlier than I get to the meat of what makes the Chromebook so totally different--its OS--lets first look at the remainder of the bodily and element options of the laptop computer.
So far as connectivity goes this Chromebook comes with 802.11a/b/g/n Wi-Fi inbuilt, Bluetooth three.zero, and a ten/one hundred BASE-T Ethernet port. The inclusion of the ethernet port is sort of baffling because it’s one thing most individuals don’t use anymore, however I think network directors who need a Chromebook will recognize the throwback. It’s additionally a bit disappointing that this Chromebook gives solely Bluetooth three.zero as an alternative of Bluetooth four.zero. However since most wi-fi mice and keyboards solely require Bluetooth 2.1 or above it’s not that massive of a loss.
For a price range laptop computer, the HP Pavilion 14 Chromebook is full of ports. On the left aspect you’ll discover a Kensington laptop computer lock slot, one USB 2.zero port, and a three.5mm headphone jack. On the fitting aspect you’ll discover two extra USB 2.zero ports, the ethernet port, a 2-in-1 reminiscence card slot that helps each SD and MMC playing cards, and an HDMI port.
The HDMI port is a pleasant contact as I can see many Chromebook house owners connecting their laptop computer to their TV at residence to make use of it as an exterior monitor to observe streaming YouTube or Netflix films on. I’m a bit dissatisfied that, whereas three USB ports are beneficiant on a laptop computer, they're all solely USB 2.zero. Then once more USB three.zero is primarily used for exterior onerous drives and provided that this laptop computer solely has a 16GB SSD and is designed for net use and storage, there’s not going to be a number of giant information on it that want backing up.
On the highest bezel of the show is an HP TrueVision HD webcam and mic. It’s respectable sufficient for Google video Hangouts, however nothing to write down residence about.
The most important letdown of the HP Pavilion 14 Chromebook is likely one of the most essential options of any laptop computer: its battery life. HP determined to solely put a four-cell Li-Ion battery in right here, which barely takes up any room. However given the battery must energy a 14-inch show it’s nowhere close to sufficient juice for a laptop computer. In my checks of primary net shopping and doc creation the laptop computer solely averaged between three hours and three hours and forty five minutes earlier than it was lifeless. HP says it may possibly final “as much as four.25 hours” on a single cost, however even that's pathetic. With out the clunky energy adapter the HP Pavilion 14 Chromebook gained’t even get you thru half a day’s work.
Software program, Providers and OS
The only purpose anybody would purchase a Chromebook is for the Chrome OS. It’s both going to be sufficient for what you should do or gained’t be sufficient in any respect. As I stated earlier, the Chrome OS is simply an working system that's Google’s Chrome browser. Every thing you are able to do on this OS have to be achieved via the online browser. There are not any native apps--not even an e mail shopper. Checking your mail have to be achieved via the online browser, like all the things else. Even the “apps” that appear to be particular person apps are simply HTML5 net apps, just like the calculator.
The excellent news is that if you understand how to make use of the Chrome net browser, you’re mechanically an professional at utilizing Chrome OS. The OS does have a launcher that runs alongside the underside of the display, however clicking on any of the buttons in it--just like the paperwork or YouTube buttons--will merely take you to the Google Docs or YouTube web site within the Chrome browser. There are many net apps you possibly can set up on the Chromebook, however once more, they're all HTML5 browser-based mostly apps.
The excellent news for the Chromebook is that, for some individuals, that is the one laptop computer they want. Google has a plethora of on-line providers from Google Paperwork to Hangouts to Maps that work exceptionally nicely by way of a browser. And naturally some other on-line apps made by Apple or Microsoft or anybody else additionally run high-quality. One other wonderful thing about the Chrome OS is that it stays updated mechanically, consists of constructed-in virus safety you by no means have to fiddle with, and is about as easy to make use of as an OS might be.
From a hardware perspective, the HP Pavilion 14 Chromebook is a robust entry into the rising subject of Chromebooks. It provides a pleasant variety of ports, together with HDMI, and has greater than sufficient processing energy and storage to satisfy a Chromebook consumer’s wants. The one factor that basically kills this Chromebook is its battery life. A battery lifetime of beneath 4 hours is one thing I anticipate from a laptop computer made in 2004, not 2014.
However the actual deciding issue if this laptop computer is for you depends upon how closely you're married to Google’s providers. When you’re a heavy Gmail consumer and use your Google ID greater than some other ID on the Web, then a Chromebook might be for you--in case you are additionally a really restricted pc consumer, which suggests if the whole lot you do in your present pc is by way of an internet browser solely.
Who a Chromebook just isn't for, nevertheless, might be eighty% of the pc-utilizing world. For those who like the power to put in native apps and hold a considerable amount of your information--akin to numerous kinds of paperwork and pictures and movies--regionally in your exhausting drive the Chromebook wouldn't in any means be for you.