HP Chromebook 11: Gadget Watch

This week, Google and HP announced the Australian release of the HP Chromebook 11 laptop.

The laptop runs Google’s Chrome OS which, like Mozilla’s Firefox OS, is a cut-down operating system where all apps basically operate out of a web browser.

And, at just $399, it comes in at an incredibly low price point.

But is it a case of you get what you pay for? It’s time to find out.

Hardware and features

The Chromebook 11 features an 11.6-inch 1366×768 display, a Samsung Exynos 5250 dual-core ARM processor.

It comes with 2GB DDR3 RAM and 16GB storage.

In terms of connectivity, it includes Dual-band 802.11n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.0, two USB 2.0 ports, microUSB charging and a video output.

What’s the consensus?

As AndroidCentral points out, a big issue with any Chromebook is the fact it uses Chrome OS. Chrome OS is Google’s equivalent of Mozilla’s Firefox OS – a cut-down operating system where all your apps, basically, run in a web browser:

Now to the elephant in the room — the Chromebook 11 of course runs Chrome OS as its operating system. If you’ve only used Chrome the browser and not Chrome OS, you’re not far off from the experience here. Using Chrome OS is basically like using the Chrome browser, but with a few differences.

As far as native storage handling and applications go, there really aren’t many. You have access to a simple media player, photo editor (basically just crop/rotate/rename) and file system, but you can’t do a whole lot with it. You can pull files to/from external storage, but the best way to manage files is through the deep Google Drive integration into the file system. You have a few different apps installed off the bat such as a calculator, offline Google Docs and offline Gmail, but most of the enhanced functionality on Chrome OS will come by way of Chrome extensions.

The best way to know if you can “live” with a Chromebook is to look at what you can do with your Chrome browser and various extensions — if you can get things done with just those tools, you’ll be right at home with any Chromebook.

TechCrunch was impressed with the Chromebook 11’s battery life, but warns it can lag on image-heavy websites:

While on the surface, the Chromebook 11 is great, inside, it’s basically packing the guts of a mid-tier smartphone. And it shows. The Chromebook 11 is snappy to start up, wake from sleep and resume thanks to its flash memory, but it’s sluggish with image-heavy websites, with a fair amount of load/scroll lag, and it plays back 1080p streaming videos decently, but not with the polish you’re used to from even top-tier smartphones.

Of course, the ARM processor means that it can get around 5 or so hours of battery life on a full charge, despite its lightness/small size. And it also means it can charge via microUSB, which is pretty cool since if you’re an Android phone user you can just carry one charger around. But the five hours of battery life is actually just okay when you consider that the new Acer C720 is rated at 8.5 hours of use, and even the notoriously piggish Chromebook Pixel gets about the same.

According to Gizmodo, theChromebook 11 is a surprisingly solid second computer, especially for its price. But don’t expect to use Photoshop or computer-aided design on it:

For a laptop that costs way less than a used iPhone, the Chromebook 11 is surprisingly solid. The internal frame is constructed from magnesium to reduce flex, and the moulded plastic panels are similarly reinforced. It’s available in either black or white primary colours, and the white version also features your choice of five accent colours around the keyboard and on the foot pads. The whole unit weighs just over two pounds, or a little bit more than an iPad.

Obviously though, if your job requires resource intensive tasks (like video editing) or a specific desktop program (say Photoshop or AutoCAD), the CB11 won’t cut it. That goes for your personal computing needs too; the dual difficulties of internet near-necessity and limited RAM/storage make this a much stronger candidate for a secondary device.

Finally The Vergesays, for most uses,the main reason you would opt for a Chromebook over an Android tablet is price:

But the only truly compelling thing is the price. Without a touchscreen, or a better display, or better battery life, the Chromebook 11 doesn’t make a great case against tablets like the Nexus 10 or the iPad. And without more power and better performance, it’s really hard to recommend to anyone as their primary laptop.

Who’s it for?

If you’re looking for a low-cost laptop to surf the web, check you Gmail account and perhaps type up a few simple documents, it’s worth taking a look at the HP Chromebook 11.

That being said, if you need to use a specific Mac or Windows program, or are planning on using Photoshop or doing video editing, this is definitely not the laptop for you.

Likewise, if you’re not doing any typing and want a great portable device to surf the web or run your favourite apps on, you should probably look at getting something like a Google Nexus 7 or Apple iPad.


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