Chromebooks are somewhat controversial because they put the ideas espoused in browser-based operating systems to the ultimate test; day-to-day use. And honestly, they’ve been more a curiosity than anything else. HP and Google are hoping to change that with their new Chromebook, but honestly, they’re not bringing much to the table.
This is, almost literally, just slapping some makeup on the last version, but at least this makeup addresses a few problems. Samsung’s low-end Chromebook was so flimsy, you could click on the trackpad by pressing hard against the bottom of the device; HP has built their new Chromebook to be sturdier, made out of magnesium. The screen now has 176-degree viewing angles, where the Samsung basically was impossible to look at unless you had the screen tilted just right. They even tweaked the charger; this laptop now uses micro-USB to charge, meaning your tablet, your phone, and your laptop can all be charged with one cord.
Same Ol’ Insides
Not changed? The internals. The screen is still an eleven-inch, 1366 by 768 display. It’s still running an Exynos 5250 processor and has 2GB of RAM with 16GB of storage. And, probably the biggest dealbreaker, it still ships with Chrome OS. True, installing Ubuntu is something you can doing during breakfast, and in fact Chrome makes it hot-switchable, which is a nice touch. But the processor is built on AMD architecture, so it’ll be a back and forth to figure out what apps will work on Ubuntu.
Good For Experimenting And Little Else
If you want to screw around with Chrome OS in an ideal environment, or are looking for a cheap and reasonably sizeable Ubuntu laptop, it’s hard to argue with the $280 price this carries. But it’s also hard to argue that Google sells better hardware, like the Nexus 7, for a lower price point. Until Google keeps the price low and gives this some beef, this is going to stay a curiosity.
Dan Seitz is an obsessive nerd living in New England. He lives in the Boston area with a fiancee, a dog, a cat, and far too many objects with processors.