As For Us Hardcore Chromebook Fans

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Things have been fairly quiet on the Chromebook front since the launch of Google's gorgeous, but expensive flagship, the Pixel. It's arguably a tough product to beat, however then again, the Chromebook battle is absolutely happening on the low end of the market with machines like Acer's cheap $199 C7 and Samsung's delightful $249 ARM-primarily based mannequin. This is precisely the area HP's determined to enter with its $329 Pavilion 14, the primary Chromebook with a 14-inch display. Apparently, the company's analysis signifies there's room for a bigger Chromebook that's used primarily at house the place thickness, weight and battery life are much less important. While that is tough for road warriors like us to know, it solely takes a go to to Finest Buy to see row upon row of giant, low-cost, generic Windows laptops, so perhaps HP is onto something. Like Acer's C7, the Pavilion 14 is a Chromebook primarily based on an present Laptop chassis. It features an Intel Celeron processor, 2GB RAM, a 16GB SSD and Bluetooth. So how does it evaluate to the aforementioned competition? Is there a market for a bigger Chromebook that mostly lives at home? Read on to find out. It looks and feels low-cost, and manages to be one big mud and fingerprint magnet. It's onerous to get excited in regards to the Pavilion 14's design. There's nothing offensive about it, but it isn't significantly inspired both. Not like a MacBook, Pixel and even Samsung's ARM-based mostly Chromebook it blends in properly with other generic laptops. Perhaps that is the intent, since HP's chosen to build this Chromebook on the identical chassis as the Pavilion 14 Sleekbook, an AMD-powered Laptop working Windows. At first look, the one clue you are dealing with one thing completely different is the Chrome emblem in the top-left corner of the lid. Most surfaces on the Pavilion 14 are finished in a sparkly metallic paint that is black, darkish grey or darkish brown depending on the ambient gentle. The sides, screen bezel and prime half of the removable Li-ion battery are shiny black, and the individual keys and backside surface are matte black. It appears and feels low cost, and manages to be one big dust and fingerprint magnet. Besides the Chrome branding, HP's emblem is embossed in the underside-left corner of the lid. There's an HD webcam, whereas LED and microphone above the glossy show and the corporate's emblem is replicated beneath. A skinny, horizontal chrome strip separates the speaker grille from the two-button trackpad and chiclet keyboard -- it brings some flair to an otherwise bland design. The silver power button with an embedded white LED (on the left) and Altec Lansing brand (on the suitable) are inset in this speaker grille. A normal 3.5mm headphone jack, single USB 2.0 port, cooling vent and Kensington lock are positioned on the left edge. The proper side is dwelling to a pair of white LEDs (power / sleep and SSD), an SD / MMC card slot, two more USB 2.0 ports, an HDMI output, a 10 / 100 Ethernet jack, one other LED (cost) and the power connector. You may discover more cooling vents on the bottom, along with the battery's sliding lock mechanism. While the Pavilion 14 is at present the most important Chromebook in the marketplace, it remains reasonably compact (13.66 x 9.37 x 0.83 inches) and gentle (3.96 pounds). It is high-heavy, however, and kept desirous to fall over backwards after we used it on our lap. Thankfully, the construct high quality inspires confidence -- this Chromebook ought to be sturdy enough to survive a drop or two. Till the Acer C7, every Chromebook featured a standardized keyboard structure very similar to what's discovered on present MacBooks, with the facility button built-in into the highest-proper corner and huge Ctrl and Alt keys paired on either facet of the area bar. Caps Lock on Chromebooks, and this can be modified in the settings). HP breaks these conventions on the Pavilion 14 by recycling a Pc keyboard layout. While the function key labels have been updated to replicate the Chromebook shortcuts and the Home windows key now behaves as a search button, the Ctrl and Alt keys are too small and separated by other keys, making them simpler to miss when typing. Even worse is the additional column of redundant keys on the best (Delete, Residence, Pg Up / Dn, End). Oh, the trackpad -- it is something right out of a landfill stuffed with lifeless Compaq laptops. In fact, Acer's additionally guilty of adjusting the keyboard structure on the C7. We perceive that is the result of chassis sharing to cut back manufacturing costs, but when you're a longtime Chromebook person like us, it is a jarring experience. Google actually wants to put an end to this fragmentation, particularly when Samsung's making no such compromises with the keyboard on its inexpensive ARM-primarily based Chromebook. Beyond the layout points, HP's keyboard deck is strong and the keys provide first rate tactile suggestions. This locations the Pavilion 14 someplace in the course of the Chromebook pack when it comes to keyboard quality. Then there's HP's trackpad. Oh, the trackpad -- it is one thing right out of a landfill filled with useless Compaq laptops. Welcome again to 2003. The Pavilion 14 is the primary Chromebook to ditch the one-piece clickable trackpad that's commonplace in the present day. What you get instead are two overly stiff buttons under a roughly patterned surface -- it appears and feels terrible. Then there's the unused button / indent (and matching LED) in the highest-left nook of the trackpad, which is designed to toggle the trackpad on / off in Home windows, but does completely nothing here. At least two-finger scrolling works -- it's just not almost as easy as on different Chromebooks. None of the opposite gestures illustrated in the tutorial that ships pre-installed with every Chromebook are supported. We're unsure how that slipped via the cracks (see screenshot above), but we're guessing that first-time patrons are going to be fairly confused. The Pavilion 14 features a glossy, 14-inch display screen with a decision of 1,366 x 768 pixels. Considering the larger show is this Chromebook's high promoting point, we might hoped for better-than-average efficiency in this space. Unfortunately, HP chose a panel that is merely sufficient. Brightness is serviceable, but contrast is mediocre. And viewing angles are poor, particularly in the vertical axis. Glare is a significant difficulty with this display screen and we found ourselves always having to adjust the lid to minimize reflections. Another point to consider is that Chromebooks like Acer's C7 and Samsung's ARM-based model pack the identical decision because the Pavilion 14 into smaller 11.6-inch displays, resulting in higher pixel density. This display screen might be okay for casual internet shopping, however forget getting any critical work accomplished until you wish to pressure your eyes. On the plus facet, the Pavilion 14's Altec Lansing speakers sound pretty decent. It is refreshing since audio efficiency is usually an afterthought with most Chromebooks (Pixel excepted). The audio system are considerably lacking in bass, however produce sound that's loud and clear general -- perfect for that prolonged Hulu or Netflix session. On Chromebooks, CPU and GPU efficiency usually have an effect on page rendering, scrolling and video playback, while the amount of RAM dictates what number of tabs you're in a position to open simultaneously and storage efficiency often impacts such things as page caching and boot times. The Pavilion 14 ships with a 1.1GHz dual-core Celeron 847 (with Intel HD graphics), 2GB of RAM and a 16GB SSD. By way of pace, it slots behind the Pixel and Samsung's Chromebook 550 (which both provide sooner processors and 4GB of RAM), but forward of Acer's arduous-drive-geared up C7 and Samsung's ARM-based mostly Chromebook. We measured a median SunSpider rating of 519ms (model 0.91) and a boot time of eight seconds. Video playback was glitch free, even at 1080p, and the fan, whereas noticeable, was never loud sufficient to be an issue. Bluetooth 3.0 and 802.11a/b/g/n connectivity labored advantageous in our checks. In follow, the Pavilion 14 is a snappy web terminal that handles multiple tabs with aplomb. Some is likely to be keen on rising the amount of RAM and whereas this system isn't officially user-upgradable, HP's hinted that you will find a standard SoDIMM slot inside -- hackers, start your screwdrivers. Unfortunately, battery life is disappointing. On paper, the removable 4-cell 37Wh Li-ion battery is purported to final as much as 4 hours and quarter-hour. In our normal rundown check -- which includes looping a regionally stored video with WiFi related -- we solely managed to keep the Pavilion 14 alive and kicking for three hours and 35 minutes. That is only marginally higher than Acer's C7 and considerably worse than each different Chromebook. Then once more, HP's fast to level out that spare batteries are available for $sixty three on the company's website. Your mileage could fluctuate, but you've been warned. It's fairly liberating to have a machine that's centered on doing a single task effectively. We've several Chrome OS aficionados in our midst right here at Engadget. It is not for everybody, however if you happen to spend loads of time utilizing cloud services, it's fairly liberating to have a machine that is targeted on doing a single task nicely (internet shopping). There's also one thing to be stated for having a system that requires no upkeep and is safe to lend to family and associates. Still, you actually need to live with Chrome OS for a short time to appreciate it. Once you do, it can be a very productive and rewarding work atmosphere. Our Pavilion 14 overview unit came with model 23 of Chrome OS pre-installed, but instantly up to date itself to model 27, which introduces a number of new options. Panel Home windows present a means for sure Chrome OS apps (corresponding to Hangouts) to be docked at the bottom-proper corner of the display subsequent to the clock and standing icons. Open tabs and apps are easier to manage because of lists which appear while you hover over the icons within the launcher -- this is similar to leap lists in Home windows. Talking of which, the launcher can now be repositioned to the left, bottom or right of the display. Other tweaks include a hierarchical folder view in the Recordsdata app together with autocomplete throughout search. It's worth noting that a number of of these improvements do not come enabled by default and have to be switched on within the Experimental Features menu (chrome://flags). You may discover a shortcut to HP's registration page within the Apps menu, and like different Chromebooks, the Pavilion 14 comes with 100GB of free storage on Google Drive. Acer C7 Chromebook evaluate: Chrome OS on the cheap, however at what cost? If -- as HP suggests -- there's a market for a bigger Chromebook that spends most of its time at house, the Pavilion 14 is a poor ambassador. The company simply made too many compromises when it decided to build its first Chromebook from a recycled Computer chassis. Whereas it is moderately skinny and gentle for a 14-inch laptop, the non-customary keyboard layout and antiquated trackpad are dealbreakers. Add a lackluster display and mediocre battery life to the mix and you have a recipe for disaster. The Pavilion 14's only redeeming qualities are its zippy efficiency, first rate audio system and stable build high quality. Is it value $329? Absolutely not. You'd be far better off choosing up Acer's C7 for $199 -- especially now that it ships with an SSD as an alternative of a traditional laborious drive -- and get pleasure from the identical stage of efficiency with a greater trackpad. Spend somewhat extra and Samsung's $449 Chromebook 550 walks everywhere in the Pavilion 14. Finally, we predict that Samsung's $249 ARM-primarily based model remains the perfect low-finish Chromebook in the marketplace at the moment -- and the truest to type. As for us hardcore Chromebook fans? We'll give up our Pixels if you pry them from our cold dead hands. All merchandise really helpful by Engadget are chosen by our editorial staff, unbiased of our guardian company. Some of our tales embrace affiliate links. If you purchase something through one of these hyperlinks, we could earn an affiliate commission.