Hands-on with HP’s New Chromebook11

The word is out. Working in close collaboration with Google, we’re introducing an elegant little number – the HP Chromebook11. That’s kinda a big deal.  

 

 

While you can read more of an “official” blog post about it RIGHT HERE, I was able to sneak an HP Chromebook11out of the labs when nobody was looking. (Pro Tip: Leave an incomplete math equation on a whiteboard and run the opposite way. Works every time.) Here’s a quick taste of this tasty little ultra-portable:

 

chromebook 11 box shot.jpgIt’s all about simplicity (and, selling for an estimated street price of $279.99, affordability). In fact, it’s a departure from the norm before you even open the box.

 

Take a look in the box and besides the HP Chromebook there’s a powered Micro USB charger – that’s all you need. Fire it up, attach a Google account to it and within a couple minutes, you’re in business.  

 

chromebook 11 box opened.jpg

 

 

A word about the design

Imagine taking some of the design lessons learned from the sweet Google Pixel and driving it down into a tasty white morsel.

 

chromebook 11 profile.jpgIt’s flush with clean lines and a hard, white plastic shell that feels right in your hands. Hints of colored accents line the 2.3-pound HP Chromebook11. A colorful rubberized ring runs around the keyboard, sitting below the surface. While on the underside lie a couple bold, colorful rubberized strips (and those bits of laptop flare come in four colors: Green, Yellow, Red, Blue). The back of the lid, a slim little wedge that, when on, shines out that Google rainbow of colors.

 

At the same time, it’s both perfectly rugged enough to be your kid’s first computer and awesomely cool-looking enough that you’d be proud to pull this out on campus (or at the local café after graduation) thank to the unique, funky look. The sealed case has few seams with the few openings parked on the right side: Two USB 2.0 ports, the micro USB power port (so, the good news is that the same cable that charges your Android tablets and smartphones can charge this) and a 3.5mm headset jack.

 

chromebook 11 keyboard.jpgThe floating Chiclet keys feel great with a deep button-drop response that you’d expect from a more luxurious laptop. Even if you have big, stumpy sausage fingers (like I do) the keys are not only comfortable, but well-spaced. The only thing that threw me off at first was the power button placement in the top right corner. I accidentally tapped it a couple times, but no worries – you have to hold the button down for a couple seconds. The on-screen cue that you’re powering down is that the screen starts lens-flaring out to very cool effect.

 

As for the A/V experience, the 11.6-inch IPS screen has a sharp, vivid WXGA picture. I spent a couple hours watching Hulu Plus and Netflix with HD image quality, viewable at wide 176-degree angles. It can actually get quite bright as well. You could also just shoot out the video through an external dongle to HDMI.

 

The digitally-tuned speakers underneath the keyboard are pretty respectable as well – they can fill a (dorm) room reasonably well (or, obviously, plug in a headset to drown out the roomies). Honestly, I think that you’ll be pleasantly surprised when you start watching your first movie. Or streaming your first soundtrack from Google Play.

 

chromebook 11 bottom shot.jpgGoing under the hood

First thing, there’s an ARM processor and 2GB of DDR3 RAM running the show. While you’re mostly using this online (and in the cloud), you need to be able to go offline sometimes. That’s where the 16GB SSD will come in handy for stashing any apps you grab from the Chrome Web Store.

 

Now one thing I should point out is that this tiny guy is so dependent upon a net connection, I was pleased to discover that it has an amazing ability to pick up the WiFi signal in distant, blocked corners of my house thanks to the 802.11n antennae. And for when you’re nowhere near a Hot Spot, you can always snag the optional 4G LTE connectivity through Verizon. (And Bluetooth 4.0 to connect to devices.)

 

chromebook 11 outside.jpgI’m still learning the ropes of the HP Chromebook11, but initial tests are showing you’ll be able to get upwards of six hours if you don’t have volume up to full blast and brightness kicked up to “blaze” while performing less strenuous battery tests. (HP is using Google Chrome OS power_LoadTest.  Battery life will obviously vary and the maximum capacity of the battery will naturally decrease with time and usage. See http://www.chromium.org/chromium-os/testing/power-testing for more info.) I was easily able to binge on over four hours’-worth of streamed TV in one sitting.

 

 

Aside from the obvious Google-y apps , (you’ll have access to gmail, gdocs and the like) there’s the Chrome app store. But what else are you getting for your $279?

  • 100GB of Google Drive storage, free for 2 years.
  • 60-day free trial with Google Play Music All Access
  • 12 free sessions of GoGo Inflight Internet

 

Not bad, right? Well, stay tuned – we’ll have more updates for you soon. But now, time to open up the mics. You have questions? I have answers. What do you want to know about our new Chromebook?

 

Want get the HP Chromebook11? Click here.

 

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