HP Chromebook 11 Reviewby Anand Lal Shimpi on October 15, 2013 2:45 AM EST
A company that can very easily be held as complicit in the mismanagement and decline of the mainstream PC industry, HP did nothing short of a tremendous job with the Chromebook 11.
Under Google’s influence, HP has built a near perfect example of what an entry level PC should be. It boots fast (< 13 seconds even in dev mode), has a great display, comes with dual-band 2-stream 802.11n WiFi, has good sounding speakers, looks stylish, is light and feels well built. The keyboard is great and even the clickpad isn’t as bad as it is on far more expensive PCs. You honestly get one of the best examples of a portable machine for $279, and that’s without even relying on the benefits of Chrome OS to help sell the bundle. Anyone looking for a glorified web browsing, email checking, internet terminal will be right at home with Chrome OS. Flash works and you obviously get what’s arguably the world’s best web browser. You don’t have to worry about updates, malware or viruses, all of that is taken care of for you. It’s the modern typewriter equivalent, a true entry level computer, and HP/Google have done an excellent job in bringing this to market.
Chrome OS is extremely purpose built and it is something that should bring about great concern to those at Microsoft. I personally don’t have a problem with Windows 8, but purpose built is hardly a phrase that applies to the OS - at least if you’re talking about it on a more traditional PC. I suspect by the time we get to Windows 9, Microsoft will have a better answer to the critics of 8/8.1, but that gives Google and its Chrome OS partners at least another year of marketshare erosion. At the beginning of this mobile journey I remember x86 being an advantage for Intel, and we all know what happened to that. Similarly, I remember Windows/Office being advantages for Microsoft. If Microsoft doesn’t find a quick solution for making low cost Windows PCs just as well executed as Chrome OS devices, it’ll find itself in a world where Windows no longer matters to entry-level/mainstream users.
My only complaint about the Chromebook 11 really boils down to silicon selection. Samsung’s Exynos 5250 is just too slow. A pair of Cortex A15s running at up to 1.7GHz draws too much power and doesn’t deliver the sort of multitasking performance that we’ve come to expect in 2013. You can forget about having a good experience multitasking while playing YouTube videos. Streaming music in the background while you surf the web is about as far as you’re going to be able to push the Chromebook 11 without incurring significant lag. There are clearly better options on the market today, either Snapdragon 800, a quad-core A15 based design or my personal pick for this type of a machine: Intel’s Bay Trail.
If you’re looking for the Chromebook 11 to last you for 5 years, I’d be very concerned about you running out of CPU power well before then. For lighter use you’ll be fine, but with things like the Haswell Celeron based Acer C720 selling for $250 it’s clear that HP went a little too slow on the CPU front. I haven’t seen the C720 in person but my guess is you’re sacrificing display for CPU performance. HP got the mix nearly perfect with the Chromebook 11, with a faster CPU this wouldn’t just be a great machine for light use but likely the perfect entry-level notebook.