Tuesday, June 10, 2014

"Made With Google" HP Chromebook 11-- we hardly knew ye! : Chromebooks and Libraries 2014, Part 2

I have been evaluating the $279* "Made With Google" HP Chromebook 11 (Model 11-1101).  Available just since last Fall, HP is apparently now replacing it with another 11-inch Chromebook lacking Google's touches and styled to resemble HP's larger Chromebooks.   

Light-weight and svelte, the Chromebook 11 looks like its mother was frightened by a MacBook Air.  The white plastic is broken up by colored accents on the base and a matching colored band around the keyboard.  The colors can be Google blue, Google red, Google yellow, or Google green.  Because this was "Made With Google", get it?  There is also a Google-colored strip of light on the top, which glows when the device is turned on.  I guess this could have been something of a "Nexus Chromebook."  

A more substantive added feature is the IPS HD LED-backlit display.  Although still the standard 1366 x 768 resolution, the display is sharp and bright and a more than few steps above the competition.

The mobile-phone class Samsung Exynos 5 SoC (also used in the Series 3 Samsung Chromebook I reviewed in 2012) provides decent (and fanless) processing power.  It's still good enough for web surfing and light office work, but clearly raw power has been traded for affordability and fanless operation (and possibly to help pay for that display).  You have to watch what you're asking this little Chromebook to do.

The keys are fine for typing, with good spacing and travel. No complaints about the trackpad, either. 

At 2.26 pounds, it's lighter than the 2.43 pound Samsung (and also lighter than the new HP model, which weighs in at 2.69 pounds). 

Cheerful, cheap and even a little stylish, this shiny, plastic-y Chromebook 11 looks like it might get scratched or scuffed-up in typical library use (although in our adults-only evaluation it held up well).  But it looks well-suited to being handed out for casual use by patrons (as opposed to being attached to desks for lab use).  It's light and cool enough for lap use.

Perhaps not "institutional" enough for lab or classroom use, it makes a fine personal device.   

Note that (at least today), the "Made With Google" Chromebook 11 is still widely available, and though the new model is on HP's website, clicking on the "Buy Now" button links to this older model.

*As of this posting, HP is selling them for $229 after a $50 "instant discount".

Monday, June 09, 2014

Chromebooks and Libraries 2014, Part I

Hewlett Packard Chromebook 14
Chromebook sales are surging and many new models are coming to the market.  This year I am evaluating several new Chromebooks, including the $299 HP Chromebook 14.

The whole computing experience has been standardized and simplified for Chromebooks, which is a good thing for (most) patrons, and certainly for support staff. Manufacturers have to compete around the edges. 

HP found one obvious way to differentiate their Chromebooks-- case color!  Although our review device was white, I like the idea of fitting out labs with the available turquoise or (pinkish) coral colors (or both!).  Perhaps that's just me. 

The larger screen of the HP Chromebook 14 could give patrons a more comfortable viewing experience, if only the 1366 x 768 resolution were sharp enough for true comfort.  A lot of patrons will appreciate the larger screen, and in typical short-session use in a lab, the fuzziness might not even be noticed.  But you are definitely paying for acreage, not quality, with this display.     

If you keep your computers anchored to tables or desks, you won't be bothered by the 4 pound weight of this larger Chromebook, and to keep your anchored devices from going adrift, a connector for a Kensington lock is included.  

Powered by Intel's Haswell (HSW-U) processor, the HP is notably faster than the Samsung's little mobile phone Exynos CPU.  New tabs seem to pop right up, no matter how many dozens of other tabs you have open.  The faster speed definitely will be appreciated by those coming from the Exynos-powered Samsung. The price of the faster CPU is heat, but the HP has a (relatively quiet) fan. 

Battery life is good, running 8-9 hours of typical web browsing, and perhaps 5 hours of heavy streaming video use.

The keyboard seems fine, with good key travel and spacing. The trackpad was not so fine, however. Many swipes and gestures had to be tried more than once.

While there is a lot to like about the HP Chromebook 14, there are other 14 inch Chromebooks on the market, or about to be released.  I would take a look at the competition before selecting the HP Chromebook 14, unless you're crazy about turquoise!