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!

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