Tuesday, February 26, 2019

My New Chromebook - HP Premium Chromebook 14" ($268 USD from Amazon)

My New Chromebook - HP Premium Chromebook 14

After 4 years of hard use — including overseas trips to Italy, the UK, and New Zealand — my original Chromebook, also an HP, started to develop a few lines on the display. I tore the system apart, which I have done on a couple of occasions, but this appears to be more related to general wear and tear as opposed to a loose connection or card. 

I didn’t realize the Chromebook was 4 years old until I looked back through my Amazon history and found the original order. It has served made well and at a fraction of the cost of the Apple MacBook Pro, I used to travel with. I find that I can do about 90% of all my typical work on a Chromebook, leaving things like video and audio editing to my even more venerable Mac Mini 2011. 

My New Chromebook - HP Premium Chromebook 14I was recently updating my iPhone to a newer model and at the extremely high, unsubsidized price, I knew I was going to have to make some monetary decisions to keep my technology budget in shape. Since the Chromebook is so much less expensive I decided to consciously avoid purchasing a new Mac laptop, put the money into a new iPhone XS (where I do most of my reading and social media work) knowing that if I needed a new laptop anytime soon I could get a new Chromebook at a fairly inexpensive price. I am glad I did that because only 6 months or so after the iPhone purchase, I needed to replace my old Chromebook.

A few lines on the screen didn’t hamper me much with the older HP unit, but a lot had changed in the Chromebook environment since I made that first purchase. Looking at the various models available — some which approach Apple prices — I found a unit that took advantage of many of these advances and yet was missing some of the more esoteric features like touchscreens and 180º screens that allowed you to turn the Chromebook into a tablet.

The HP Premium Chromebook 14” is a more basic model but has a number of enhancements over the old one. First, the screen is capable of full HD 1920x1080 resolution. This is a nice step up in screen real estate and clarity of videos. Next. it also supports running Android applications directly. I am not sure how much I will use this particular feature, but I testing it out a little at a time. The HP Premium Chromebook 14” also supports access to a Linux system under the hood, allowing you to access command line programs like sftp, ping and a few others. I haven’t loaded up many other Linux apps yet, but I plan on playing around with this quite a bit. Having access to native Linux tools on the laptop could help bridge the gap when suitable Chrome-based extensions and apps don’t meet specific needs.

My New Chromebook - HP Premium Chromebook 14

On the hardware side, the HP Premium Chromebook 14” comes with 2 USB-C ports for both charging and peripherals. In the short time I have had the computer, it seems to charge much more quickly than its older counterpart, which I would credit to the USB-C. It also allows you to place the charging cable on whatever side the computer makes the most sense. Sometimes you want it on the right and sometimes the left — perhaps to get close to the wall outlet. This is a small update, but flexibility is always nice. The system has more SSD drive space at 32GB, up from 16GB but has the same 4GB of RAM. I wanted to have 8GB, but those systems came at a much higher price point. The SD Card slot is a mini-slot instead of full-sized. This doesn’t cause me any immediate issues and the world seems to be moving more to the mini-sized cards anyway. Finally, 2 USB 3.0 ports and a headphone jack round out the available connections. The processor is an Intel Celeron N3350 and already seems quite a bit more spritely than the old Chromebook. Four years can make quite a difference in technology. 

One port that is missing is the full-sized HDMI from the older unit. I didn’t use this a lot, but an HDMI to VGA Adapter allowed me to easily connect to projectors and TVs when desired. A quick look online shows a lot of options for USB-C to VGA and HDMI dongles that are available, so I will probably pick up one of those to ensure I can use this unit for presentations in the future.

The finish on the HP Premium Chromebook 14”  is pebbled rather than glossy and think this will help to keep fingerprints from marring the surface which made the older unit look at bit dirty at times. 

The HP Premium Chromebook 14” was available from Amazon and other sources. The price including tax (delivery was free) came to $258 USD. Currently, pricing shows $268 USD.

Some fancier Chromebooks — like Google’s Pixel line — can cost upwards of $800-$1000 USD. Yes, these systems are much more capable, with more memory, touchscreens and such, but I look at my Chromebook as a cheap laptop alternative that can take a hard life on the road and one I won’t mind replacing if something happens to it. I can replace it cheaply, which is not something that can be said for Apple or Google’s models.

I have been very happy with my Chromebook over the years and I expect that to continue. Each new software update brings new features, higher performance and continued great, functionality. I update you again in a few months.

Specifications

  • 14" Full HD Widescreen IPS WLED-backlit (1920 x 1080) Display, Intel HD Graphics
  • Intel Dual-Core Celeron N3350 Processor 1.1GHz
  • 4GB LPDDR4 Memory, 32GB eMMC Internal Storage
  • Chromebook OS,HD TrueVision Webcam,Headphone/Speaker jack
  • USB 3.1, 802.11,Bluetooth 4.2, No DVD Optical Drive

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