on October 27, 2013
First and foremost, if you're looking for something to use as your primary device, go look at something else. This won't cut it if you need a do-everything computer. If that statement doesn't apply to you, then read on:
PROS (there's a lot)
- The price - For less than most tablets, you get a lot more functionality.
- Great design - There are no visible screws, and the glossy white color is reminiscent of the older MacBooks.
- Extremely light - I think it weighs about the same as a MacBook Air, but it feels lighter to me.
- A stunning display - For this price point, I still can't believe how gorgeous it looks.
- Well designed keyboard - Super comfortable to type on and the keys have just the right amount of spring to them.
- Surprisingly loud - The speakers are under the keyboard, meaning you don't get muffled sound. No tinniness either.
- It's built with Chrome - If you already use Chrome, you'll feel right at home. All your favorite things carry over!
- Has two full size USB 2.0 ports. I've plugged in my external hard drive to watch movies and listen to music.
- It charges via micro-USB - Finally, you can use the same charger for both your phone and your laptop!
- Battery life - Even after trying multiple configurations, the most I've been able to get is a little less than five hours.
- Trackpad - I raised the sensitivity to the max setting, and while it helped a lot, it still isn't the best.
- Only 16GB of built in storage - It comes with two years of 100GB of Google Drive storage, but it would have been nice to have a little more on board to have access to some things while not connected to the internet. For those wondering, you don't lose all your things saved to Google Drive after the two years are up, you're just not able to upload any more content unless you start paying for more storage.
Hope this helps those who are on the fence! (Review typed and uploaded on my Chromebook)
I really liked my Chromebook when it worked. I've had to return two of them due to both no longer taking a charge with their charger. If I could return it for a refund I would, but of course it's past 30 days since I purchased it. I'm currently waiting on my third replacement, they say it will take about two weeks to arrive, but haven't given me a date yet. I'm so disappointed and frustrated with the whole situation. I use this laptop for work, and the constant problems have been a serious issue for me.
on October 15, 2013
I will admit, my loyalty to google started with the search engine, solidified with Gmail and the Chrome browser, and went totally all-in with Android. In this context, let me say that I love the Chromebook 11, my first Chromebook, after owning it for just 2 days.
I have put it through it's paces and have to say it is a great alternative to tablets for those prefering the traditional laptop form factor.
Points of discussion:
1-portability. The Chromebook 11 is the perfect size, weight and thickness for travel. Basically a little thicker and heavier than most 10" tablets but not by much.
2-charger. Using a micro-usb charger is a stroke of genius. Rated at 3A, it will charge my Chromebook, my smartphone and my tablet. Huge plus in my book. Certainly better than the power brick most Win laptops come with and many tablets have.
3-screen. This screen compares favorably to my original Nexus 7. It is bright with good viewing angle. It is my better than my full size Gateway laptop, and it is what I consider a "premium" display. Bright, colorful, sharp.
4-sound. Every laptop I've used suffered in sound quality and volume. The Chromebook has passable sound quality but is much louder from the fact that sound emanates through the keyboard. Plenty loud for my purposes. A negative is that sound stutters if the processor is taxed. Unfortunately, this includes any sort of web browsing while you have music playing in the background. I didn't think audio amounted to a huge processor load and wonder if this isn't some glitch that can be fixed--after all, I listen to music and browse all the time with my smartphone.
5-Google. You have to love google or forget it. That means using Chrome, Gmail, Drive, Music, Google Docs etc. If you do already, great. If not, you better jump on board or don't buy this. If you are thinking about making the transition, definitely search the internet for quirks ie. specific file types, workarounds, etc. May not be "doable" for you.
6-Keyboard. Solid chicklet-style keyboard. Fullsize. Definitely better than most $500 laptops out there. I love it.
7-Trackpad. I was always a mouse guy. I immediately paired the Microsoft bluetooth mouse with the Chromebook as soon as I set it up. But this trackpad is easy to use, so much so that I may ditch the mouse. First trackpad that I'm starting to really dig--just after 2 days!
8-Ports. Not a lot. Just 2 USB 2.0 ports. No SD card reader. No HDMI. Not a problem for me since I am used to using Google Drive or a USB thumbdrive.
9-Processing speed. This is not a fast computer. Some webpages take noticeably longer to load. I feel this is the main downside to this laptop.
Bottom line, I considered a high end Ultrabook (namely, the Samsung ATIV Plus or the LENOVO YOGA 2 PRO) but in the end, the Chromebook satisfies 90% of my travel needs, and 100% of my sitting-in-front-of-the-TV-browsing needs. Lastly, I bought my Chromebook 11 from Google Play. After having an issue with my Nexus 7 after 11 months of ownership, I will say that Google customer service is top notch and a pleasure to deal with. Something to think about. I did have to pay tax and shipping though.
on June 21, 2014
I got the HP chromebook 11 to replace a Samsung chromebook because of the micro-USB charging feature. I wanted to be able to charge all electronics I have from one multiple-port USB charger. If you naively use a random micro-USB charger you may have lying around, it may not charge very quickly. This review explains some of the technical details regarding USB charging that I have learned after much research and trial and error. Hopefully, this info is useful to others interested in using a third party USB charger or battery pack.
There are three components that affect the charging: the charger (supplied voltage/current), the USB cable, and the chromebook. We need to first understand what the chromebook does.
The most useful info was obtained by reading the charger source code. In the chromium OS platform/ec git repository, the file of interest to look at is common/extpower_spring.c. First, the type of USB charger is detected by a TI TSU6721 chip. Secondly, based on the detected USB charger, the chromebook figures out the maximum current it will draw, up to the maximum of 2958mA (~3A). Finally, the chromebook starts from a low current and slowly ramps up the current draw until either it reaches the set maximum OR the voltage drops below 4.7V. So to get maximum charging, at a minimum you will need a charger that is detected by the chromebook as one that can support 3A AND that charger must be able to provide 3A while maintaining a voltage greater than 4.7V.
The chromebook handles a variety of charger types. The spec sheet for the TI TSU6721 can be found online and contains useful info about how detection occurs. The only type for which the chromebook sets the current limit to 3A is called a 'Type 1 Charger' in the TSU6721 documentation. A Type 1 Charger has a 200K resistor between the ID and GND pins. This appears to refer to the CEA-936-A (USB Carkit) specification. The next best chargers include some Apple chargers that have limits of 2A and 2.4A. As I have no Apple chargers, I did not figure out which chargers these would be. Probably most common USB chargers are recognized as CDP (charging downstream port) or DCP (dedicated charging port) which have a limit around 1.5A.
From a root shell on the chromebook, running `ectool powerinfo` provides very useful debugging info about the current charger and state. For example, the charger that comes with the chromebook is rated at 5.25V/3A. When running the above command right after plugging in the charger you get:
AC Voltage: 5323 mV
System Voltage: 6873 mV
System Current: 122 mA
System Power: 838 mW
USB Device Type: 0x1b020010
USB Current Limit: 435 mA
If you keep running the command, you would see the current limit increase and the AC Voltage decrease until it reaches maximum current and steady state:
AC Voltage: 5008 mV
System Voltage: 7138 mV
System Current: 1148 mA
System Power: 8194 mW
USB Device Type: 0x1b020010
USB Current Limit: 2958 mA
AC Voltage is the voltage that the chromebook sees and as explained above must stay above 4.7V. The higher starting 5.3V of this charger allows for 300mV drop without charging being stopped. Most USB chargers only provide 5V and there's only a margin of 300mV voltage drop before charging will slow down.
The USB Device Type is the detected USB charger type. The last byte (0x10 above) is the type detected by the TI chip (see I2C register map in the spec sheet, Device Type 1). 0x10 is a Type 1 Charger, 0x40 is a DCP charger.
The next important thing is the USB cable. A random USB cable you have probably uses thin wire (AWG28) which is high resistance and causes substantial voltage drop by itself. The length of the cable is also important. For example 28 gauge wire has 65 mohm/foot resistance. So if you had 3 foot cable, that would be 195 mohm in one direction or 390 mohm total going back and forth from the charger. At just 1A current, that would be a 390 mV drop from the cable itself. So if you had a 5V charger hooked up to this 3 foot USB cable, the voltage would drop below 4.7V and stop charging before you even got to 1A. The official charger probably uses AWG20 wire.
If you plug in every micro-USB cable you have lying around into a > 2A charger and run ectool powerinfo from the chromebook, you can determine which cables are crappy and which are good. The best cables will max out at the chromebook defined 1508mA current limit, whereas bad cables will stop at a lower limit because the AC Voltage drops before 4.7V.
I found that 1.5A is sufficient for maintaining battery charge while using the chromebook, but maybe you want more power. The easiest solution would be to find a commercially available Type 1 Charger USB cable. I have been unable to find one. You can also make your own cable. After trying a variety of combinations, I found the simplest was to get a female micro-USB connector, a male micro-USB connector, a 200K resistor (this is not a common resistor) and make a small adapter. Connect pin 1 of female with pin 1 of male, pin 5 of female with pin 5 of male, and the resistor from pin 5 of female to pin 4 of male. Then you can plug any existing USB cable you have into this adapter to make the chromebook detect it as a Type 1 Charger and then it will try to draw up to 3A.
Finally, the last component is the charger itself. It is not easy to get a charger that can provide 3A from a single port. The popular on Amazon Anker 40W 5-port device supports 8A total but only 2.4A per port. I tested with the PortaPow Crystal 4 port charger that can output 4.2A from a single port.
So in summary, it is relatively easy to get 1.5A. You may be able to get up to 2.4A using some off the shelf Apple chargers which I did not explore. If you want to get as much power as the OEM charger, you will need a high power charger, a heavy duty USB cable, and some soldering skills to add in a 200K resistor.
on October 28, 2013
I've used it 4 times in the last week. Wife has used it once. We were both impressed. We each have a low end HP Windows 7 laptop, and they are both not great. Hesitated buing another HP, but this chromebook had such good reviews, I popped on it anyway. It is NOTHING like our other Windows HPs. Touchpad works great, keyboard easy to use, goes from off to login screen in about 8 or 9 seconds (sometimes takes 5 minutes for our Windows to load if it has to install a bunch of updates), and internet works fast without running through the Windows and McAfee anti-virus crap. YouTube loaded OK with our slower DSL, but Spotify ran like a champ. If we need iTunes, or Excel, we'll turn on our Windows laptops. But if we are just using Pinterest or Facebook or surfing websites, or trying to order a pizza online while the other is driving home (like we often do), then we'll use this machine. 8 second load time vs. 5 minutes is a huge difference when trying to do something simple like just order a pizza. As long as you know, understand, and accept the limitations of the Chromebook, it's a great machine. Wife was amazed by there being no fan on it.
on December 25, 2013
We have 4 Chromebooks in our family. The latest Samsung model, an Acer C720 4GB and C720 2GB, and this HP Chromebook 11. The HP is tops in build quality, sound, and keyboard, and the IPS screen dominates the other current offering's TN panels. However, it's performance is nowhere near the standard being set by the Haswell chipped models. So why would you buy this over the others?
The build quality is really good compared to the other Chromebooks. Very solid body; although I wish the display / lid was a bit more rigid and the finish not so glossy (really shows fingerprints). Excellent keyboard. None of the other Chromebooks we own is as nice to type on. The Samsung has nice keys, but these are much better; nice size / spacing and very quiet. Excellent speakers. If you rely on on-board sound you will really enjoy the performance of the HP's top firing, under keyboard speakers. And of course, the display. The IPS screen is clear and bright, the colors are so much more natural than the Samsung or the Acers, and the viewing angles are stellar as well. Only the $1300 Pixel has better screen in a Chromebook. If you can live with the lower performance of this Chromebook you will certianly be satisfied with the machine as a whole. As long as you aren't opening tons of tabs at the same time it should work well. My daughter uses this HP at college and she really loves it. She notes that it streams Netflix and Hulu Plus really good for her, and that using Google Drive/Document and her cloud printer has worked really well. The only complaint she has is with the charge times, and I have noticed this too. Where many have praised the ability to charge with any Micro USB wire, charging is slow. Even with the original charger (the recalled model that came with it) the charging was not as fast as the the Acers or the Samsung. And if you try to charge this with the charger supplied with your smart phone it will take an even longer time and you will not be able to charge while you use it (the battery will still drain).
Some additional observations. The lack of an SD card slot, and no USB 3 may be an issue for some, and no HDMI makes extending the screen a bit more difficult. Yes the Micro USB is Slim Port capable, but you can't charge and extend the screen at the same time. The 16GB drive is small, but if you have transitioned to working in the cloud this shouldn't be an issue. Still, even with a 100GB Google Drive account, I swapped out the SSD in my C720 for a 128GB unit and ended up with over 100 GB of local drive space. As for the trackpad. I really like the size and feel of it, but it can be a little jumpy sometimes. Still it is generally smooth, quiet, and the clicker works well. The Bluetooth works good with my Bose Soundlink Mini, and I have even hooked up my Nuforce Icon DAC via USB. The Chromebooks all recognize the DAC and it sounds great with music played through Google Play.
I give it 4 stars for the build, stellar screen, and cost to value. The speed is adequate, but it lags with a lot of websites; Facebook being the one I notice the most. My ideal Chromebook would have the screen, sound, and keyboard of the HP 11 with the performance of the Haswell machines. One should also consider that with the popularity of the Chromebooks growing, additional manufacturers like Dell getting into the game, and the certainty that there will be a whole new crop of new and improved machines coming in the very near future, this machine may be outdated sooner than later. Still, it is an excellent Chromebook.
on April 6, 2014
I ordered this chromebook after doing some research on them and learning their place in the tech world. Overall, I was impressed by the design and build quality initially, and after a month or so with the chromebook I still really enjoy it and am glad I made the purchase. For the price this is a great machine.
First thing you should know if that this is a Chromebook. It is not what you might expect from a regular laptop. Basically everything operates off an internet connection and your google account. Don't get me wrong there are definitely things that you can do offline and some of the Google apps work offline now, but the expect to get the most use out of this computer when connected to the internet. For me, having a portable wi-fi connection device is necessary. You could also use your phone as a hotspot if you have that option.
This computer is ultra-light and ultra-portable. The screen is so vivid, I was truly impressed by picture quality. All in all I am loving this HP Chromebook 11. So long as you understand the intent of a Chromebook I think this one is a GREAT option.
on June 4, 2014
I went from loving this thing to hating it intensely in a very short time. This review covers the hardware itself, not Chrome OS. Chrome OS is great, and I think it's a wonderful OS for home use. In short, if you want a Chromebook, you can find a better device than this one.
The biggest issue I found was that when I opened the lid after 30+ minutes of no use, the machine would turn back on, but the display wouldn't. For example, if I had been previously listening to music when I closed the lid, the music would come back on, but the display would be totally off, even after opening & closing multiple times, pressing the brightness keys, or tapping the power button quickly. Each time I would have to force shutdown the device and then power it back on, which was always a very slow startup.
Another major issue was with the power charger. This device uses a micro USB charger, which at first seems great because hey I have tons of Micro USB cords! Maybe I could even charge my Chromebook in my car! Right? Wrong. Unfortunately only the Chromebook's charger will work as normal micro USB chargers (e.g. for phones) are too "low power", as the message that pops up says when I plug it in. Also, the physical connection itself is flimsy and janky. Inexplicably, sometimes when I connected the charger the machine simply wouldn't charge... at all, with the indicator light remaining off.
About me: I'm a software developer and I've been using computers since I was 10 years old.
on May 29, 2014
We've only had this for a couple of months and have had problems. The charge stopped working consistently after only a month or two. Sometimes we have trouble getting it to turn on. I was very disappointed. :-( Get a different Chromebook. We had the cheap Acer one before and it worked better than this one. We only needed to replace because we were rough on it and dropped it a few times.
on May 31, 2014
I really liked and want to give 5 star if I could but wanted to make sure folks are aware that even with newly issued battery charger there are issues with the charging system. If the battery drains completely it doesn't charge again and many a times needs to be sent back for repairs. Please search the Chromebook 11 support forum for the issue to learn more about it.