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HP Chromebook 11 review: Affordable style for life in the cloud

JR Raphael | Oct. 14, 2013
Google's latest Chromebook brings a fresh look to the Chrome OS universe -- and for $279, the laptop has some interesting things to offer.

Not surprisingly, then, its performance is pretty much in line with its previous-generation counterpart -- which is to say the system does respectably well, up to a certain point. This isn't going to be the fastest computer you've ever used, and if you're a hardcore power user, it probably won't have enough horsepower to keep up with your needs.

For light to moderate usage, though, the Chromebook 11 performs admirably. It powers up in a mere 10 seconds and, once you've signed in, has you online and ready to roll a few seconds later. Even with several tabs and windows open, it hums along effortlessly and does what you need it to do.

Like I said, though, there is a limit. It's one most typical users won't ever encounter, but if you're a freak-geek like me and sometimes end up working with more than 20 tabs open — especially ones with resource-intensive services like Google+ or online image editors— the Chromebook 11 may start to struggle. For those sorts of usage scenarios, you really need a higher-powered system.

But those are uncommon extremes, and even with a fair amount of stuff running, the Chromebook 11 holds its own. As I'm writing this review, for instance, I have 20 tabs open across five different windows. Even with that above-average workload, the system is doing fine: Each window is performing well, and switching tabs is snappy and lag-free. If I refresh a page or open a new tab at this point, things start to take a little longer to load than they should — the signs of my hitting that upper limit I've been discussing.

The Chromebook 11 never sounds like it's working hard, though: With its fan-free processor and solid state drive, the machine is completely silent the entire time you use it. The bottom of the laptop gets ever-so-slightly warm when it's running, but it's barely noticeable— far less than the heat you feel from many laptops (Pixel included).

HP's Chromebook is listed for "up to six hours of active use," which has been more or less in line with what I've experienced. I've actually managed to squeeze a little more use-time out of the system — even with nonstop multitasking-heavy use — but it's remained well within the six- to seven-hour realm.

In terms of networking, the Chromebook 11 supports dual-band Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n and Bluetooth 4.0. An LTE-connected model of the computer is expected to become available at some point soon; specific launch and pricing details for that system have yet to be released.

The Chromebook 11 has 16GB of onboard storage. It also includes 100GB of cloud-based Google Drive storage for two years — an upgrade that'd set you back nearly $120 if you paid for it outright. After the two years elapse, any files you've stored utilizing that space will remain in your account and accessible; you'll just lose any unused space from the allotment unless you choose to renew the subscription.

 

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