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HP Chromebook 14 (with 4G) review: Solid performance in a plus-sized package

JR Raphael | Oct. 24, 2013
The HP Chromebook 14 combines great performance with a spacious display. So is it the right Chromebook for you?

Body and design
The differences between the Chromebook 14 and Chromebook 11 don't end with the display; in fact, despite the fact that both laptops are made by HP, they have little in common when it comes to physical form. The reason is that the Chromebook 11 was designed with close involvement by Google -- the same team responsible for the high-end Chromebook Pixel -- while the Chromebook 14 is an HP product through and through.

Generally speaking, the comparison doesn't reflect favorably on the Chromebook 14. From the visible vents between the top and bottom halves to the prominent screws on its casing, the Chromebook 14 is considerably less elegant and thoughtfully designed than its Google-influenced cousin.

It's all relative, though. By itself, the Chromebook 14 is actually pretty nice for an entry-level system. The laptop comes in your choice of white, soft red or teal (also known as "Snow White," "Peach Choral" and "Turquoise"). The pastel colors won't be everyone's cup of tea, but they work well in this context; I suspect a lot of folks will find them to be an enticing and refreshing change from the drab blacks and grays we're used to seeing on computers.

Low-cost Chromebooks compared
The lid of the laptop is a slightly rubberized plastic material. Standing out from the solid color of its surface is a large centered HP logo that's actually a mirror (for not-so-subtle hair checks) with a full Chrome logo in an upper corner.

The Chromebook 14's color extends onto the bezel surrounding the display. That area has an HD webcam on the top, an HP logo on the bottom and a series of thin rubber bumpers on all four sides.

Whatever color you pick is also present on the large hinge connecting the laptop's halves as well as on the bottom of the machine.

Ports, keyboard and speakers
For anyone who craves connections, the Chromebook 14 has you covered. The system has two USB 3.0 ports, a dedicated HDMI out-port, a 3.5mm headphone jack and a Kensington Security Slot on its left side. The right side of the laptop, meanwhile, houses a DC charging port, an SD card reader, a SIM card slot and a USB 2.0 port.

The Chromebook's color comes up form the bottom and along the computer's perimeter, surrounding all of the ports and continuing just far enough to create a thin border around the entire keyboard area. It's a distinctive and attractive touch.

The Chromebook 14 uses a standard full-sized Chrome OS keyboard that's generally quite good: The keys are large, well spaced and easy to type on. The quality and feel of the keys is lower than what you get on the Chromebook 11, but the tactile response is fine -- all in all, it's a pleasant typing experience.

 

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