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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?

Recessed in the large silver plastic area beneath the keyboard is a button-free trackpad. I've found it to be fairly accurate and responsive, but lower in quality than the pad on the Chromebook 11. The difference is most detectable when you're performing tasks that require fine control or ongoing pressure, like the selection of a large block of text.

The Chromebook 14 has two small speaker grilles on either side of the bottom surface. They're positioned in an area where the surface begins to slope upward, however, and consequently manage to deliver clear and unmuffled audio. The sound quality is decent, though not great; music played from the Chromebook 14 is discernibly tinnier and less full-sounding than what you get from the Chromebook 11's excellent keyboard-dwelling speakers.

Performance, storage and networking
The 4G model of HP's Chromebook 14 has the same under-the-hood setup as Acer's C720 Chromebook: a 1.4GHz dual-core Intel Celeron 2955U processor along with 4GB of RAM.

Not surprisingly, then, the Chromebook 14's performance is more or less identical to what I experienced on the Acer device: Web pages load quickly and switching between tabs is satisfyingly swift. Things aren't quite as zippy as what you get with the $1,300 Chromebook Pixel, but even with upwards of 20 tabs open, the system never feels like it's struggling to keep up.

(It's worth emphasizing again that these observations are specific to the 4G model of the Chromebook 14. The upcoming $299 Wi-Fi model is slated to have 2GB of RAM instead of 4GB and will presumably have less impressive performance as a result.)

The Chromebook 14 does emit a noticeable hum while it runs -- a contrast to the dead-silent ARM-based setup of the Chromebook 11. It gets slightly warm during use, too, which you'll be aware of when you hold the computer on your lap. The heat is more than what the Chromebook 11 emits but less than what the Pixel tends to produce.

Thanks to its energy-efficient Haswell-based architecture, the Chromebook 14 is a real champ in the realm of battery life. The laptop promises "up to 9.5 hours of active use" -- I've been experiencing closer to 8 or 8.5 hours, especially when heavy multitasking is involved, but that's still an impressive amount of time for a laptop this size to stay alive.

Like most low-cost Chrome OS devices, the Chromebook 14 gives you a 16GB solid-state drive along with 100GB of cloud-based Google Drive storage for two years. It also includes 12 free sessions of GoGo Inflight Internet service and a 60-day subscription to Google Play Music All Access.

The Chromebook 14 supports Bluetooth 4.0 and 802.11 a/b/g/n Wi-Fi connectivity. It's capable of connecting to T-Mobile's LTE and HSPA+ 4G networks, too, provided those networks are available in your area.

 

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