HP Chromebook 14-inch HD Laptop
With the HP Chromebook 14, AMD makes its long-awaited entrance into the HP brands’ world of the Chrome OS, and it is nothing like we expected. If you’re expecting this Chromebook to set your classroom or workspace alight with high-powered performances or a display that will turn heads, then you should probably look elsewhere.
But if you need an internet-ready education-centric device that can work on your spreadsheets and documents, and still provide high-resolution entertainment in equal measure, then you’re in the right place.
For the modest pricing of this laptop, you can consider the middling audio and battery as tradeoffs, and you can always pay extra in exchange for better display configurations with 1080p and IPS panels.
This laptop gets top marks for design and port selection, and bonus points for the durability of the build, but the jury is still out on every other thing, most especially with the performance level.
Design and Appearance
Except for the HP logo embellished in a shiny circle at the center of the lid, as well as the slight caress of a textured finish, there is nothing else in terms of aesthetics to note in the exterior of this laptop. The laptop comes in color choices of Ink Blue (with black surround), Chalkboard Gray, or Snow White. And the textured finish also serves to enhance grip for people that can deal with 3.4 pounds of heft on their hands. The lid can be easily flipped right up to the 180-degree mark with the help of a hinge that is both flexible and sturdy in all the right places.
With a thickness of 0.7 inches, this laptop will not exactly cut the mustard for a place in the portable 14″ Chromebook hall of fame. While the chassis is of a plastic build, the keyboard deck can front for an aluminum make, and this is even more apparent when you get a feel of its smooth and flat surface.
HP also bills this laptop as MIL-STD-810G certified, meaning that it can come out unscathed from a bout of extreme weather conditions, and from the clutter of classrooms. There’s even more, an IP41 rating also translates to a capacity to resist the seepage of spills into the interior.
And when this laptop scratches against any surface that is not overly abrasive, the exterior finish will sweep the scratch marks under the radar, the same goes for fingerprints.
Ports and Connection
This laptop is outfitted with a USB 3.1 Type-C port and a USB 2.0 Type-A port on either edge of the keyboard. While the former will serve as a means for data transfer, charging, or connection to external displays via a DisplayPort dongle, the latter ensures that you can connect to a host of device peripherals while steering clear of dongles.
The right edge further hosts an audio jack and a micro SD card slot which will come in handy as the meager base storage provision is used up in no time.
A Wi-fi 5 and Bluetooth 4.2 provision is the in-house go-to for wireless connectivity. They are both far from leading-edge tech but will suffice for a more than standard Chromebook-grade browsing experience.
Keyboard and Input devices
Users of this laptop will not exactly rub their hands together at the thought of typing on its keyboard. The keys are well spaced and full-sized in their Island-style layout, and the keystroke is registered at the snap of a finger. But it is hard to put a finger to the clatter of feedback that results from clicks, and that is despite the somewhat cushiony feel of the keys.
And although our test unit is not fixed with a backlight provision, a version of this laptop with a backlight option is available for purchase, albeit at a slightly higher price. The keyboard is also rigged for spill resistance, fitting for the rigors and the hazards of lab room work.
For starters, the plastic surface touchpad is generously sized, providing ample navigation space for your fingers to roam about. It is not nearly as smooth as most people will like, but its sensitivity will rub off on the prompt and precision of the cursor movement, as well as on the speed with which the output is delivered.
An expanse of speaker grilles stretches out just above the keyboard and across its entire length. The speakers are powered by the popular Bang & Olufsen Brand, which should ordinarily speak volumes about their impact, on paper at least. In reality, the sounds that emerge from this laptop are not remotely spectacular.
The bass is basic, the mids are barely there, and even the volume is not loud enough for your songs to be heard from across the room, even at full blast. The audio from this laptop will not move you, simply put.
With the array of display configurations that various models of this laptop come with, you get to choose between the washy and the punchy in terms of color and clarity. For a lesser fee, the HD display option comes in choices of touch or non-touch screens, none of which will thrill its viewers by any stretch of the imagination. With a resolution of 1366 x 768 pixels, the visuals that are displayed will appear slightly subdued. And without the variety of viewing angles that IPS panels enjoy, viewers will have to endure the gradual fade away of the brightness at extreme viewing angles.
It gets better with the more superior display configurations, some of which incorporate a Full HD display on an IPS panel. These iterations will bump the price upwards, as well as the quality of the output too, although the leap is not exactly a massive one. You get a more vibrant display that will give you something remotely similar to what is obtainable from the 178-degree visibility of other higher-end laptops.
It is in outdoor surroundings that the caveat lies. The lack of an anti-glare provision on the screen will leave it susceptible to the dampening impact of reflection from intensive light sources, as with sunlight.
Other than that, the display is good for content consumption, over the web, and anywhere else. The constant features of all of these display configurations are the slightly chunky top and bottom bezels, the matte screen finish, and the above-average coverage of the sRGB gamut which should count for something.
Graphics and Gaming
The AMD Radeon R4 chip employed in this laptop is on the low-end of things graphics, so it is best to lower your expectations before you settle down to any sort of computing task that requires serious graphics power application. The numbers do not exactly make for impressive stats, 800 MHz for clock speed, 128 shading units, and 8 texture mapping units, barely enough fuel to drive this laptop to meet up with the requirements of a majority of graphic demanding apps and games.
As is almost always the case with Chromebooks, the Android Play Store will always pop up with just the right fit for you in device-compatible games and apps, as will a web-based app.
Still, the chances of getting a compatible app that can edit your photos or create graphic content with the full complement of shaders and special effects are very slim, Pixlr and SketchPort come to mind.
For gamers, if you’re down for some Spelunky or Sonic and the hedgehog, then you’ll be good to go. The laptop will plod through gaming sessions with titles like Among Us or Alto’s Odyssey, while AAA games like Doom Eternal and Borderlands will be too much of an ask.
Battery life is pretty much regular with this laptop, we have seen better on similarly sized and priced laptops, but we have also seen a whole lot worse. On a single charge, you should be able to draw about 9.15 hours of runtime from this laptop with casual use.
The AMD processors plugging away at the interior are not exactly rated for energy efficiency, but neither do they exert a significant strain on battery life.
Cooling and Noise Emission
As this laptop is not fitted with a fan, it does seem to leave it vulnerable at times, and the AMD chips are not exactly the coolest cats in the room.
At the height of intense computing, especially with serious multitasking, the bottom of the laptop can get a little warm on occasions, even tethering on the comfort thresholds in the worst-case scenario. But these occasions are very few and far between, and the storm is over pretty quickly as the clock speeds automatically adjust in response, giving the system some relief and respite.
AMD makes its debut into the HP Chromebook scene with the dual-core A4-9120C processor, and it is not exactly the grand entrance that many had keenly anticipated. This processor integrates the Radeon R4 graphics into its chipset, another one that misses the mark. And with 4GB DDR4-1866 SDRAM and 32GB eMMC storage to work with, this laptop does not provide the requisite props to stage a high-powered performance in any computing task that it is engaged in.
For routine system tasks like web browsing, emailing, or working on documents, the HP Chromebook will be mostly equal to the task, with a base clock of 2.2GHz and a boost of up to 2.5GHz putting in the work. Step up a notch higher to some photo-editing or streaming of videos in high resolution and you start to see red flags waving slowly at you. Throw in an Android app like slack or Spotify in the mix and you get to a dead end. To put things in perspective, this is not the laptop for serious multitasking.
You may be just fine with a fair amount of Chrome tabs running simultaneously with one or two Android apps. But if you attempt to go one step further by adding video playback to the pile, then this laptop will respond with latency and a fit of stop-starts that will put you off in no time. You can always resort to web-based apps for any of your productivity-inclined tasks, and take up cloud storage if the base storage is clogging up and affecting performance.
The HP Chromebook 14 is a device that falls short of a load of expectations that have been placed on it, what with the heralded entrance of the much-hyped AMD processor into the HP brand’s Chromebook scene. The chip is no game-changer, the system performance has not gotten any significant lift, and battery life has not improved by any stretch. Perhaps the fault lies with HP in promising much, and in equipping this system with halfway decent specs to provide any sort of performance boost.
Elsewhere, the audio is so-so and the display is a mixed bag of vibrant or muted colors, and diverse or limited viewing angles, as per the choice of configuration. All of these should ordinarily be deal-breakers until you place them pound for pound with the price of this laptop, or pound for power with regular computing tasks in the Chromebook-grade frame of reference. Maybe it will then become obvious that this laptop offers great bang for your buck, even if the bang can not be heard from a yard out.
Standing screen display size
Max Screen Resolution
1366 x 768 Pixels
2.2 GHz A-Series Dual-Core A4-9120C
32 GB Flash Memory Solid State
AMD Radeon R4
8.93 x 13.27 x 0.72 inches