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CNET First Look
$279 HP Chromebook 11 prettier, but very similar to Chromebooks past (hands-on)Google's latest Chromebook gets colors and a sleek design, but its main differences are a slightly improved screen and comfy keyboard.
-I'm Scott Stein and this in front of me is the HP Chromebook 11. Is there a room for a Chromebook in your life? That's the question with the Chromebook equation because Chromebooks have been sneaking their way in as a kind of an experiment turned product over the last few years. And in case you're not entirely certain what a Chromebook is, let's lay it out for you right now. It looks like a laptop but it's not really a laptop. It runs Chrome OS, which is Google's variant of a mostly online-only operating system that's great for your web browser. But if you like offline use and if you like to use a lot of apps it may feel very weird and it doesn't do a lot of file storage [unk] that we're used to on a laptop. It can do all those semi-offline things and sort of file storage things but it really runs for the most part like a super smart web browser with a bunch of apps that feel like browser extensions. That being said, this is a $279 product. Now that sounds pretty affordable for a laptop but if you're looking at tablets, those cost in the budget range around the territory. So what are you gonna buy for your home? The Chromebook has attempted a sort to be a netbook replacement and what's different from previous Chromebooks, well, in a lot of ways. This is more of a design job that something that's completely new under the hood. Each piece, Chromebook 11 is sort of a collaboration with Google and you can tell that it looks a lot more Googly. You've got a white glossy exterior here, lightweight 2 pounds, plastic, color accents; green, yellow, red and blue or you can get all black. And with the plastic design, it's almost kind of like an iPhone 5C of Chromebooks. And under the hood though, you're going back to, well, the limitations of Chromebook. Sixteen gigs of on-board storage, 2 gigs of RAM and then you're dealing with this operating system. There are two USB 2.0 ports, and there is a micro USB charger that's kind of interesting because you could use the same charger to charge your phone or your tablet only take one on the road with you. But it's missing a few ports. It doesn't have SD card slot. It doesn't have HDMI and those were in the last Chromebook in this price range, the Samsung series 3 at $250 no less. Here, this I $279, you're getting a slightly better, improved IPS display that has better viewing angles, brighter. It's 1366x768 but it's not touch and the keyboard is fantastic, it's probably one of the best I've used in this territory but it's not a backlit and the track pad-- it's okay. And the speakers under this keyboard do sound nice and loud and clear. Now what can you install in the Chromebook? I mean, can you put Microsoft Word on it? No. This is-- you're gonna be restricted to what you can load via the Chrome web store, which offers an assortment of apps that really, for the most part, act like web extensions. A few of them launched in their own window and they range in some of the productivity oriented, some are games. But there all kinda feel more like web apps than actual applications of the sort you'd want on the tablet. If you're using this as a pass-around-the-home laptop replacement like a station car to get you on the web and get you off the web and you don't like using a tablet, consider a Chromebook. But if you want [unk] is a true laptop, Chromebooks aren't there yet. And if you're okay for something that's going to have a wide variety of games and fun app experiences, look to Android or iOS before you look to a Chromebook. And I had a feeling these are gonna stick around for a while. The question is, when you gonna wanna buy one? It's getting closer, this doesn't feel like the one yet. I'm Scott Stein and that's a little look at the HP Chromebook 11, now available.