Chromebooks gained in popularity over the past couple of years for remote learning and work. Record numbers of them were sold during the pandemic (though shipments are slowing down). HP, one of the top makers of Chromebooks, dialed back its focus on the category in the second half of 2021 but also branched out with a Chromebook tablet and an all-in-one Chrome desktop, the HP Chromebase AiO 22.
Most Chromebases are made for commercial use and their designs are fairly uninspired -- fine for an office or in a store but nothing you'd want in a kitchen or living room. The HP Chromebase AiO 22, on the other hand, looks like it could be part of Google's own Nest Hub smart display line. Like a Chromebook, the Chromebase has Google Assitant baked in, so you can use it like a Nest Hub, too. But since it's running on Chrome OS and can be configured with up to an Intel Core i3-10110U processor, up to 16GB of memory and up to a 256GB PCIe NVMe SSD, it does so much more than a Nest Hub.
- Beautiful design
- Swivel touchscreen with USI pen support
- Excellent audio, webcam
- Reasonably priced
- Dongle or dock needed for Ethernet, HDMI or memory card reader
The HP Chromebase starts at $590 in the US but it runs on a lowly Intel Pentium Gold and 4GB of memory. It's £600 in the UK and, although it's not currently available in Australia, the price converts to roughly AU$1,060. The configuration should be fine for basics like web browsing, simple productivity tasks or streaming music or video. I would recommend at least bumping up to the Core i3 processor, though. It brings the price up to $660 but will make the device better for multitasking and the memory and storage can be added to later. The configuration I tested is maxed out for $770, though it regularly goes on sale for much less.
HP Chromebase AiO 22 Desktop
|Price as reviewed||$770|
|Display size/resolution||21.5-inch, 1,920x1,080-pixel touch display|
|Processor||2.1GHz Intel Core i3-10110U|
|Memory||16GB DDR4-2666 SDRAM (2 x 8GB)|
|Graphics||128MB Integrated Intel UHD Graphics|
|Storage||256GB PCIe NVMe M.2 SSD|
|Ports||USB-C (x2, 3.1 Gen 1), USB-A (x2, USB 3.1 Gen 2), audio/mic jack|
|Networking||802.11ax (Wi-Fi 6, Bluetooth 5.0)|
|Operating system||Chrome OS/Android|
|Weight||15.4 pounds (7 kg)|
The Chromebase was announced last August and will continue to get updates until June 2028. It does have an older processor in it. However, Chrome OS isn't as demanding as Windows so an older chip is less of a concern and I didn't experience any stuttering or sluggish behavior. It's designed to be a simple Chrome desktop for the family and it nails that. That said, if you want better performance for working with pictures, video or graphics or more advanced PC gaming with Steam, you'll have to wait and see if the next-gen model offers at least an 11th-gen Core i5 processor. And if you want to run Windows or Windows-specific software, you can't do that with the HP Chromebase.
The centerpiece of the HP Chromebase is the 21.5-inch full-HD touchscreen that can tilt up 20 degrees and rotate 90 degrees. It's designed so as not to tip over accidentally and it never felt unstable. A 5-megapixel webcam is built into the display, so it's a good option for group video chats for work, school, family or friends. It even has a privacy shutter to block the camera and the microphones as well if you want.
The built-in speakers deliver loud and clear audio with a respectable amount of bass -- great for videos, music and gaming. It's not as mobile as a laptop, of course, but at 15 pounds it's easy enough to unplug and move to another room. For example, setting it up on a kitchen counter to watch a cooking video or follow a recipe while video chatting with a friend isn't a problem. It's actually pretty compact, all things considered, and moving it back to your desk when you're done is a snap, too.
There's a volume rocker on the right side of the cone-shaped base. HP separated it from the power button, which is on the back of the cone with the ports. Putting the ports in the back makes it so cords stay somewhat hidden, but why hide the power button? It's easy enough to find by feel, though.
The Chromebase comes up short on ports for a desktop, even compared with HP's own budget-friendly Windows all-in-ones. There's no memory card reader, HDMI out or Ethernet. The two USB-C ports do support data and video out, however, so a dock or dongle can give it expansion options. Swivel the HP Chromebase's display 90 degrees vertically and attach a secondary horizontal external display and it becomes a pretty great productivity setup.
The HP Chromebase AiO 22 is overall excellent. I wish it had existed at the beginning of the pandemic because it would have made schoolwork for my kids at home so much easier. The size is great: big enough to make it easy to work with documents side by side but not so big that it can't easily be moved from room to room as needed. It's also reasonably priced for the quality and components. Those who want greater mobility should consider Acer's 17-inch Chromebook instead. But if you want a simple family computer that everyone can use -- and you don't need Windows software -- this would be a good choice.