America is the only country that went from barbarism to decadence without civilisation in between. - Oscar Wilde
TECHNOLOGY GIANTS Google and HP joined forces to launch the HP Chromebook 11 on Wednesday, an 11in notebook running Google's Chrome OS operating system and priced at £229.
This is only HP's second Google Chromebook and its first 11in model. HP's first Chromebook hit the shelves in April, retailing for a slightly higher price of £249. However, the HP Chromebook 14 featured a 14in screen, if you're in the market for a larger laptop.
HP's latest 11in model has a higher resolution screen, a fanless CPU for silent operation, and a microUSB charging port for easier and more accessible recharging.
We visited Google's office today to pick up a review unit, so here's a rundown of our first impressions after unboxing the device.
Build and design
Without trying to sound mean, the best way to describe the HP Chromebook 11's design is perhaps by comparing it to a toy. That's thanks to the glossy white and sea blue chassis design, which seems a little like a children's adaptation of "daddy's laptop".
While its plastic shell means that it looks quite cheap, it's fun looking and at the same time feels sturdy. This is because its plastic chassis is bonded with a magnesium frame, keeping it lightweight but strong at the same time. It is also light and thin considering how robust it feels, measuring 18mm thick and weighing just over 1kg.
The Chromebook 11 has been designed with rounded edges, which Google and HP claim will help wrists remain comfortable while typing. We can see what they mean here, as the smooth-to-the-touch body and curved edges mean it's very pleasant to hold and to rest one's palms on while typing.
We also liked how Google has kept the simplistic multicolour backlit bar on the back of the Chromebook to keep it distinctive compared to more prevalent Windows notebooks.
What really makes the Chromebook 11 unique is that it is charged via a microUSB port, which means that it can be powered from the same mains adapter as many other popular devices, such as most Android smartphones and tablets as well as other types of portable technology.
Google's decision to power its new Chromebook via a standard microUSB connection could be a hint as to the way the notebook industry is going. We spoke with the USB Implementers Forum (USB-IF) at the Intel Developer Forum last month, which said that USB charging standardisation like we saw in smartphones only a few years back will also arrive for notebooks very soon. We can assume that Google is attempting to get ahead of the game here with the HP Chromebook 11.
The MicroUSB charging port is also really handy, as most households probably have a USB cable laying around already, which takes a bit of pressure off those who are prone to losing things.
The HP Chromebook's display has seen a rather generous upgrade since the previous Chromebook, which although bigger at 14in was a bit of a let-down because of its comparably low resolution.
Google seems to have fixed this with the HP Chromebook 11, as it hasn't downgraded the pixel count on the smaller display. This 11in edition has the same 1366x768 resolution as the 14in Chromebook, but it seems much better as the pixels aren't spread out across a larger display.
With 300nits brightness, the HP Chromebook 11's display is clear, vibrant and bright, and it appears bright in direct light, though it's very glossy so it tends to reflect light more than we'd like.
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