It’s been about a year since I started using a laptop full-time to manage my WordPress blog and surf the web. The iPad I used was great…as a tablet. But pushing it to be more caused frustration and disappointment. Why force a tablet to be a laptop when you can just use an actual laptop?
So I bought a Chromebook.
HP Chromebook 14
For a blogger who types a lot, you gotta have a keyboard. iPads are glass slabs without a physical keyboard; laptops have them built-in.
You can use a bluetooth keyboard with an iPad; I tried. But it lacks palm rests and isn’t lappable…unlike laptops! When you type a lot, you notice these things.
I’ve owned different laptops over the years:
- Windows notebooks from Dell and Asus
- A white plastic MacBook designed by Apple in California
- A Samsung Chromebook
But my latest is the best.
My HP Chromebook 14 has a smooth white plastic lid with a mirrored chrome “HP” circle logo in the center. There’s one simple long hinge that holds tightly. The base is a matte silver aluminum, tapering to the front. The clamshell design is sturdy, compact, and lightweight.
Screen-time is easy. The IPS display, despite being 1366×768 across 14 inches, appears bright and even. Text is smooth and mostly sharp without blurred edges; reading isn’t a problem. Watching video is satisfactory. There isn’t any contrast wash-out or discoloration at extreme viewing angles.
The keyboard is a backlit pleasure to type on. Backlighting is an adjustable range from dim to bright. Tapping out letters flows nicely on the quiet tactile keys with just the right amount of downward travel and springy return. They feel neither wobbly nor cheap.
In the year I’ve used it, not one key has ever gotten sticky! The keyboard performs as well today as it did 12 months ago when I removed it from the box.
It’s smooth to the fingertips and works precisely. Two-finger scrolling is a breeze, so is swiping right to go back in the browser. Soft-tapping with one or two fingers never fails.
Pressing the track-pad down makes a nice click sound and has a firm yet soft feel. And you must click from the middle half to the front; the back is the hinge so it doesn’t depress.
The HP Chromebook 14 model I have does not flip the display around into tablet mode. So the touchscreen is convenient for web page scrolling and the occasional icon tap.
Also, as much as I type text, it is sometimes easiest to place the cursor simply by tapping the screen where I want it. Touch input is responsive, and the display does not depress, warp or discolor.
The speakers, by B&O, are upward facing from the top-rear of the base. They truly sound better than you’d expect from a skinny flat mobile computer; they’re the best I’ve heard in a laptop. The sound is very clear and full, lacking bass of course.
Since they face upward from behind the keyboard, you never need to position the laptop carefully so as to not muffle the sound on your lap or couch.
I rarely use the webcam outside of a few Zoom or Google Meet videos. Yet I’ve noticed it has a nice wide viewing angle. And the resolution looks good. It’s not blurry, grainy, or washed-out. And it seems to do well even in dim ambient lighting.
There’s a USB-C port on the left and right side; both allow charging. And it has USB-A on both sides. The right side also has a 3.5mm headphone jack plus a microSD card slot. The only thing missing is an HDMI port. That’s inconvenient; you must use a USB-C adapter if you want to plug into a large monitor or HDTV.
- CPU – Intel Celeron 3350 Dual Core
- Memory – 4GB RAM
- Storage – 64GB eMMC
Those aren’t bad for a Chromebook. And mobile computing on this one is great. Everything works fluidly. Web browsing, of course, is quick and easy. Running Android apps from the Google Play store works well.
One of the greatest features is the 9 to 10 hour solid battery life I get from my HP Chromebook 14. With screen brightness usually around 80%, I finish my blogging work or YouTubing and get tired of sitting or standing long before the battery gets close to being drained. It can go a full day unplugged with moderate usage.
The Chrome operating system works beautifully. It’s still simpler and easier to use than a traditional Windows PC or Mac. I type truck loads of words in Google Docs and other apps, and I manage a mountain of pictures in Google Photos. The only things I don’t do on my Chromebook are CAD, video editing, or PC gaming.
After using the HP Chromebook 14 everyday for over a year, it looks and works as well as the day I bought it! There’s a teeny bit of cosmetic wear and tear, but you must look for it. It travels in my backpack to work everyday as I commute.
There has been one issue with it on the software side, which was a Google cloud sync error between Google Drive and the Files app. The solution was surprisingly quick and easy: Powerwash. I did this on two separate occasions.
Each time, the Chromebook reset like new and kept all my Google account data intact by reinstalling apps and settings. The process took less than 10 minutes. When done, it was like nothing ever happened. All my stuff was there!
Most people only need a browser for most computing. A Chromebook bonus: your Android phone apps also work here!
For mobile computing, my Chromebook is fast, easy, delightful, and reliable.