HP Pavilion 14 Chromebook review

30 May 2013

HP’s Chromebook debut is desperately disappointing, with insipid hardware failing to bring anything worthwhile to the market

Price when reviewed: 
250(£250 inc VAT)
2

HP has taken its own sweet time to enter the Chromebook fray, but it certainly hasn’t spent the intervening years perfecting the Pavilion 14 Chromebook.

This is, to be brutal, one of the least charming cocktails of plastic and silicon we’ve ever had the displeasure to review. The casing is made of a glittery black plastic that looks as it’s been salvaged from a refurbishment at Stringfellows; the textured trackpad is equally unappealing, with a pair of buttons that depress with an audible clunk; but the real refund-grabber is the keyboard.

The keys are about as well sprung as the mattress in a cheap hotel, disappearing under the finger with nothing more than a tinny rattle to let you know they’re there. The keys are well spaced, and the Chrome shortcut keys are handy, but there’s no pleasure to be derived from working on a device as perfunctory as this.

HP’s budget hasn’t been frittered away on the screen, either. The 14in display boasts a bog-standard 1,366 x 768 resolution, and an unremarkable top brightness of 226cd/m[sup]2[/sup], but it’s the measured contrast ratio of only 207:1, the flat colour palette and glossy finish that really kills its appeal.

HP Pavilion 14 Chromebook

Things are little better on the inside. A 1.1GHz Celeron 847 processor keeps things chuntering along, and a generous helping of 4GB of RAM propels the Pavilion 14 to a SunSpider benchmark score of 628ms – a little slower than the Acer C7, which is equipped with 2GB. It copes with HD streams on iPlayer and YouTube, but the experience isn’t exactly mesmerising on the washed-out screen. There’s a mere 16GB of SSD storage available, whereas the cheaper Acer C7 managed to squeeze in a 320GB hard disk, although that’s partly offset by a free, two-year helping of 100GB Google Drive space and an SD card slot on the right flank.

HP Pavilion 14 Chromebook

Connectivity finally delivers a tick in the box. Three USB 2 ports, a full-size HDMI output and an Ethernet socket make it easy to hook a keyboard, mouse and monitor to the Pavilion 14 and counteract some of its deficiencies. The Pavilion 14 also has a removable battery, for those who like to carry spares with them, which might be wise given that we managed to chew through the battery in less than four hours of basic surfing and media playback. The internal Altec Lansing-branded speakers are adequate, but you’ll be reaching for the headphones for any extended period of music listening.

All told, we’re not sure why HP bothered to make its belated entrance into the Chromebook market with something as humdrum as this. The build quality is abject, the specification is unexceptional and a £50 premium over the (admittedly smaller) 11.6in Acer C7 leaves nothing for bargain hunters to chase after. It’s back to the drawing board – and don’t leave it as long next time.

Details

Price ex VAT £208
Price inc VAT £250
Overall rating 2
Features & Design 2
Value for Money 2
Performance 3

Warranty

Warranty 1 yr return to base

Physical specifications

Dimensions 350 x 235 x 20mm (WDH)
Weight 1.700kg
Travelling weight 2.1kg

Processor and memory

Processor Intel Celeron 847
RAM capacity 4.00GB

Screen and video

Screen size 14.0in
Resolution screen horizontal 1,366
Resolution screen vertical 768
Resolution 1366 x 768
Graphics chipset Intel HD Graphics
HDMI outputs 1

Drives

Replacement battery price inc VAT £0

Networking

Wired adapter speed 1,000Mbits/sec
802.11a support yes
802.11b support yes
802.11g support yes
802.11 draft-n support yes
Integrated 3G adapter no

Other Features

USB ports (downstream) 3
3.5mm audio jacks 1
SD card reader yes
Pointing device type Touchpad

Operating system and software

Operating system Google Chrome OS
OS family Chrome OS