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HP Chromebook 11 review

Verdict

A remarkably accomplished piece of hardware for the price; it's our new Chromebook of choice

Review Date: 19 Sep 2014

Reviewed By: Stuart Andrews

Price when reviewed: £191 (£229 inc VAT)

Buy it now for: £185
(see more store prices)

Overall Rating
5 stars out of 6

Features & Design
5 stars out of 6

Value for Money
6 stars out of 6

Performance
4 stars out of 6

PCPRO Recommended

It isn't the fastest nor the longest-lasting Chromebook, but you won't find a more usable laptop elsewhere at anywhere near this price

There were several strong contenders for the top spot this month. Google's Chromebook Pixel is a fantastic piece of hardware; the Asus Chromebook C200 has incredible battery life; and the Samsung Chromebook 2 13.3in has a large, high-resolution screen. All three have their weaknesses, however, be it price, ergonomics or performance. Ask us which Chromebook we'd actually buy for ourselves and we'd have to pick the HP Chromebook 11.

In some ways, it's an unlikely champion. Take performance: like most Chromebooks, the HP feels perfectly snappy when running Google's office apps or browsing the web, and even ran Full HD video from YouTube and Google Play Movies without a glitch.

Inside, however, there's a lowly 1.7GHz Samsung Exynos 5 Dual 5250 processor, which proved slower in our benchmarks than the Asus Chromebook C200, with its 2.4GHz Bay Trail Celeron processor, and even the Samsung Chromebook 2 13.3in with its 2GHz Exynos 5 Octa 5800. If you leave a lot of tabs open while you're surfing, or run more demanding games, it quickly begins to struggle. If you see yourself as a power user, then a £190 Chromebook may not be for you.

It's a similar story with battery life. Away from the mains, the Chromebook 11 was able to play back 5hrs 10mins of looping 720p HD video before giving up; the Asus Chromebook C200 lasted for 9hrs 17mins.

Connectivity has something of a bare-minimum feel to it. The Chromebook 11 has only two USB 2 ports, with no USB 3, and the only video output is a micro-USB port that doubles as the power socket and a SlimPort output. We like the idea of a laptop that charges via micro-USB – even if the compact charger takes four hours to do it – but doing it this way means you can't charge the Chromebook 11 and output to a monitor at the same time.

HP Chromebook 11 review: build quality

So why does the HP get our vote? A large part of it is down to design: it looks beautiful, and feels it too. At only 1kg it's incredibly sleek and light, yet the nicely curved polycarbonate chassis feels impressively tough. There isn't too much flex in the lid, the hinge is smooth and feels robust, and the thick, rubbery pads at the bottom – colour matched to the keyboard – do a great job of stopping the Chromebook 11 from bouncing round on the desk as you type, or slipping off your lap. There are laptops at twice the price that don't look or feel this good.

HP Chromebook 11

The Chromebook 11 also punches well above its weight when it comes to ergonomics. The keyboard stretches most of the way across the Chromebook's width, presenting large, flat keys in a well-spaced layout: only the cursor and function keys are shrunk to half-height. The typing action is lightweight without being floppy, and the touchpad is unusually wide for an 11.6in laptop; its lightly textured surface is responsive and accurate, making websites easy to navigate and gestures simple to pull off. All told, the Chromebook 11 is one of the sweetest small-screen laptops around, regardless of OS.

HP Chromebook 11 review: the display

The Chromebook 11's biggest attraction, however, has to be its screen. The resolution is only a bog-standard 1,366 x 768, but in this compact 11.6in form factor that translates to a respectably sharp image. What's more, it's an IPS panel, something we wouldn't normally expect at this price. We measured its maximum brightness at 316cd/m2, far in advance of any other Chromebook save for the Google Chromebook Pixel. Photos and videos pack a real punch, with vibrant colour reproduction and wide viewing angles. It's proof that resolution isn't the be-all and end-all: given the choice between a drab Full HD screen and this little beauty, we'd take the hit on pixel density every time.

HP Chromebook 11 review: verdict

At its launch, the Chromebook 11 was already a bargain at £229; now you can easily find it for £190, making it irresistible. To be sure, there are compromises, notably on speed and longevity – we'd love to see a model with a Bay Trail or Haswell processor and a longer-lasting battery. But even as it stands, the HP Chromebook 11's display, keyboard, trackpad and comfortable, lightweight design make it a joy to use. Whether you share it with the family or use it in your business, this is a brilliant Chromebook at an almost unbelievable price.

Author: Stuart Andrews

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User comments

No

-A low res 1366x768
-Keyboard flex
-4 hours, ish, of battery life
-HD playback stutters
-16GB storage

"resolution is absolutely spot on for a device of this size." - Nearly EVERY single windows review blasts the machine for having 1366x768!

"Overall, we’re smitten with the Chromebook 11" - Eh?

All in all it's a pretty poor machine and if it featured windows it REALLY would not receive such a review. Even the price is a bit too much really. That, of course, is only my opinion and they do differ so fair enough. It just seems that these things are being pushed for absolutely no reason at all.

By rhythm on 16 Oct 2013

Sick of it

I'm posting using Opera 12.16 and clicked submit ONCE yet it's been posted 3 times.

By rhythm on 16 Oct 2013

Four times, but who's counting ;-)

Agreed though, Windows machines are slated for that resolution.

By everton2004 on 16 Oct 2013

@rhythm

It's NOT a Windows machine, why keep saying it would be slated if it were? It's a £200 machine for using a web browser.

It's easily a good enough screen for what is essentially a web browser. The 16GB storage is fine for what is essentially a web browser. The lack of HD playback (given the screen size) is fine for what is essentially a web browser.

You get my point...

By The_Scrote on 17 Oct 2013

Bog Windows Laptop is no better

Try finding a bog standard windows laptop better than 1366x768!
I can buy one of these and a Nexus 7 for the price of a low-end laptop.

By milliganp on 17 Oct 2013

Recommended?

I'm stunned.

As @The_Scrote clearly points out; it's just a web browser. Don't I already have one of these on my desktop, laptop, netbook, tablet and phone?

@Barry, Have you bought one of these out of your net pay packet?

By stephen_d_morris on 17 Oct 2013

Reasonable comparison?

Just did a search on the Insight website. The cheapest laptop device with a full HD display is £740 and 191 out of 220 non-ultrabooks are 1366x768. So complaining abour screen res is pointless.
This device is the same price as a low end 10" tablet with similar functionality plus a keyboard. It's another way of getting the job done.

By milliganp on 17 Oct 2013

@rhythm

My wife's similarly priced HP laptop with Windows takes 5 minutes to boot. This takes a couple of seconds. This is also highly resistant to viruses by virtue of its simplicity. It is the perfect machine for the less computer literate.

Also don't forget that screen quality is not just about resolution. I wouldn't tolerate this on a 15" laptop, but on an 11" it is fine . All the reviews I have read were very complimentary about the quality of the screen relative to other laptops at the same price.

Clearly the sacrifices here are the processor, battery and storage, which are adequate for its intended use but no more.

By tirons1 on 17 Oct 2013

For all those who hate the Chromebook

If you want any of the following:
1. A screen of dazzling brightness with retina-beating pixel density;
2. A cpu and graphics capability future-proofed to play all games at maximum frame p.s. for the next 10 years;
3. A capacious hard drive;
4. An SD card slot;
5. The Apple OS and app store, or full-fat Windows, or even Android;
6. The opportunity to add new components, software, drivers etc.

- then don't buy a Chromebook.

It seems as if some criticise the Chromebook for what it isn't rather than what it is.

I've owned the Samsung Chromebook for nearly a year now. I don't use it much at home, but when away from home, it's so much lighter and easier to use than a laptop. The keyboard is excellent and the Google Chrome apps, particularly the Google Office suite, work very well. You are working within the browser, of course, but you soon forget that. If you need to write, then a tablet - even one with a Bluetooth keyboard - just doesn't cut the mustard. And of course, for using the internet it's quick, responsive and easy to use and, again, easier to use than a tablet.

Personally, I think the Chromebook is a very compelling way of using a computer - no worries about incompatible drivers, slow boot-up times, dodgy software, viruses, Trojans, malware, inexplicable slowdowns, thrashing drives or breakdowns - and it just works reliably.

With the Chromebook, you have a vision of how computing might work in future, where the working of the operating system and how it interacts with applications are entirely hidden from the computing consumer. In a way, this is a bit like modern cars which diagnose their own faults so specialist fitters can replace sealed components. There will always be those who yearn for the days when we tinkered with car engines, just as there are those who would still like to get their hands dirty with programming code, registry editing and the like.

By lfstone on 17 Oct 2013

Feedback

@Rhythm - I can't recall us criticising an 11in laptop for only having a 1,366 x 768 display. We'll certainly criticise larger Windows laptops for a limited resolution, but not at that size.

@The_Scrote For many people, a web browser is all they need. You may already have one - we're not forcing you to buy a Chromebook. But for people with lightweight browsing needs, who want a device with a great screen, decent keyboard and excellent build quality, this hits the spot.

Barry Collins
Editor

By Barry_Collins on 17 Oct 2013

If it was a windows machine...

The fonts on 11" 1,366 x 768 would end up being far too small to read. I had Acer netbook with 12" screen with same resolution and changing Windows 8 DPI settings didn't help as everything would look...well, strange. After a few months of using it, I sold it on eBay.

Linux, Mac and Chrome OS seems to scale better on any resolution whilst keeping the test easy and clear to read, something that Windows do not manage well.

However, Chromebook's biggest problem is a lack of support from Skype or ooVoo.

By barnettgs on 17 Oct 2013

A solution in search of a problem

At the risk of repetition, the problem with Chrome(books) is that they bring very litte innovation to the party.

Chrome,despite Google's previous bleatings about the "post PC world" is developing into (taa daaa!) a proper "PC" Operating System; with local Files and everything.

Whilst I've no objection to that per se, it does rather undermine the original raison d'etre of he devices. The value proposition is similar to that of Netbooks, but without Windows Application compatibility.
If you just want a device to run a browser, what's wrong with Android? A cheapo Tablet offers nearly as much, for half the price.

If you want to compete with Windows on the desktop, which is what this seems to be doing, then it's woefully underpowered and devoid of software.

Sorry, but I still don't really se the point....

By wittgenfrog on 17 Oct 2013

Better than Samsung Chromebooks?!?

I'm a bit surprised that this would be considered better than a Samsung Series 3 or Series 5 Chromebook and I would be grateful to hear your specific reasoning in this respect?

By rlucey on 17 Oct 2013

@tirons1

"My wife's similarly priced HP laptop with Windows takes 5 minutes to boot."

You might want to get someone to have a look at that. Does she have Chrome, iTunes, java, Acrobat and a whole lot more installed? Probably.

P.s. NEVER run as full admin on a machine but, saying that, everyone does. Maybe PC Pro could create an article about that? You simply create two accounts, for example: Security and family. Security has full admin with password. Family is a standard account with no admin facilities. Raise UAC to the max level etc.

Done. A safer machine. Or you can buy a chromebook and throw away money instead of learning?

By rhythm on 17 Oct 2013

P.s.

When a Windows machine hits, which you can now see with the current Windows tablets, posters complain that they're shipping with ONLY 32gb of space? With a bit of thought you can EASILY get 15gb of free space but no... you read the same negative posts again and again.

These Android machines seem to be getting a FREE pass with all the excuses known to man. At the end of the day we all KNOW that if they could get away with it they would cost more, the same as a Windows laptop or more expensive than they are now.

At the end of the day, being honest, there is nothing really WRONG with the HP Chromebook 11 but compared to a cheap windows machine it, in my opinion, does not stand on its feet. Sorry. All the excuses, it's a browser' simply do not add up. Don't YOU want the option to DO MORE?! Why limit yourself? Why? if you MUST be different then install Ubuntu on a standard Windows machine?

By rhythm on 17 Oct 2013

Real life case

I posted this on the "First Look" at this machine and feel it's relevant again here. Sorry if you already read it ...

I just bought one of these Chromebooks (the Samsung Series 5) for my seriously computer-challenged friends who had been using a Windows machine until it gave up the motherboard ghost.

When I asked if they had ever installed any programs on it, they replied “Yes, Hotmail … oh, and Ryanair!” In fact, they had never used their previous laptop for anything other than accessing web sites. That covered ALL their needs.

WIndows just really worried them with all its updates and virus issues etc etc.


They are as happy as Larry with their new Chromebook. It came with full on-screen instructions on how to use it, it switches on instantly and it’s seriously quick browsing.


I had to swallow hard to recommend anything Google, but looking at it from their point of view, I could see this was EXACTLY what they needed – and probably millions of others, too. It’s a fast tablet with a keyboard, it’s a computer without the hassle.


I was impressed, despite myself, and I would heartily recommend it, as Paul Ockenden said on the other article, to that general audience who really, really do need nothing more.

As "PC Pros", we do need to see things from the point-of-view of those who do NOT want to spend their leisure time learning how "to DO MORE" . These are the very people who look to us for help and advice and we *don't* help them by sneering at what may be, in fact, an ideal real-life solution.

By mikelaye on 17 Oct 2013

I am just sitting here reading API documentation on a Chromebook. I can get around much faster with a keyboard and trackpad than I can on a tablet. I can't do my actual work on this thing, but I can do a lot of other stuff, and it just springs to life when I need it.

It's just a pain having these things compared to PCs, when most people spend their time, even their working hours, browsing the net. I don't think many people could function without a net connection and yet we get endless complaints about Chromebooks not working offline. I could go on, but then I don't think I would persuade the naysayers who made up their mind a while back and are sticking to it.

By c6ten on 18 Oct 2013

what about the new HP chrome book 14 with haswel? its the one I want. is it coming to the UK?

By bikeman01 on 19 Oct 2013

My wife has a £1000 MacBook Pro, she swooned for that glowing apple and I broke under the promises of tea and cake. For the last three years the only time she's not used Chrome is to use Open Office. That’s it. In three years. THREE YEARS! Two days ago my three year old launched it across the kitchen in a complicated ball of limbs, cables and chair legs.

As far as I can tell this machine was made with her in mind. She can type on it, watch Netflix and when it inevitably meets a similar fate to its predecessor I can replace it without gently weeping onto my bank card. I'm getting her a Chromebook. I get all the points made up to now but I'm jumping on Mikelaye’s bus. It wasn't made for us…it was made for her.

By CaptMac on 21 Oct 2013

made for...

With cloud services offering OS/Apps/Data/Software/etc. all stored on their serveres, all you would need is a chrome book, even for work.
OK you need internet access but even some planes have free wifi now so you can work from most places now.

By Zippy204 on 21 Oct 2013

Chromebooks are great but misunderstood

People who slate the current Chromebooks don't seem to understand them. They're not meant as a primary computer. They're there to fill a niche. Thin, light, ultra portable simple machine to take out and about with you. I don't want to cart my £900 14" ultrabook around with me to get lost or broken. My Android is not really usable enough. The Chromebook is a perfect middle ground. Immature platform and could do with more CPU power and ram but fantastic offering to fill a niche at a good price.

By PicardC on 3 Nov 2013

Usable on lap?

Question for the PC Pro guys who have used this...

Is it big enough / comfortable on your lap?

I'm typing this on a 14" lappy and its fine - the laptop rests about half way on each thigh.

Would an 11" result in an 'awkward' positioning of the legs and associated human 'bits and pieces'?

Serious question.

By PicardC on 4 Nov 2013

An hour comparing Chromebooks in PC World

I spent an hour this afternoon in PC World comparing Chromebooks. Rather handily, they had a Chromebook stand and had the Samsung, HP11 and Acer side by side.

Samsung - nice, perfectly usable but washed out TN screen. £200

HP11 - v.similar to Samsung but with a more colourful IPS screen. Blacks still lacked contrast and detail though. £230.

Acer - this felt like a cheap laptop. If I was going to buy something like this, I'd get the Acer 11.6" Windows laptop for £300.

They all worked fine speedwise with several tabs open including iPlayer and Docs, and I didn't detect any noticeable slowdown.

All down to personal preference / price / looks it seems....

By PicardC on 6 Nov 2013

ok for a school kid?

I am looking at this as a possible laptop for my son who will be going into first year,in conjunction with Google docs.would it be good enough for that - answers from owners please!

I just looked at the programs currently running on my daughter's windows 7 laptop and she is running spotify,facebook and email,all via a web browser. The only apps we have installed ever on it are iTunes and libre office. The new generation work online,so maybe chrome books have a future!

By foobar on 10 Nov 2013

surface RT is a better proposition

I've been seriously considering a chromebook but they are jst too expensive for the limitations: low powered, no skype, need a new printer or a pc to print (why?) etc. With the recent price revision I'm thinking now that a surface RT fits the bill of portability without the limitations of a chromebook.

By bikeman01 on 9 Dec 2013

Presumptuous

Isn't is great to review an item that you use for a few hours in Soho, then take back to the wild of the shires. Simply; it's a web browser that has a prerequisite that there is always an Internet connection. I live and work in London, but I travel to many places where an always-on Internet connection is a madman's vision. Be serious.This a Californian dream and treat it with the contempt it deserves.

By theantman66 on 20 Sep 2014

Presumptuous

Isn't is great to review an item that you use for a few hours in Soho, then take back to the wild of the shires. Simply; it's a web browser that has a prerequisite that there is always an Internet connection. I live and work in London, but I travel to many places where an always-on Internet connection is a madman's vision. Be serious.This a Californian dream and treat it with the contempt it deserves.

By theantman66 on 20 Sep 2014

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