HP Chromebook 13 Review

Photo credit: Courtesy of amazon.com
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HP upped the style of its Chromebook, giving it a richer look and feel than the competition. It also has an outstanding 13.3-inch display, with vibrant colors and a high resolution.

Many people looking for an inexpensive portable computer will opt for a Chromebook, which typically are cheaper than similarly equipped laptops. The HP Chromebook 13 (starting at $499, Amazon) is a little pricier than other Chromebook competitors, but they don't have all of this model's specs and are hard pressed to rival its higher-end style.

HP's Chromebook 13 is not your typical web-based laptop. It's incredibly thin at just half an inch, with a sleekly-designed brushed aluminum casing (anodized for extra durability), and its 13.3-inch display is capable of an impressive 3200 x 1800 resolution which can be stretched across two externally connected screens via a special docking station ($29). A Tech Radar expert admits that such robust resolution is overkill for a Chromebook, but also says the system's native display has dead-accurate colors and wide viewing angles. These sentiments are echoed by a reviewer from Ars Technica who says the HP Chromebook 13's display is flatly the best he's ever seen on a Chromebook. It may not be a touchscreen, but it looks amazing.

Aside from the widely praised display, the HP Chromebook 13 has several other features that will appeal. It runs on Google's Chrome OS 64, and the base model has a slightly stepped up Intel Pentium 4405Y CPU along with integrated Intel HD graphics. The system has 4GB of RAM and a 32GB eMMC. It also has a memory card reader that buyers can use for extra storage. In addition to the two USB-C ports (yes, two!) are a USB 3.1 port, a headphone/mic jack, and an HD webcam. The HP Chromebook 13 supports 802.11ac connections as well as the usual a/b/g/n and Bluetooth 4 options. And all of this is bundled into a frame that weighs just 2.86 pounds.

The keyboard is backlit, which is uncommon in budget laptops and a touch that many like. Although reviewers say there's enough room there and its comfortable, the keyboard might still have a better feel; there are gripes that typing seems just a little mushy and the shallow keys don't provide a lot of feedback. The trackpad, however, is smooth and responsive and easily supports two-finger gestures. A soundbar centered just above the keyboard houses two Bang & Olufsen speakers.

Shoppers who want a Chromebook that looks and feels like something more than the typical fare will be impressed with this HP model's design, metal construction, and stellar display. The HP Chromebook 13 was geared to make a breakthrough in offices, but reviews suggest it should be a hit with people from all walks of life, even longtime Mac lovers.

Michael Sweet

Michael Sweet writes about consumer electronics. If something runs on electricity or ones and zeroes, he's interested in it. Sweet has written about PC technology and consumer electronics for 14 years.

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