In the market for my next Chromebook, I’m looking to treat myself to a high-end model. One I’ve been eyeing is HP’s x360 14c. Fortunately, I was able to test-drive it up front because I’m a tech writer. And I’m pretty happy that I did.
Several things initially caught my eye about it. First off, it has an Intel Core i3 processor. Many models in shops tend to rather have Celeron or Snapdragon in them. I prefer the i3 or i5, because they seem to work solid and zippy. And the HP has 8GB of RAM built in, which is nice, along with upward-facing Bang & Olufsen speakers, 14-inch Corning Gorilla Glass touchscreen, fingerprint reader, Wi-Fi 6, nearly 11 hours of battery life, microSD slot, USB and USB-C slots, and the ability to fold all the way back into a tablet. Plus, my review unit came with an HP stylus that’s available as an optional accessory. It magnetically snaps to the side of the machine. And the whole thing weighs just 3.35 pounds.
The Chromebook I’ve been using the past 16 months – an old Macbook Pro that I converted using Neverware CloudReady – has started acting funky. Although I added RAM, it still stutters to a grinding halt when I try editing large images. And sometimes it inexplicably won’t register my keystrokes. I’m well aware that Google is officially coming out soon with its Chrome OS Flex for my machine, but early reports are that it works awful with Macs and much better with old Windows machines. Besides, I just think it’s time for the latest-and-greatest actual Chromebook – one in which I can take advantage of the Google Play store with.
By the way, people ask why I prefer a Chromebook. First, it’s the safety. I don’t need to ever worry about it getting viruses. Secondly, I love the Google ecosystem and the way it meshes Docs, Photos, Drive and Gmail. Third, I love the instant start-up. Fourth, I love the speed. And that I can work offline. And watch videos, movies and TV on it. And of course in my case, it works great for writers.
My experience using the HP the past couple of weeks has been great – especially compared to working on my converted Macbook Pro. A couple of things were pleasant surprises. The build quality seems to be outstanding. The hinges are awesome – letting the screen rest solidly in place at literally any angle. Its touchpad feels great, being super responsive with the right amount of spring. Plus, there’s a physical camera switch on the left side – letting me quickly turn off the camera. Beats using a post-it to cover the lens, when I don’t want to be seen. And the 250-nit screen can get brighter than I imagined.
Listen, using a Chromebook is a similar experience from one machine to the next. But having these nice extras lets me know I can probably expect several years of use out of it until the next great thing emerges. This particular model sells for $540, which seems to be the hot spot of well-made Chromebook machines right now.