HP Chromebook 14 review: a decent screen and good keyboard aren’t enough

There is nothing about the HP 2019 Chromebook 14 that is eye-catching or makes it stand out from the field of affordable Chromebooks. It is a robust and plastic laptop that, at $ 329 as revised, will attract schools and other use cases where the slow AMD processor will not be a major obstacle. The 14-inch and 1080p screen is perfect for working within Google Docs and watching YouTube videos. And HP's $ 400 Chromebook also offers a good selection of ports, a suitable keyboard and trackpad, and a reassuring feeling of durability. That's all you can expect from a laptop at this price, but with so much competition – good competition – for a couple of hundred dollars more, the Chromebook 14 is a bit difficult to recommend for a few Reasons


Verge Score

hp chromebook 14 review a decent screen and good keyboard arent enough

Good Stuff

  • Large 1080p screen
  • The keyboard is very pleasant to use
  • Exterior finish resistant to scratches and stains

Bad Stuff

  • performance
  • Warms up
  • Battery life of Lacklustre

In terms of style, it has a nice matte textured plastic finish on the outer shell, with a bright circle on the top half with the HP logo. This design should do a great job of avoiding scratches or smudges from fingerprints. With 3.4 pounds, this is not the lightest Chromebook that exists. Nor is it particularly slender at 0.7 inches thick. My review unit is a navy blue tone.

When you open it, the bevels around the screen have the same texture, but the keyboard platform has a flat, softer look and a faux aluminum look. Nobody is waiting for such cheap metal in a laptop, so the illusion does not really pass the exam. It feels good, though, and the keys themselves are nice and classic without feeling too loose. They have a good amount of travel, but they are not backlit. Not surprisingly, when you consider the price and that HP probably expects this Chromebook to be used predominantly in the classroom. The touchpad works well, with smooth scrolling and precise recognition of gestures with two fingers. You get a good variety of ports on both sides of the Chromebook 14, including two USB-C (which is how the laptop is charged), two USB-A, a microSD slot and a headphone jack.

hp chromebook 14 review a decent screen and good keyboard arent enough

Above the keyboard and across its entire width is the loudspeaker grille, and HP says the Bang & Olufsen B & O Play brand helped optimize the dual speakers of the laptop. It would be difficult to tell him that he made a noticeable difference, since he is still getting exactly the kind of sound output he would expect from a Chromebook with the lowest budget. It's hollow, no bass response to talk about.

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The screen is a better story, but it still comes with concessions. The 1080p touchscreen of the Chromebook 14 is sharp and becomes quite bright, but its colors are on the opaque and off-side. When I say that there are better Chromebooks out there that do not offer much more money, color reproduction is one of those areas where you will see that the HP machine is not up to par. Chrome OS responded quickly and consistently to my touches and gestures on the screen, so this hardware does the job well to quickly jump into Google Docs or swipe the application launcher. The hinge on the screen is so strong that you will lift the entire laptop if you try to open it with one hand, so you will definitely want to use two. And something that will never want to use is the webcam, which will make it look grainy and monotonous for anyone with whom he is chatting on video.

Unfortunately, as one of the first Chromebook with AMD on the market, the latest from HP is not a great actor. The A4-9120C dual-core processor has a clock speed of 1.6Ghz and can increase up to 2.4Ghz, and although you can easily jump between several open Chrome tabs at the same time, you will reach a ceiling and you will face episodes of delay if you press more or less a dozen, especially during video playback. Do not expect problems when working on documents or browsing the web or checking email, but if you are doing all of this at the same time while playing Spotify or trying to watch Netflix, there will be slowdowns. The Chromebook 14 has 32 GB of eMMC storage and 4 GB of RAM, both on par with the course at this price level.

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This Chromebook 14 with AMD technology is not made for most Android games, not even the most casual ones. The Odyssey of Alto and Super Mario Run were very choppy and clearly had problems with the frame rate, even though there were no other apps open in the background when I tried them. If you keep it extremely basic with something like Sonic the Hedgehog Classic you'll be fine, but do not expect to play any of the more modern Android titles.

The life of the battery was also disappointing. HP claims that the laptop can reach up to 9 hours, but that depends largely on the configuration you get. The 1080p touch screen model that I tested is the biggest battery problem of all and could never help me reliably in a typical workday. According to HP's estimates, opting for the low resolution non-touch screen (what schools could do) can increase longevity. The switch to AMD may be saving costs for HP, but it does not come with advantages of battery life.

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The plastic bottom of the laptop can also become uncomfortably warm when plugged into a charger or under load. I found it substantially hotter than other Chromebooks I've used for the past two years. It will not burn you or anything like that, but there is no way to avoid the fact that this thing becomes dangerous.

But when you go back to your bargain price, the HP AMD Chromebook 14 is not a total failure. You will get a good amount of screen space, a clear visualization and an adequate performance for the basic web browsing tasks. This notebook seems tailor made for schools, where Chromebooks dominate all challengers. If you need a laptop that meets the basic needs of the house, this may call your attention. But I would prefer to direct the majority of consumers towards better but more expensive options, such as the Asus Chromebook Flip or the Samsung Chromebook Plus. Chromebooks have been refined a lot in recent years, but the Chromebook 14 feels a bit like in the past.

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