When I opened up the box that HP sent me as part of the #hpjoy promotion I pulled out the 14 inch Chromebook and told my husband “Now I can install some computer games and be a gamer with you!” Obviously I hadn’t read up on the device before I agreed to review it! If your intention is to get a laptop that you can load up with your favorite software, this is not the right laptop for you. As I discovered, there are a lot of really great uses for this device. If you buy it with the right intentions I think you will find that it is a useful part of your daily routine. (Google Hangouts have changed my life! But we’ll get to that later.)
The Chromebook operates differently than any other laptop I’ve encountered – if you can’t do it in the Chrome web browser, you can’t do it on the Chromebook. It’s meant to be connected to the internet at all times, and everything is done via the web. At first I felt limited by this, but as I’ve used the device I’ve started to see its strengths.
- It takes seconds to boot up. Almost as soon as I think “I want to comment on that Facebook thread I saw earlier,” I can start typing. The apps load in five seconds or less.
- It took me less than 5 minutes to take it out of the box and start using it the same way I am right now. I signed in to my Google account and my Chrome links were locked and loaded, and my favorite apps were available in the Chrome Apps launcher. Getting a new device often means a significant portion of time devoted to setting it up the way you want, and so I really appreciated this feature.
- It has a sense of humor! I took a test shot in the camera app and when I went to delete it the app asked me “Are you sure you want to delete this priceless photo?”
- The battery was charged at 75% when I first opened it up (I like when I can start using a device right after I get it) and lasts between 6-8 hours between charges depending on your screen brightness.
- Touch the power button to put it to sleep. Hold it down for a few seconds to turn it off and log out.
- There were a few free offers in my box. I chose 100GB of storage on Google Drive for two years and free 4g mobile Internet for two years via T-Mobile. This may be something specific to the HP Chromebook 14 version I have (if you win you’ll get to choose from a few things as well!)
- The caps lock button is replaced by a magnifying glass, and allows you to launch any website or app with a tap of your pinky. It feels really natural. As I was typing this Spotify starts playing a Christmas song I wasn’t excited about. I tapped the search button, started to type s-p-o, hit enter when I saw Spotify was selected, and was taken to the tab where Spotify was playing. This allows me to keep lots of tabs open and easily navigate to the place I want to be. If you miss the caps lock button you can change the function of that button in the settings.
- My absolute favorite part about this device – Google Hangout! I’ve never used Hangout before but I thought FaceTime was meeting my needs. The Chromebook Hangout experience has been so invigorating and exciting for me because of the combination of three things:
- When I call my mom on FaceTime, she wants to see the kids but talk to me. It’s usually dinnertime and I need to be up and about heating things up. With a tablet or phone + two young children I can’t set the device down and move about the kitchen, or if I do it never lasts long before the baby has the phone in her mouth or my son hits the red button and hangs up the call. Using a laptop means that I can set up the call with the Chromebook on the kitchen counter and point it toward the living room while the kids dance around adding effects to their faces while I talk to my mom as I make dinner. VIRTUAL BABYSITTING. Bet HP didn’t know that’s what they were boxing up when they sent me this Chromebook.
- Hangout also allows multiple people on the call, and using Google+ I can craft circles of people who might be interested in participating in a call together. Each night as I’m making dinner, facing down yet another evening without adult interaction due to always-working husband, I fire up Hangouts and invite one of my circles to video chat with me. I have circles for my mom and sister, husband, immediate family+husband, blog friends, Bay Area friends, etc. I’m even working on recruiting my grandma to Hangout with me! My husband was able to virtually participate in the tree decoration using a Hangout, which meant a lot to me.
- Hangouts can be done using a desktop, laptop, phone, or tablet (as long as they have a camera). Android and Apple users can both participate by downloading the Hangouts app. This has significantly increased the pool of people that I can video chat with.
I do have a few complaints about the HP Chromebook 14. The screen tone is very blue, and the contrast isn’t high enough. I haven’t been able to figure out how to adjust this to my liking.The sound is decently loud, but it’s a bit tinny and lacks depth. I love the white color and sleek design, but I wouldn’t say it feels lighter than I expect. For these reasons I strongly suggest viewing one in person before you buy.
Overall the HP Chromebook 14 has been a pleasant surprise. I haven’t had a laptop for several years, and had been trying to make a combination of Bluetooth keyboard+iPad fit my needs. It was an awkward setup and I would often forget to charge the keyboard. This week I had some time between errands and it was easy and fast to open the HP Chromebook, start up the screen, connect to the wifi, and answer emails. After the Hangouts function, my favorite part of this device is how quickly I can accomplish the tasks it is designed to accomplish. No waiting, and no crashing. The large screen on the Chromebook allows me to easily see my recipes from across the kitchen as I make dinner. On nights when I want some company I send out a Hangout invitation to one of my circles and wait for someone to join when they are available. While I wait for someone to join the call I connect the Chromebook to my Bluetooth speaker and dance around the kitchen with my little ones as the dinner simmers on the stove. After the kids are in bed I climb into bed to answer emails and finish off blog posts with a proper keyboard on my lap. It’s been a wonderful #hpjoy experience.
Now the reason why most of you clicked over in the first place – #hpjoy sent one HP Chromebook 14 for me to use and review, and in that shipment they included one for me to giveaway to one of you! Use the Rafflecopter below to enter.
One (1) winner will receive a HP Chromebook 14 . Giveaway ends on December 13th at 12am PST. Open to US residents, 18 years old and above only. One entry per household. Winners will be contacted via email and given 48 hours to confirm win. By entering you are giving me permission to use your contract info for shipping purposes. Not affiliated with Facebook or Twitter. Void where prohibited by law. All entries will be verified. Sponsor reserves the right in their sole discretion to disqualify any entry content at any time in the event it is determined that the entry content is offensive, inappropriate, fraudulent, not in keeping with Sponsor?s image or if it is determined that the entrant has not otherwise complied with these Official Rules.
I have received two HP Chromebooks for my review and comments. #sponsored