Editor's Note: This model of the HP Chromebook 14 is no longer on sale, and we are working on a fresh review of the 2022 model, so watch this space! In the meantime, you can check out our carefully curated picks of the best Chromebooks and best laptops. Please don't waste your valuable time reading this old review. I mean it.
If you ever doubted Chromebooks as viable laptop alternatives, then the HP Chromebook 14 is sure to remove any concern. While a lot of users gravitate towards Windows or Apple notebooks, ChromeOS-powered devices have their place, and this Chromebook is proof of that.
In fact, with all the features and steady performance of the Chromebook 14, you might decide to make the leap. If you just need a computer to get you online, check emails, do some basic work, and binge some Netflix, this extremely affordable device is more than up to the job. Add in a great keyboard, excellent trackpad, and a beautiful 14-inch screen, and you end up with a machine that offers a lot more value than just its low price tag.
There are some obvious limitations with a laptop like this. It won’t do intensive gaming or graphics-heavy work such as video editing. But, if you have more basic computing demands, then the HP Chromebook 14 is the way to go, particularly when you take into consideration that one will set you back only $199 (about £230, AU$500).
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HP's Chromebook isn't exactly a high-end PC, but it's a slick, streamlined piece of kit nonetheless. The tapered enclosure measures 0.7 inches (about 18mm) thick at its thickest point. At 3.74 pounds (1.7kg), it's also reasonably light, though not as much as the 13.3-inch, 2.97-pound Toshiba Chromebook 2. That extra weight gives you a slightly larger screen, though, and the Chromebook 14 doesn't feel at all heavy in hand.
The case itself is entirely plastic, and it does flex and creak some as you adjust the screen or pick it up one-handed. On the bright side, the case doesn't have any exposed screws, so you don't need to worry about a loose screen dropping out randomly.
Oh. And it's blue. Very blue. Like, swimming-pool blue. The shade of blue, which HP calls Sky Blue, looks cool, but it isn't for everyone. A white keyboard and lid offsets all the vibrant blue, though it makes our Chromebook 14 review unit the PC equivalent of a Smurf. (Whether that's a good or bad thing depends on your taste in 1980s cartoons).
Plenty of ports
You'll find no shortage of inputs on the Chromebook 14. The left edge features an HDMI-out port, a security lock slot, a USB 3.0 port, a headphone jack, and a MicroSD card slot. Along the right, you'll find the power connector and two USB 2.0 ports. Ideally, I would have loved if all three USB ports supported USB 3.0, but there's plenty of connectivity for most users.
Stellar keyboard and trackpad
As a writer, I'm picky when it comes to keyboards, and I was pleasantly surprised by the typing experience on the Chromebook 14. The keyboard feels responsive with clicky keys and plenty of key travel.
The keyboard flexes ever so slightly when I pound heavily on it, but under normal use, it isn't mushy at all. My gripe is there's no dedicated Caps Lock key; a Search key takes its place and must be triggered while holding the alt key. It isn't a big deal, but it makes it more difficult to impulsively tweet in all caps.
The trackpad is equally excellent. It's big and spacious, with plenty of room to mouse around. The whole trackpad is a button, so you don't have to fiddle around to find the left- and right-click buttons.
The button itself depresses with a satisfying click, but it's much stiffer the closer to the keyboard you go. If you're accustomed to the trackpad on, say, a MacBook Air, you'll feel right at home on the Chromebook 14.