HP’s Chromebook commands a premium price within the cheaper than usual Chromebook space. Does it do enough to justify that extra expenditure?
HP Pavilion Chromebook: On the plus side
HP’s Pavilion lines aren’t the flashiest of notebooks. They’re solid workhorses, and that’s exactly the case with the Pavilion Chromebook. Its 14 inch 1366×768 pixel screen is the largest in its class, and, like the Asus Chromebook, it runs off an Intel Celeron processor, meaning it’s a little faster than the ARM-based Samsung Chromebook.
It also looks a little bit better than the competing Chromebook options. That’s obviously a slightly subjective observation, but the simple truth here is that Chromebooks are built to a cost specification, not a design one, and that has meant that most Chromebooks do look a little cheap.
To give an example, when I was watching the absolutely horrendous “The Internship” last week, I noticed a number of Chromebooks prominently in shot — but not, oddly, the HP Pavilion Chromebook, unless it was well hidden — alongside a number of Apple laptops. One set of laptops, even on the big screen, looked much cheaper than the other, but if they’d used Pavilion Chromebooks extensively, the differences would have been markedly reduced.
That 14 inches of display size leads to a larger notebook, which also gives it a little more space for the keyboard, which has decent response, although it is a little bit on the noisy side. If you type rapidly, those around it will definitely know you’re working hard on this particular laptop.
The Pavilion Chromebook also boasts Altec Lansing Speakers that sit just above the keyboard. Within a plastic chassis, they’re never going to sound spectacular, but for the budget Chromebook market they’re quite pleasant.
I’ve covered off the basics of Chromebook operation previously, but to quickly recap, Chromebooks don’t run on the Windows or Mac operating systems you’re used to, but instead Google’s own Chrome OS, with everything running within the Chrome browser, and a strong focus on Google’s own online services. It’s feasible to run a Chromebook in an offline configuration, but you wouldn’t want to do so for all that long.
HP Pavilion Chromebook: On the minus side
The Pavilion Chromebook has the same downsides as any other Chromebook if you’re coming from a Windows or Mac background. There are some interesting Chrome applications out there, but there are any number of big name apps that simply don’t exist. You can feasibly access a system running those apps in a remote fashion, but that’s not the same thing, especially if you’re mobile and your data connection isn’t that reliable.
In battery testing, the Pavilion Chromebook’s 4-cell (37WHr) Li-Ion battery lasted two hours and thirty eight minutes. That was a little surprising, given the architectural similarity between the Pavilion Chromebook and Acer’s C7 Chromebook. The Acer has a smaller screen, but conked out a little earlier than the Pavilion Chromebook did. They’re still both eclipsed by the Samsung Chromebook‘s three hours and forty one minute battery life in the same test.
HP Pavilion Chromebook: Pricing
HP prices the Pavilion Chromebook locally at $399, making it the most expensive Chromebook currently on the Australian market. For once, at least, I don’t have too much of a complaint about HP’s local pricing; the US list price is $329, but as always that’s without taxes included. Add in GST and you’re up to $361, meaning that there’s a thirty eight dollar difference. That’s still a little irksome, but it pales next to the forty per cent price difference on the Samsung Chromebook, for example.
HP Pavilion Chromebook: Alex’s verdict
Chromebooks are a very particular niche; you’ve got to want to use Google’s services extensively, live online extensively and be in a particularly limited budget space. The Pavilion Chromebook is well built and has a decent screen and keyboard, but ultimately I’d stick to my recommendation of the Samsung Chromebook, simply due to its superior battery life. At $399, you do start to move into the space where you can buy a very cheap Windows notebook that will offer a great deal more flexibility than a Chromebook. As such, the price is what sells a Chromebook, and the Pavilion Chromebook’s asking price is just a little too high.