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Lifewire / Yoona Wagener
Extra-long battery life
Camera is great for snapping videos/selfies
Speakers produce shrill audio at times
Touchpad isn't very responsive
The HP Chromebook 11 is a great laptop for students of all ages, but it’s also perfect for casual home use, stowing for travel and streaming, and is a competent multitasker for catching up with work on the move.
Maybe you’re on the fence about whether a Chromebook is adequate or appealing for your computing needs. The HP Chromebook 11 makes a solid case for those who are curious about opting for a Chromebook over a MacBook Pro or Windows laptop without making a huge investment. While it’s a student-oriented Chromebook, many of the distinguishing traits—rugged design, long battery life, and a streamlined operating system that offers well-rounded basic computing performance—make it an appealing home computer option for yourself or the family.
The HP Chromebook 11 isn’t the lightest laptop on the market at almost 3 pounds, but the benefit of a little more heft in your bag is knowing that this is a pretty sturdy machine. The molded rubber exterior, while a little plastic-looking, feels very durable. HP boosts perceived ruggedness with a MIL-STD 810G military durability grade and an IP41 dust and water-resistance rating. These scores mean that this laptop is spill-resistant and can withstand tumbles from a little over 2 feet onto concrete. This is good news for anyone who is accident-prone around electronics and gadgets.
The HP Chromebook 11 isn’t the lightest laptop on the market at almost 3 pounds, but the benefit of a little more heft in your bag is knowing that this is a pretty sturdy machine.
Another plus is the availability and type of USB ports. If you have an iPhone or Android phone with USB Type-C charging needs, there are two ports that will allow you to keep those devices charged or transfer files. And the keyboard features responsive keys and convenient shortcut buttons to search for apps or toggle between desktops while you’re working.
The only big drawback of the design is the touchpad. By default, the sensitivity settings are set right in the middle of the spectrum, which makes them slow and created a dragging sensation across the screen. When I changed the speed level to fast, this didn’t help smooth out the performance. The cursor just jumped erratically and was difficult to control.
The HP Chromebook 11 display, while not generously sized, doesn’t look as small as some 11.6-inch laptops. But in terms of visibility, the best view was straight on. Otherwise, even slightly beyond a centered viewing angle, everything on the screen was overtaken by shadow. Tilting the screen almost completely flat, thanks to the HP Chromebook’s 180-degree hinge, was handy when I wanted to improve visibility in a bright, sunlit room or while sitting outdoors.
The 180-degree hinge was handy when I wanted to improve visibility while sitting outdoors.
I used the CrXPRT benchmarking tool by Principled Technologies to test this Chromebook’s overall performance. The HP Chromebook 11 earned a 123 on the Performance Test, which measures a Chromebook’s ability to stream video, edit photos, and play games. As for general web-based task performance, the WebXPRT 3 test gave the HP Chromebook 11 an 87 overall. Top-performing scorers earn well over 200.
As for battery and gaming performance, the HP Chromebook 11 garnered a projection of 19.45 hours and 60fps, which is a decent score for general dabbling in a game here or there. In my experience that was generally true while playing Asphalt 9. At first, I was only able to play for a few minutes until the game completely froze. During other attempts, there were only minor stutters in performance.
Most shoppers want a laptop that can handle a few tasks at once. And the HP Chromebook 11 is game. It’s fast at juggling different apps at once, which means you can stream music, draft email, and flip back to a document or presentation you’re putting together. I never noticed any hint of sluggishness when moving from different Google applications.
But you don’t have to be online at all times to stay productive. Chrome OS makes it possible to do a lot of the stuff you’d do online, like edit documents and spreadsheets and search and compose emails, offline. If you’re dialed into the Google suite of apps like Docs and Sheets and Gmail, too, this is extremely helpful and makes this Chromebook feel versatile in the way other laptops are.
The sound quality from the HP Chromebook 11’s stereo speakers isn’t remarkable. Like most laptops in this size and price range, the speakers are located on the bottom of the device, producing a muffled and muted sound most of the time. Generally, anything I watched or listened to—dialogue and music—sounded stifled or tinny without headphones. With headphones plugged in, the sound was generally louder and a little more dynamic. Bass tones were richer with music and I didn’t need to turn the volume up as high to escape the far-away listening experience I noticed when I did not tune in with headphones.
The HP Chromebook is more advanced in terms of network connectivity than other inexpensive Chromebooks or notebooks. It uses 802.11ac MIMO wireless technology, which means it’s a bit more reliable at maintaining a strong wireless signal.
With my tri-band 802.11ac, MU-MIMO Wi-Fi router, I saw similar Ookla Speedtest download speeds that I experience with my 2017 MacBook. On my Chicago-area Xfinity internet service plan of up to 200Mbps download speeds, I typically see between 90-120Mbps from my MacBook. The HP Chromebook wasn’t far behind at all, ranging from an average of 74Mbps to 116Mbps.
Not that you’d want to consume all of this content simultaneously, but the HP Chromebook 11 was fast enough to stream videos from YouTube and Netflix and audio from public radio and Spotify all at once without any signal losses or buffering delays.
Computer webcams are usually not much to fuss over. While this Chromebook features a 720-pixel high-resolution front-facing camera, the actual quality was generally underwhelming during video chatting. The picture was very fuzzy with my chat recipient, who also could barely hear me, even when I inched closer to the microphone, located to the right of the camera. This makes the laptop more of a miss than a hit for students using this laptop for e-learning with video conferencing—or anyone who might need to do a quick video call for work or socially.
If you’re interested in taking pictures and videos, though, the camera performs above average there. It yielded a great amount of light, didn’t have the overly grainy or foggy look of other webcams, and produced accurate colors and skin tones—though with a bit of an airbrushed effect.
One of the most positive aspects of any laptop is the get-up-and-go convenience from the form factor and battery life. Most offer at least 8 hours to get you through the workday, but the HP Chromebook 11 goes beyond that. On a single charge and with intermittent use, I was able to depend on this laptop for a solid 13 hours of streaming and other basic computing tasks over a couple of days.
On a separate day, I logged 10 full hours of continuous YouTube video streaming before the battery died. In addition to impressive battery performance, the HP Chromebook 11 consistently took just a little over 90 minutes to recharge.
With intermittent use, I was able to depend on this laptop for a solid 13 hours before recharging.
To those who are considering a transition to a Chromebook, the thought of going without Windows or MacOS features could be worrisome. But the reality is that while there are some limitations— you won’t be able to install Adobe Photoshop for example—you can install Microsoft Word and even Windows on a Chromebook. You can also choose from many comparable apps in the Google Play or Chrome Web stores that could serve your photo editing and other production needs.
Obviously, you’ll need a Google account and be a savvy or willing user of the Chrome browser and Google services to really get the most out of a Chromebook like the HP Chromebook 11. Much the way that MacOS and Windows 10 Home in S Mode limits apps based on certified apps in their respective apps stores, the Chrome OS serves to protect and simplify the way you complete basic tasks on a computer.
It’s worth noting that there’s a lot going on automatically in terms of search history, recommendations, and other data that the system automatically tracks. There’s the flexibility to turn all of this off, but it’s arguable that the user who gets the most out of a Chromebook wants all of their search history and documents and everything else synced up across devices and through their Google account.
Chromebooks can be steeply-priced—up to or over $1,000. These models are much more robust and have more memory, faster processors, and bigger and higher-resolution screens. In the category of budget-minded Chromebooks and laptops under $200, you won’t find much variation when it comes to aspects like battery life or screen quality. But if you step up a bit in price, the HP Chromebook—retailing for around $314—offers a bit more capability than more budget-friendly options under $200 that have only 8 hours of battery capacity and aren’t built as tough.
A very similar model to the HP Chromebook 11 G7 EE is the Acer Chromebook 11 C732T-C8VY (see on Amazon). Both run on similar Intel Celeron and HD graphics processors and feature 11.6-inch glossy displays at the same resolution, 802.11ac network compatibility, and the same number and kind of USB 3.0 and USB Type-C ports.
The most significant difference is the price. The Acer Chromebook is slightly cheaper—you can find it between $250-$300—and comes standard with 4GB of memory and 32GB of storage. Although, if you want more storage than 16GB or 32GB, the HP Chromebook 11 can be enhanced with more memory too—up to 64GB for $38 extra.
While they’re both pretty much the same size and equally rugged, you’ll save a little more room in your bag with the HP Chromebook 11, which is a tiny bit slimmer and a little lighter. One more slight advantage in the HP Chromebook’s favor is battery life. The Acer Chromebook 11 has a battery capacity of up to 12 hours, while HP guarantees up to an additional 30 minutes of battery life.
A sturdy laptop that covers the basics for work, school, and play.
The HP Chromebook 11 is a solid choice for students and others interested in purchasing an inexpensive laptop that is proficient at basic computing tasks. You won’t have to worry about the occasional slip or spill around this machine and the stellar battery life will allow you to leave the charger at home and travel with one less piece of equipment in your bag. It helps to be a savvy Google/Android user, but anyone can pick up this laptop and find it easy to use for streaming, homework, and web browsing.