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Lifewire / Andy Zahn
Excellent mousepad and keyboard
Premium build quality
Super long battery life
Lack of versatility compared to Windows computers
The HP Chromebook x360 14 G1 is a great laptop that struggles with its high price point and the limited nature of the Chrome OS operating system.
The HP Chromebook X360 14 G1 is definitely a premium device. From its shiny silver chassis to its satisfyingly tactile keyboard and responsive trackpad, this Chrome powered laptop could easily be mistaken for a Macbook with little more than a minor logo makeover. However, there are tradeoffs to be made for high-end features in a budget device. Can the X360 G1 offer a compelling alternative to Windows and Apple?
There’s no doubt that HP went all out to make the X360 look and feel like a high-end machine. The laptop is built of beautiful silver aluminum with contrasting black keys, and the overall effect is more than a little reminiscent of a Macbook. It’s also extraordinarily thin and light, making it an eminently portable device. This thin, lightweight design, fortunately, doesn’t come at the expense of durability, though like most laptops it’s not a device you’d want to drop.
The keyboard is similar in layout and style to Apple’s high-end machines, and it’s very comfortable for typing with pleasantly tactile keys. The trackpad is generous in size and responsive and contributes a great deal to why the G1 is such a pleasure to use. However, it’s worth noting that like other Chromebooks it only features a left mouse button, which took us a little while to get used to.
Volume control is handled either by buttons on the keyboard or by a pair of buttons on the right-hand side of the computer. These might seem unnecessary, but they are actually designed to be used when the x360 is folded into a tablet, or used in tent mode.
The X360 is extraordinarily thin and light, making it an eminently portable device.
The 360-degree hinge mechanism is well implemented on the X360. It’s firm yet smooth to operate, and there’s not an excessive amount of wobble when using it in laptop configuration. However, it should be noted that we did experience some wobble when using the touchscreen in laptop mode. The hinge seems durable and should be able to hold up to long term wear and tear.
With such a thin device, it’s not a surprise that the IO is somewhat limited, though it’s by no means overly limited. You get a USB-C port on either side of the X360, each capable of charging the laptop as well as of transferring data or a video signal to an external display. On the right side, there’s also a USB 3.1 port, and on the left there’s a microSD card slot and a headphone/microphone combo jack.
One of the biggest advantages by far of ChromeOS is how little effort is required to get started. We just had to plug it in, power it on, and sign in to our Google account. Other than that, the computer will ask you to accept the terms and conditions, and you can choose to go into more detail with your privacy and personalization settings. It took us less than ten minutes to go from a sealed box to a fully working computer.
The 14” display on the x360 is certainly a looker. Its 1920 x 1090 Full HD display may not be the most pixel-dense screen on a laptop of this size, but it’s more than adequate for the task. Text and other details are crisp and clear, and the display benefits from good visibility at a wide range of angles.
Our X360 came equipped with an Intel Pentium 4415U and 8GB of RAM, which is more than adequate for handling ChromeOS compatible programs. In our PCMark Work 2.0 test the X360 scored 9338, nearly double what we’ve seen from some other Chromebooks.
Graphics results were also good, with our tests in GFX Bench providing 686 frames in Aztec Ruins OpenGL (High Tier) and 1,531 frames in the Tesselation test. In a Windows or Apple PC this wouldn’t be overwhelming, but the X360 is more comparable to an Android phone than a typical computer (both in terms of price and specs). It delivers a roughly similar experience to a high-end Samsung or iPhone.
With an MSRP of $903, the X360 invites unflattering comparisons to much more capable Windows 10-based devices.
In real-world terms, the X360 had no problem handling any program we could throw at it. Whether browsing the web with multiple open tabs, streaming high resolution content, or playing games such as DOTA Underlords at maximum graphical settings, none of the compatible applications we loaded up caused the G1 to sputter.
Other, even more expensive models of the X360 are available with additional RAM and processing power, but the base model packs more than enough horsepower for any of the compatible apps. The system as a whole runs flawlessly.
If you are a video creator, a photographer who does heavy image editing, or a graphic designer, then the advanced programs you need simply aren’t available for Chromebooks. Mobile versions are available, but they’re hardly a complete replacement for their Windows 10 and MacOS counterparts.
Where ChromeOS and the X360 shine is in web-based productivity tasks. This is a laptop ideally suited to responding to emails, writing documents, or doing spreadsheets on the go. The convertible design also helps in this regard, as some tasks benefit from a laptop configuration while others are better handled with a tablet—the X360 can be both.
The audio quality of the X360’s Bang & Olufsen-branded speakers is remarkably good. It’s no replacement for a set of dedicated stereo speakers, but they’re capable of surprisingly high volume, and provide good definition throughout their range, from bass to high notes. We enjoyed listening to a range of music on the G1, from Mongolian metal tunes from The Hu, to 2Cellos soothing tunes, to the raucous punk rock of The Blinders. We also appreciated the audio quality while watching Stranger Things and other streaming content.
The X360 performed well in our Ookla speed test and had no issue acquiring and maintaining a connection to our network. Bluetooth is also supported and similarly well implemented.
The X360’s 720p camera isn’t anything to write home about, but it’ll do the job for a video call. It’s fairly grainy, and image quality in general isn’t great, but by no means awful by webcam standards. Video and photos are reasonably detailed, which is as much as can be expected.
The battery life of the X360 is particularly impressive, even compared to other Chromebooks. These devices are known and marketed for their ability to get through a full day without recharging, and the X360 does that with juice to spare. We were able to run this laptop for about 13 hours on a single charge, enough for a day at work or school and an evening at home. Used sparingly, this is a laptop that could soldier through several days, no power cord required.
ChromeOS is a very specialized operating system that excels at basic productivity tasks and provides excellent built-in security, but it’s very feature-light compared to more complete operating systems like Windows 10 and MacOS.
The versatility of ChromeOS is expanded by compatibility with some Android applications, though this varies by device. The X360 offers excellent results in this regard, and is one of the more widely compatible ChromeOS devices. Further compatibility is possible via the use of Linux, though this capability is still in beta.
Chromebooks by their nature are meant to be affordable, budget-oriented laptops focused on productivity. The problem with the X360 is that it comes with considerable sticker shock—with an MSRP of $903, the X360 invites unflattering comparisons to much more capable Windows 10-based devices.
Fortunately, the X360 can consistently be found on sale at a considerable discount, as much as half its original price. At that price, it’s a much more attractive budget option, though still on the high-end side for ChromeOS devices.
The X360 faces plenty of stiff competition, both from Chromebooks and from devices running Windows. Its high price point, in particular, puts it in the playing field of Windows laptops at the higher end of the spectrum, where it doesn’t compete nearly as well as with other Chromebooks.
A Dell XPS 13, for example, offers a stellar user experience, convertible 360-degree hinge design, and the flexibility of Windows 10, at a very similar price point to the X360’s MSRP. Even at a much-reduced sale price, the X360 faces competition from Windows laptops like HP’s own Pavilion 14. While not as premium a device as the XPS 13, the Pavilion 14 still offers better value than the X360.
You could also sacrifice quality for a truly cheap, but still very usable convertible Chrome OS laptop. The Lenovo Chromebook C330 comes with a lot of compromises, but you could buy three at MSRP and still come up short of the full MSRP of the X360.
An excellent Laptop with a price that’s hard to stomach.
It’s a pity that HP X360 14 G1 is saddled with such a significant (and difficult to justify) price point. This is an excellent laptop that, in terms of design and usability, is comparable with many premium devices. If you want the best ChromeOS based laptop on the market the X360 is a strong choice, but the cost is a difficult pill to swallow.