Here at Android Headlines, we’re big fans of Google’s Chromebook initiative and while that’s not entirely surprising, we’ve certainly not just jumped on a bandwagon. In fact, I am typing this on an HP Chromebook 14 right now (and yes, I chose the stunning color choice pictured above) and I use this pretty much all day for all things AH. Sure, they’re far from perfect – dealing with images is a considerable pain still, for instance – but considering I live in a browser on my “big rig” gaming PC, a speedy Chromebook does everything I need. It does so without the foibles of other computers – be them Mac or Windows – there’s no waiting around for updates as they’re a 10-second reboot away, everything I need from Drive to GMail is right here at my fingertips. Even if you don’t use Google services for everything (which I don’t) then a Chromebook is still a great option. However, if Google really want people to pickup more Chromebooks then they’re hardware needs to be nicer, they need to push their partners to offer more appealing options.
The Chromebook 14 is my third Chromebook. I started with a Samsung Chromebook (the cheap one that launched for $249) which was so poorly made it died on me, and the Acer C720 was just too small yet its performance was excellent. Meanwhile, the Chromebook 14 is speedy, has 4GB of RAM (a big plus), a larger display that looks good, a spacious touchpad that’s a joy to use and the 14-inch display is big enough to happily work on. In my eyes, the Chromebook 14 is the best out there, it has the right blend of size and power for such a device and it’s still cheap at $249. Still, it’s far from perfect. It’s too heavy and the screen is a disappointing 1366 x 768 affair. There are other Chromebooks out there that right these wrongs, but on the whole the Chromebook 14 suffers from common Chromebook issues.
Obviously, these devices are designed to be cheap and so sacrifices need to be made and they mostly get things right. I haven’t used a Chromebook yet that has a poor typing experience (the clutter-free layout probably helps here a lot), touchpads are good across the board and so are speakers. It’s the displays on Chromebooks that are really dragging these great laptops down. A 1366 x 768 panel in 2014 is okay for an 11.6-inch machine, and it’s baffling in the 13 and 14-inch models available. Sure, there’s the Samsung Chromebook 2 with a 13.3-inch 1080p model available, but the Exynos CPU cannot hold its own against the Haswell offerings found elsewhere. Performance wise, the Celerons in most of the Chromebooks available work well too, but something with a little more oomph is required and thankfully, Acer is changing that with an i3 model of the excellent C720. No Chromebook should ship with any less than 4GB of RAM and sadly for our friends across the pond in the UK, Acer only ship 2GB models.
I’m not so sure it would be easy enough for companies like HP, Acer, Dell and Samsung to start offering options on their Chromebooks a that could defeat their simple appeal. Something has to change though, it’s 2014 and the internet is a hungry mistress, Full HD video is all over the place, websites are built with high-resolution assets and we use the web for more than we have ever done before. Those of us that do most of work or whatever online shouldn’t have to deal with displays from last decade and have to micro-manage our tabs. Hopefully, this holiday season will see the arrival of higher-specced, more appealing Chromebooks and if such a thing were to happen, then Microsoft need to be very worried.