Hewlett-Packard’s Chromebook x360 started out as a laptop just for students, but now its available to everyone.
As computers evolved over the years, portability became a huge factor in advancing the tech. In fact, while the laptop computer was once the only mobile device to choose from, not all laptops are great while on-the-go. Enter the HP Chromebook X360, a type of computer that runs on an operating system created by Google and based on the Chrome web browser. Fast on processing speed but low on built-in memory, these computers are for people who can all they need to do via the web or Google’s integrated apps. Because they aren’t really a hardware manufacturer, Google partnered with a number of PC makers for these netbooks.
The HP Chromebook x360 started out as a laptop only available for purchase by educational institutions. Yet, last year, they brought the design to the general public, and it’s a great little device for people who need mobility. If you used a lot of third-party programs, it may not be for you. But if you can access the programs you need via the Internet, such as Microsoft’s web-based portal for Office, then you’ll want to read on. We'll tell you exactly what you need to know to decide whether or not the HP Chromebook X360 is right for your needs.
What is a Chromebook?
In 2011, Google entered the computer operating system game, just as it’s smartphone OS, Android, proved to be a worthy contender with Apple’s iOS. Their plan was to pare down the programs and apps running in the background, slowing the machine down. To that end, they developed the Chrome OS using Linux and based on the company’s web browser of the same name. At first, people were skeptical of this, especially because one needed to be connected to the internet to use it. At the time, public wifi was rare and service was spotty.
Still, those first machines – made by Acer and Samsung – were well-reviewed, especially as a computer for students. On campuses, wireless internet is readily available and most schools have some kind of web interface. This is where the HP Chromebook x360 came in, because Chromebooks represent over half of the mobile computing devices purchased by schools. The original model of the device was exclusive to educational institutions, but now a version exists for the general public.
Can You Use It Even If You Can’t Get Online?
The biggest drawback for the HP Chromebook x360 and any similar devices is the necessity of an internet connection to really make the most of it. However, there are somethings you can do offline. Storage comes at a premium on these devices, however most feature slots for removable memory, either via USB or a microSD card. This will greatly expand your ability to store files on the device. You can set device to download your Google app files, which allows you to work on them offline. You can also copy the offline files if you want to start with a blank one. There is also a rudimentary photo editor and file viewer. Some news apps and games also have an offline mode.
However, for pretty much everything else, an internet connection is essential. The continued success of the Chromebook is owed to the increased availability of apps and services through a web-based interface. For example, you cannot download Microsoft Office programs onto this device. However, if you have an Office account, you can use any of those apps online via Office Live. You can also use other apps, like Skype or Adobe products, via their web portals. This computer will definitely come in handy, but it will likely not be your only computer.
Who Should Invest in a HP Chromebook x360?
The HP Chromebook x360 earned its reputation as a great device for students, but its usefulness is not limited to writing term papers and chatting online during lectures. In fact, if you pair this with a mobile hotspot, either through your phone or a data-enabled modem, the HP Chromebook x360 could work for tasks where mobility is key. From reporters covering campaign events to project managers wrangling a dozen contractors, it’s a solid device that can survive some rough handling.
Again, if your work relies on a program that doesn’t have a web-based interface or a specially-designed Android app, you likely won’t be able to install it on the HP Chromebook x360. Still, using Google docs, you can record the information you need until you can get to your desktop or other work laptop. It’s a more versatile device that many expect, and one those who have one come to rely on. In fact, this very article was written on an HP Chromebook.
How is the HP Chromebook x360 Best Used?
One of the things that makes the HP Chromebook x360 unique is that it is a convertible. Of course, we’re not talking about a fast car, but rather that this device can both be used as a laptop or a touch-tablet. The keyboard folds over, and you can let your fingers do the computing. This works great in situations where you can’t really set the device down to type, but using your fingers can be slow and awkward. Though, it would likely get easier as you get used to using it that way.
Like with almost all convertibles, whether you think it works better as a laptop or a tablet largely depends on your taste. If you are more familiar with using a laptop, that’s likely what you prefer. Either way, the minimalist OS interface works equally well in both scenarios.
The HP Chromebook x360 Features and Benefits:
Take a look below for our deep-dive into the HP Chromebook x360. We’re going to look at the device from a number of angles. Hopefully, the following sections will help you decide if the HP Chromebook x360 is the netbook you need.
1. The Design
Like all of these devices, smaller is usually better. Thanks to how pared down the hardware is in these devices, they can get pretty slim. At two pounds, the HP Chromebook x360 runs on the thicker side, but that’s because it’s designed to take a beating. You can get two sizes, 11-inch or 14-inch. The touchscreen is made with Gorilla Glass, so it’s about as crack-resistant as you can get (for now, at least). The rest of the device is covered with a polymer shell also designed to handle some rough treatment, including drops. There are built-in speakers, but if you plan to listen to music or watch video, you’ll want to get a Bluetooth speaker or headset.
2. Under the Hood
The HP Chromebook x360 runs some pretty standard fare under its hood, though it should be able to handle whatever you throw at it. It starts with an Intel Celeron N3350 dual-core processor, running at 1.1 GHz, on the low end, and 2.4 GHz on the high end. This means that unless you are using a very graphics-intensive site, you should see no problems with performance or speed. One of the best things about a Chromebook, especially for PC users, is how quickly they boot up. This device is no different, taking about ten seconds to get up and running. The hard drive, such as it is, is a flash memory solid state drive. Finally, it can connect with 802.11.b, 802.11.g, and 802.11.n wireless types.
3. Memory and Features
When it comes to memory, there are two options. You can get an HP Chromebook x360 with either 4 GB of RAM and 32 GB of memory or 8 GB of RAM and 64 GB of memory. In this case, all you really need to consider is the amount of storage you want. There doesn’t seem to be that much difference in performance between the two devices where RAM is concerned. Of course, if you need more memory, that’s a possibility thanks to the ports on the device.
The HP Chromebook x360 comes with four USB ports, a Type A port and a Type C port on either side of the device. There is also a microSD slot, which would allow you to store music, books, or other space-heavy files for offline usage. While the device does feature Bluetooth connectivity, there is also a tradition headphone/microphone jack for media or teleconferencing. The device also comes with a Kensington Lock, a type of security device to keep folks from running off with your computer.
4. Out In the Wild
As mentioned above, the HP Chromebook x360 will almost certainly not be your only computer. So, how it performs out in the world is the true test of its value. When it comes to battery life, the HP Chromebook x360 does very well. Depending on screen brightness, you can expect it to last anywhere from eight to 11 hours. Its small size makes it easy to stick in a bag or even to carry with you. It also comes with a stylus about the size of a pen. It doesn’t stow inside the device but is useful if you plan to use tablet-mode often. The keyboard is small, obviously, but the keys have a nice click to them. The trackpad is also smooth, though you might find it easier to use a Bluetooth or wireless mouse, especially if you do a lot of highlighting or dragging-and-dropping.
What Are People Saying About the HP Chromebook x360?
Customer reviews for the HP Chromebook x360 are mostly positive, with over three-quarters of them rating it four-stars or higher. What they love about the device is mentioned above, with battery life, speed, and durability mentioned the most. Those who had bad experiences seem to have suffered from failures in the individual devices rather than a systemic problem. Some of the problems mentioned are those you find with any laptop, such as inability to charge, overheating, and screen-connection problems.
Alternatives to the HP Chromebook x360:
We happen to think that the HP Chromebook X360 is one of the best on the market. However, if you disagree, here are three Lux Authority-approved alternatives. See if one of these meets your needs:
1. Acer Chromebook R 11
This device is perhaps the most similar to the HP Chromebook x360, but it costs a little less. It’s similarly well-reviewed, Featuring much of the same hardware inside, this device is a good alternative for those who don’t want to spend more than on this sort of device. However, the Acer R11 is not nearly as durable as the HP Chromebook x360, so you run the risk of damage if you just toss it in your bag or the backseat of the car. Still, in terms of performance, you’d likely not see much of difference between the two devices.
2. HP Chromebook 14-Inch Laptop
This HP Chromebook is much different than the HP Chromebook x360 in a number of ways. The first is that this is simply a laptop, without the capability to work as a tablet computer. The inner workings are essentially the same, though this device comes with only 16 GB of internal flash memory. However, the trade off is that in purchasing this device, you get two free years of 100 GB of cloud storage with Google Drive. What really sets this device apart from its cousin is the screen. The 14-inch diagonal HD SVA anti-glare WLED backlit display is more powerful than the HP Chromebook x360’s.
3. The Google Pixelbook
Even though Google didn’t start out as a computer manufacturer, it’s recently gotten into the game with it’s Pixel-branded devices. If what you like best about the HP Chromebook x360 is the Chrome OS, this may be the computer you are looking for. Dubbed a high-performance Chromebook, the Pixelbook is more like a traditional laptop. It boasts up to 128 GB of storage and 8 GB of RAM. The screen is made of Gorilla glass, so it’s very durable. This device is much pricier than the others in this post. However, since traditional laptops can cost thousands of dollars, this falls on the lower-end of that price-scale.
The HP Chromebook x360 is a great multi-purpose laptop for working on-the-go, but it probably won’t be your only computer.
The future of computing is mobile, and that puts the HP Chromebook x360 on the right path to staying relevant. Increasingly, people are relying on the cloud and web interfaces both for business and pleasure. As we pare down our personal computers to the bare essentials, the minimalist design and function of the Chromebook is something we are likely all going to have to get used to.
What do you think? Share your thoughts, reactions, and experiences in the comments below. Remember to share the article online to get your friends in on the conversation.
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