If you want to know whether or not you are getting the new Chromebook 15 laptop from HP, you need to figure out what your priorities are.
On the one hand, the ChromeOS-based machine is a major improvement over the Chromebook 14 we looked at each other this year. In comparison, it runs like a dream and the new form factor is sleek and attractive. It’s just a much more pleasant device that can be used in every way.
On the other hand, all of these improvements come at a cost. Starting at $ 450, it’s almost $ 200 more expensive than the starting price for the shoddy (but still perfectly usable) Chromebook 14. The improvements are certainly worth the price increase, but owning a Chromebook means making certain concessions, which may not work as well if you lose nearly $ 500 on them.
If you’re okay with living fully in Google’s digital ecosystem, and accept all the tradeoffs that come with that, then this is a damn good Chromebook. However, if internal storage capacity and compatibility are important to you, you can probably find a better alternative for the price.
Now, if you’re looking to buy a Chromebook, you probably know the practice. Like everyone else, this is a laptop that runs everything through Google. You sign in with your Google account at startup, you use Chrome for everything, and most importantly, you are expected to make up for the low internal storage with heavy use of the cloud.
There are no fundamental differences between the Chromebooks 14 and 15 in this regard. It works the same way and in my experience does exactly what it is supposed to.
The big gap between the two from a usability standpoint is performance. The Intel Core processor that powers it is more than ready for things like surfing the Internet, working, and streaming. I didn’t find the Chromebook 14 enough in this department, but the 15 runs like a dream in comparison.
Whether surfing with multiple tabs open or watching high resolution, high frame rate videos, I didn’t notice any issues worth mentioning like with the 14. This is still just a $ 450 laptop so not a powerhouse or anything. That said, I was really pleased with how smooth it was in my experience with the 14 earlier this year.
With that in mind, I think this should be an attractive option for students who can’t or won’t afford something like a MacBook. It may be limited in its performance (more on that later), but it is pleasantly problem-free when it comes to everyday work or entertainment.
Aside from performance gains, the most noticeable new feature on this Chromebook is its physical design. Gone are the sturdy but inconspicuous plastic from the last time. Instead, it’s sleek, metallic, and quite frankly, pretty good-looking.
The 15-inch touchscreen is still a bit too reflective for my taste, but it is bright and the resolution of 1,920 x 1,080 is sufficiently sharp. The keyboard has a full number pad and, like last time, feels a lot better than the travesty of the MacBook Pro keyboard. It also has a perfectly working webcam and Bang & Olufsen speakers that can really scream if you let them.
It’s a little big and heavy for something that is probably best for a student’s portable life, but not enough to be a deal breaker. Maybe it’s a net positive because it still has an excellent port selection, just like the Chromebook 14. Two USB-C ports join a regular Type-A port, a micro SD slot, and one Headphone jack.
Aside from Ethernet and HDMI, it’s pretty much anything you could want. At a time when we’re all just doing our best to make ends meet, it’s inspiring to see the new Chromebook take on a real shine.
ChromeOS is still ChromeOS
My main problem with the Chromebook 15 is partly practical and partly philosophical. In practice, $ 450 is a bit high for just 4GB of RAM and 64GB of internal storage. Yes, you can move most of your storage to the cloud as Google intended, but you can get a lot more from a Windows laptop for a similar price.
You can pay more to get more RAM and storage space, but that doesn’t really solve the problem. It arguably only degrades the inherent value of the computer.
Philosophically, I’m still not the biggest fan of how limited ChromeOS feels. Compatibility with Android apps is good, but it’s still not nearly what a similarly priced Windows laptop would offer. If you tend to play video games on your laptop occasionally, you should probably look elsewhere.
Even so, I understand that there are people who don’t bother with these things and who like to work within the confines of Google. For these folks, the Chromebook 15 is worth a look.
However, if you’re thinking about getting a new Chromebook, you should at least research other options. You might not think you need tons of RAM, internal storage, or app compatibility, but these things never hurt.
However, if we judge the Chromebook 15 by what it has, rather than what it doesn’t, there’s a lot to like. It looks great and is great to use. If nothing else, it’s a hell of a good improvement over the Chromebook 14.
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