Saturday, 22 Sep 2018

Review: HP Chromebook 13 G1

At our request, HP sent us their Chromebook 13 G1 for a review and as noted earlier, we really liked our first impressions. It’s just a very pretty laptop that would look nice at home as well as in a business environment due to the brushed aluminum case.

Due to the tapered edges, the Chromebook feels thin in your hands: 0.5 in/1.27 cm, which is thinner than 13″ MacBook Pro (0.59 in/1.49 cm) but mostly thicker than a 12″ MacBook which tapers from 0.14 in/0.36 cm to 0.52 in/1.32 cm high. When using this Chromebook, I noticed several times that I’m used to opening laptops with one hand. There’s no way to do that with this Chromebook; the hinge is just not supple enough. You could say that this is a question of weight, but with the (admittedly twice as expensive) 12″ MacBook, this is no problem.

Android apps

The current crop of Chromebooks is quite interesting because some of them can run Android apps. This first came to the so-called beta channel, so you’d have to switch from “stable” to “beta”, but that’s no longer necessary. After updating to the latest ChromeOS version, we ran the Google Play store, and installed Plex, 3D Mark and Asphalt 8.

Plex worked remarkedly well. I watched a couple of series from my Plex server. The screen is well enough, but although the internal speakers are B&O branded, I’d say they are okay for its size. Don’t expect too much of it. The Chromebook has a headphone jack so our suggestion would be to use decent cans.

We also ran 3D Mark Slingshot benchmark. It’s a heavy duty benchmark and the integrated Intel graphics don’t perform well: the framerate hovers around 9 FPS. The end score was 2336. As a comparison, last year’s 9.7″ iPad Pro does 2806 on this benchmark. Although that may sound bleak for the Chromebook, please read on.

After installing Gameloft’s Asphalt 8 we had some fun on the racing track. The game is playable with WASD or arrow keys and runs pretty smoothly. It’s an unexpected surprise and we actually had great fun with it.

Dock

HP also has the HP Elite USB-C docking station (model TPA-B01) available for use with the Chromebook. Of course, the first thing one would do with an HP dock is hook it up to Apple hardware. Our Late 2016 15″ MacBook Pro didn’t do great, to say the least. It charged with 39W, but not a single port on the hub worked.

On the Chromebook however, it’s extremely nice. The dock comes with four USB ports, one USB-C port, ethernet, audio and two video ports (HDMI and DisplayPort). It’s perfect for corporate usage, because it comes with a captive cable and a Kensington slot. The business use case is great: walk over to whatever desk has a monitor and keyboard/mouse, plunk down the Chromebook, hook it up with a single cable to the dock and you’re ready to go. The whole experience of hooking the Chromebook to our usual desktop setup and just start your workday on an 28″ 4K display is fantastic.

Conclusion

Overall, the HP Elite lives up to its name, and with device, you won’t go wrong. HP has done it again by delivering a quality product suitable for business needs as well as home tasks. You won’t regret buying the HP Elite!