Chromebooks were once supposed to be the answer to affordable laptops, especially when the netbooks segment died down. But Google’s take on affordable, on the cloud, computing did not gather much steam in India. Now, Chromebooks are making a comeback into India and given how the Internet has become both ubiquitous and affordable in India, this might finally be the right time to adopt a connected laptop.
HP Chromebook x360 price in India: Rs 52,990
HP Chromebook x360 specs: Chrome OS | Intel® Core™ i5 8250U | 8 GB DDR4-2133 SDRAM | 64 GB eMMC RAM | 35.56 cm (14) diagonal FHD IPS BrightView WLED-backlit (1920 x 1080p) | 2 USB 3.1 Gen 1 Type-C + 1 USB 3.1 Gen 1 | 3.5mm jack | 802.11a/b/g/n/ac WiFi | Bluetooth 4.0 | 3-cell 60Wh Li-Ion processor | 1.68 kg
The 14-inch HP Chromebook x360 has a very conventional look. It seems like the sort of notebook you would see a student use for her college work. However, as the 360 in the name suggests, this device can do a bit more than regular notebooks. In fact, it has a 180-degree hinge that lets the screen fold fully towards the back, making this a tablet or a device from which you can easily share or showcase content with someone else. The transition between the modes is instant and there is no drama of switching from a laptop mode to a tablet one. The device is also lightweight at just about 1.7 kg and can easily be held in one hand. However, I felt that at some angles the screen showed a tendency to fall back a bit.
That is because Chromebooks are based on the Chrome OS and it has a very singular feel across devices and formats. It is a Chrome browser with the apps that you will get from the Play Store. But most of the apps open within the browser itself as a tab and there is not much that works locally.
However, the HP Chromebook x360 packs an 8th gen Intel Core i5 processor, because we know that the Chrome browser itself can get resource intensive when we end up with multiple tabs. I tried working with as many as 15 tabs open on the browser and experience was quite smooth. Also, the Chromebook is ready when you want it. Open the laptop and it opens where you left it and that is something I really loved, as a person who instinctively shuts down my device every time a move a bit.
The 14-inch tablet comes with a full HD display, which is functional and offers a good touch experience too. The screen is quite bright and there is a softer night mode for those who prefer that to the white screen. Facing it is a full keyboard with backlighting. I liked the amount of travel the keyboard offered and it took just a few minutes for me to adjust to the keys. The trackpad is smooth and very responsive. It also supports the option to zoom out on the open apps. The audio is not very loud though.
Working on a Chromebook is as simple as computing can be, after all we are all used to working on the Chrome browser. The Chromebook was initially created on the thinking that most of us spend a big chunk of our computing time on the browser. So you can do everything you do on the Chrome browser and if you have presets on your browser like web extensions they will all load here too within minutes of set up. You can add a lot of apps too like Spotify, KineMaster or Snapseed. In fact, I loaded even Photoshop — if it is on Google Playstore, it should work here. However, some apps — like the Indian Express Android app — load in mobile view.
The battery life is quite good and despite being online all the time it gave over six hours of work time. You can get some more juice if you go offline, but that will mean limited abilities.
Overall, the HP Chromebook x360 is a good device for those who will spend most of their time browsing, writing or consuming content. If your organisation in on Google Suite, then also this device makes a lot of sense to work on of Gmail, Docs and Sheets. Given that a Windows device at this price point won’t most probably give you a touch screen, it might a good option to look at the Chromebook. I suggest this for students too, maybe a cheaper version without the 360-degree screen and touch.