Google and HP have collaborated on a sleek new Chromebook that should please shoppers on a budget this holiday. For just $279, the Chromebook 11 offers a premium design, a bright display with wide viewing angles and your choice of four accent colors for both the black and white versions of the device. The Chromebook packs a Samsung Exynos ARM processor.
Weighing a little over 2 pounds and measuring 11.7 x 7.55 x 0.7 inches thick, the Chromebook 11 feels pretty sturdy despite its plastic build. That’s because Google and HP bonded the plastic shell to a rigid magnesium frame. You can order the device in white or piano black, but we prefer the white version because it looks more clean and modern.
MORE: Top 20 Chrome Apps
Whichever model you choose, you can take your pick of four accent colors: red, green, blue and yellow. The accent is on the back, and it runs around the edge of the keyboard. Just like the Chromebook Pixel, the back of the lid has an LED light strip that glows the four different colors.
In an interesting design twist, the Chromebook 11 sports a microUSB port, which means you can use the notebook’s charger with all sorts of other gadgets, including your phone. The left side also houses two USB 2.0 ports (not 3.0) and a headphone jack.
The Chromebook 11 is powered by a Samsung dual-core Exynos 5250 processor, which should provide snappy performance. In early testing, this CPU isn’t as powerful as Intel-powered Chromebooks but on a par to slightly faster than the ARM-powered Samsung Chromebook Series 3.
Google says this device should last up to 6 hours on a charge, which is good but not fabulous. The Samsung Chromebook Series 3 lasted 7:34 on our battery test. Other specs include 2GB of RAM and a 16GB SSD.
In our brief hands-on time, the Chromebook 11′s keyboard offered good travel. In a wise move, Google placed the speakers for the Chromebook 11 underneath the keyboard. Google says it worked with HP to fine tune the speakers, and the result is fairly crisp audio. When we streamed “Roll Away Your Stone” by Mumford & Sons, the audio was loud without being tinny.
Those who purchase the Chromebook 11 will also receive 100GB of Google Drive cloud storage free for two years, a 60-day trial of Google Play Music All Access, and 12 free sessions of GoGo Inflight Internet.
Overall, the HP Chromebook 11 looks like a sexy and solid option for the price–if you’re living to live with Chrome OS’ limitations. But it will have some competition from the Windows side of the house. Right now you can get a touchscreen Asus laptop for just $329 in the Q200. Stay tuned for our full review soon.