Chromebooks have literally taken the educational and professional worlds by complete storm. Lightweight, cheap, and generally capable of getting the job done, they present an appeal that traditional systems (read: Mac and Windows) do not. They are also, exclusively powered by apps that are often, freely accessible on the Play Store. So smart and cutting edge is the impact of Chrome OS that Windows had to hastily announce the Windows 11 OS SE, a ‘lightweight’ version of Windows 11 targeted at institutions and learners, generally; the core market of Chrome OS and Chromebooks.
The grand plan was to kick Chromebooks out of the market it already dominates: academics, research, and the classrooms. PCWorld called this creation of Windows, the Chromebook killer 🙂
However, that in itself, is only where the story begins. It is also the point where the story also gets exciting and becomes truly worthy of close and curious attention. The Windows 11 update (in all its variants) was a desperate and last-minute attempt by Microsoft to move Windows from clumsy programs to apps, from a cluttered design (powered majorly by bloatware that you’re not likely in need of) to the simplistic, minimalistic, and almost austere reality that has come to be associated with the Chrome OS and is, as a matter of fact, its very own hallmark and unique DNA.
This design and core philosophy copy did not stop there: the placement of the apps on Windows 11 was further effected to mimic the app shelf style that has also come to be associated with and is known to be the style of the highly simplistic (but very efficient) Chrome OS.
Offered by a leading company of the Chromebook revolution, HP, the x360 14a Chromebook is a clamshell powered 14 inch Chromebook that is smartly designed in such a manner that its hinges are capable of a 360-degree turn and the screen, while at it, is capable of turning the entire ‘laptop’ into tablet mode with all the excitement that such versatility ensures. Factor in the super responsive touchscreen and the business of the day is almost complete.
However, unlike traditional tablets with detachable keyboards, the x360 14a has a large enough screen and the keyboard is standard, akin to the regular-sized keyboard on a comparable-sized Mac or Windows machine. The net implication of this is that typing and typical tasks that demand more display action such as movies are handled brilliantly in such a manner that one would be tempted to ask how the x360 managed to get itself classed as a budget Chromebook in the first place.
However, it isn’t all roses with the x360 14a Chromebook…
There are some things that are worth noting, that may, in fact, qualify as cons – if you choose to look at them that way: a less-than-ideal display reality (especially if you’re using the Chromebook outdoors), and the clear lack of a backlit keyboard, are some of the issues you must deal with and understand upfront.
This review will highlight these and point out others, from a practical, user-centric point of view. Accordingly, I’ll not be bothering you with the benchmark tests and the numerous videos and photos that serve largely to confuse the non-tech inclined.
I’ll also be slightly biased toward the writing and authoring audience as I believe this is the major demographic that HP had in mind when it thought out and brought forth this Chromebook. Personally, this is what informed my choice of the Chromebook and I have been using the x360 14a for over a year now to perform writing and blogging tasks daily, and never has it failed or had me wishing for something else.
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Pros And Cons Of The x360 Chromebook
Irrespective of how great a thing is, there are always cons to the mix. Usually, major cons are what constitute deal breakers while minor cons can easily be overlooked without any challenges or consequences.
The tricky part is that you’re the only one who can decide what a major con is and which to be considered minor. Here, presented, I leave it to your discretion to decide if these cons are deal-breakers and if these pros are worth your money at the end of the day.
Pros Of The HP x360 Chromebook
- An impressive battery life that easily breezes through the work day without the need for a charger and enough juice left for some light fun at home after work.
- A responsive and easy-to-use touch display.
- Quiet, fanless operation.
- A standard, easy-to-use keyboard that is paired with a 14-inch display making typing and normal use a breeze.
- A two-in-one reality that easily sees the x360 transform from Clamshell to tablet mode or if you prefer, a tent mode, making it, effectively, a 3-in-1 unit.
- Dolby-tuned speakers, smartly positioned for perfect audio content consumption.
- USB type C fast charging with an included 45W charger and dual charging ports.
Cons Of The HP x360 Chromebook
- No ambient light sensor; the display thus suffers in bright light and may overcompensate in darker environments as a result.
- The keyboard isn’t backlit.
- The trackpad could be more precise and quieter.
The x360 14a is a budget Chromebook that is a complete steal for the money, especially if you need it for basic tasks like writing, editing, word processing, web surfing, and online content consumption.
For writers and bloggers, few options exist that are better than it, especially if your Chromebook must check the monster battery life (13+ hours per charge); versatility (can change from clamshell mode to tablet or tent modes in a second); ease of use on the go (a 14-inch display that total, weighs only an insignificant 3.3 lb); and the affordability (it retails around the $300 mark, most of the time) boxes.
Before you open your wallet, however, be sure that you can live with its limitations as chronicled in the rest of the article below.
Specs Of The x360 14a Chromebook
|Processor||Intel® Pentium® Silver N5000 (1.1 GHz base frequency, up to 2.7 GHz burst frequency)|
|Memory (As Tested)||4 GB LPDDR4-2400 MHz RAM (onboard)|
|Hard Drive||64 GB eMMC|
|Display||14″ diagonal, HD (1366 x 768); touch enabled|
|Maximum Display Brightness||220 nits|
|Screen Refresh Rate||60 Hz|
|Battery Life (As Tested)||13:17 (use case dependent; sometimes, more)|
|Dimensions (WxDxH); Weight||32.55 x 21.96 x 1.82 cm; 1.49 kg/3.28 lb|
|Power Supply/Battery Type||45W USB Type-C™ power adapter/2-cell, 47 Wh Li-ion polymer|
First Look And Impressions Of The x360 14a Chromebook
The HP x360 14a Chromebook came packed in a regular manner as all HP laptops do. Opening it, it was easy to confuse it with a higher-end laptop instead of the budget and super affordable Chromebook that it is. When I removed it from the wrap and nylon and general shipping material, I was impressed and my eye could not believe what was before me.
The silver color gave it a finish that mimicked the MacBook Air of the same generation and its 3.30 lbs did not show at all. If anything, the Chromebook appeared lighter than I expected; its edges were well-rounded, its ports thoughtfully positioned, and the unit, overall, gave off a general aura of thoughtfulness in the design process and a finishing that appeared clearly to be more premium than it is common or expected at its price point.
Being an x360, I was bothered about the hinges being sturdy enough to hold the laptop and stand the rigors of the conversions back and forth from the clamshell reality to the tablet mode and back.
However, I was also impressed that even in this regard, opening the Chromebook and closing it gave out an assurance that the hinges were sturdy enough to handle not only the conversion process but also the daily use case challenges of the upwardly mobile.
Those were my initial thoughts when I first opened the unit more than a year ago. Now, after daily use for over 15 months, I haven’t had any cause to doubt my original position or retract the sentiments I first had. The magnetic suction of the upper lid has also remained as effective and as badass during closure as I first experienced when I opened and closed the Chromebook for the very first time.
However, it hasn’t been all roses though. After over a year of daily use, there have been some expectations that haven’t been met and there are some things I wish could be different.
Follow me down the review as I spill it all out. As you do, please, keep in mind that I’m a writer and this is what this Chromebook was primarily deployed for.
Keep this in perspective.
Design, Keyboard, Trackpad, Display & Weight
As clearly indicated from the onset, the design of the x360 14a Chromebook is great and as a matter of fact, would be hard to distinguish from a traditional and more conventional laptop if not for the badging on the lip, clearly indicating what the device is: a Chromebook. All thanks to a standard form factor, the unit is also easy and sturdy enough to work on, even for users who have had traditional laptops all their professional or school lives.
The unit is made even more possible and practical by the standard keyboard that allows for normal and extended typing periods. Soft to the touch and easy to depress, the keys always bounce back with a spring that is as interesting as it is intriguing.
Coming from an EliteBook series, powered by Windows and manufactured by HP, I did not feel cramped or ‘squeezed’ in any way. As a matter of fact, I wrote a whole book using the keyboard on this device and my fingers were very excited doing it, presenting no fatigue or tiredness of any sort throughout. I only needed to get used to the slightly better spacing of the keys here compared to the comparatively cramped keyboard of the HP EliteBook 6930p and even at that, it took me just a little over a week to get used to the new keyboard and I was typing away on the machine like I had known and used it all the days of my life.
The trackpad was precise and remains precise even after a year of almost daily use. However, the lack of a dedicated button for either right or left clicking left me ‘stranded’ for the first few days of use, especially since the Windows laptop I was coming from had these buttons. However, once the one-finger (for left-clicking) and two fingers (for right-clicking) motion was mastered, it became second nature and presented a better option than the standard reality of dedicated buttons.
The only challenge here was and remains that, the pad isn’t entirely quiet when depressed, especially when the environment of use is completely noise free. This wasn’t my experience with the EliteBook as it was quite soft to the touch and ensured a near-silent operation when in use, ambient noise notwithstanding.
The display is where the Chromebook performed slightly below expectations and I wished things were better. The native 1366 by 768 resolution display paired with the Intel UHD Graphics 605 graphics processor on a frame of 14 inches leaves more to be desired, especially when using the Chromebook outside in direct sunlight. The display handles reflection poorly and if you do not have excellent eyesight or aren’t used to using laptops or Chromebooks outdoors, you’re likely to struggle with basic operations on this unit in this circumstance.
To compensate, the Chromebook simply runs a maximum display reality every time you start it up, which is often a little more than needed and is likely to make you need the charger and a wall socket earlier than the 13-plus hours that the machine is capable of.
This, in my experience, is due to the absence of an ambient light sensor, effectively making the device display ‘dumb’ in the face of either darkness or overpowering light. You’ll need to manually adjust – to work in either extremes of darkness or night, especially when you’re at the very end of the spectrums.
Weight-wise, the x360 14a weighs in at 3.3 pounds, a respectable weight when moving it from desk to desk or if you need to carry it from one location to another. It also weighed in far less than the EliteBook that I switched from, a laptop that I used before my transition from Windows to Chrome OS.
However, that said, it must be mentioned also that the weight point, at 3.3 lb is clearly more than the traditional tablet weight. When the 14-inch display reality is also factored in, the device clearly does not lend itself to easy one-handed use and operation like an 8-9 inch-ish tablet like the iPad Mini (for instance).
This is something you need to take note of if you’re planning to primarily use the Chromebook in its tablet mode or at least, will be using the tablet mode most of the time.
Ports And Battery Life
The HP x360 14a 2-In-1 Chromebook under review here comes standard with exactly five ports; three on the left when in normal clamshell operating position and two on the right in the same mode.
There’s an SD card slot on the left, a USB type C charging port right after that, and then, a 3.5mm headphone jack farther away. The power switch, in addition also happens to be on that side, the very first on the roll of ports there.
On the right, there’s a USB type C charging port and then, a standard USB type A port. Beyond these, you’ll also find the positive and negative volume controls on this side too.
The fact that the Chromebook can be charged from either side makes it a joy to plug in and even use, especially in tight corners and spaces. However, the presence of only one USB type A port might be a cause for concern for you, if you happen to love and use the port.
Personally, I haven’t bothered with it since I bought the x360 (traditional flash drives don’t work with Chrome OS; I use the SD card slot instead, when necessary) so it might not even exist, for all I care. If the SD card option isn’t your thing, you can save all your files in the cloud directly, as I do all important files of mine.
However, if this USB A port makes sense to you or you have any use for it, this might be something to consider and put into perspective.
Battery-wise, the x360 14a Chromebook is rated to last for 13.25 hours, brand new from the factory.
In my tests and use case, I found out that with conservative use (basic word processing with light music in the background and the display set at the very lowest), I was able to consistently achieve over 14 hours of use per charge, for the first 8 months or so.
However, after that, the battery dipped to about 13 + hours a charge with careful use. However, with videos, connection to the internet, and the display set at around the midpoint, I found out that I averaged about 8 hours when new and between 6 and 7 hours after a year of intense use as a daily user.
Looked at from any angle, what is certain is that, this Chromebook is designed with a battery that is powerful enough to take you through a whole business or academic day when it is new and even after a whole year of truly serious use.
This is likely to continue to be the case, judging from my estimation and experience thus far.
I also believe (based on the extremely slow battery degradation) that this will hold true for the second year of my use and even the third. When the Chromebook will need a plug-in to be able to navigate through the business or academic day, it will also be in its last year of life, having reached its End of Life Updates.
At that point, a new one will be needed, either way. Note however that, if you do not stress yours daily and for long hours as I do, you’re likely to breeze through a whole day of charge right to the very end of the HP x360a 2-In-1 Chromebook’s life.
Battery, Charging Options/Times, And Practicality
The HP x360 14a 2-In-1 Chromebook is powered by a 2-cell, 47Wh Li-ion battery that is inbuilt and not meant to be user replaceable. This is something that should have ordinarily bothered me, coming from a laptop that was powered with a user-replaceable battery and one that actually saw many batteries run their cycles, become redundant, and actually got replaced eventually.
However, since the Chromebook has a definite lifespan and the battery, according to its degradation pattern, will brilliantly serve for its entire life, I decided not to worry too much. You shouldn’t too.
Powered with two USB type-C ports on both sides of the Chromebook, it is capable of receiving a charge from either port with the provided 45W power adapter, supplied with it.
This charger is long enough to use in the tightest of corners and comes standard with the US plug type (though it is not unusual to see the same Chromebook, designed and supplied for other markets bear the plug type prevalent and acceptable in/for that market).
This charger takes approximately an hour and forty (1:40) minutes to charge the battery to full capacity, from a flat state. More than 50% of this charge is achieved in the first 20-30 minutes.
This super fast charging reality, it must be noted, isn’t restricted to any charging port: both charging ports are capable of receiving power in this manner and I remember clearly that while I use the right-hand port more than the left (because of my dominant hand orientation and the placement of most of the wall outlets I use), the left, on the few times I actually tried it out, worked as flawlessly as the right, with absolutely no charge lags or noticeable differences from the left.
Being 14 inches, the x360 14a Chromebook presented a form factor that was no different from the Windows laptop I was coming from. Initially, I thought of the unit as more of an extension of my smartphone – since both use apps (from the same store) and a similar OS.
This feeling was fueled initially by my inability to find suitable apps to replace the many programs I had come to depend on daily with the Windows system especially programs made especially for writers in mind.
However, after months of playing around with it, mastering its keyboard, and complimenting it with research, I was able to finally get a replacement for every program I used on Windows – from Docs to PixelLab and everything else in between (and most of them were completely free to download and use).
Granted, it took some time but finally, I have replaced my Windows system with something that is lighter, faster, and certainly, more secure.
If this isn’t the textbook case of practicality, I don’t know what else to call it.
FAQs Of The HP x360 14a 2-In-1 Chromebook
There are a lot of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) surrounding this Chromebook. While some of the questions have been answered already, some haven’t yet presented themselves with a clear, definite answer. This is the section where I proffer these answers as comprehensively, yet as concisely as possible.
1. Can The HP x360 14a Chromebook Be Infected With Virus Or Malware?
Traditional viruses cannot infect Chromebooks. This is largely because over 90% of viruses and malware today are targeted towards either Windows or the Mac OS.
However, in the rare event that a virus makes its way to the system, it isn’t likely to survive the multi-security approach of the Chrome OS architecture: each tab is sandboxed and on closure, everything that may have come with it is wiped.
Further, on each start-up, an integrity check is conducted by the OS to ensure that the system copy installed matches the version kept as a cross-reference on Google servers. If there’s a discrepancy, an automatic correction ensures, silently and painlessly, under seconds.
However, you aren’t protected against phishing attacks. For this, you may need to get a dedicated service in the form of a frequently updated antivirus app or simply employ more care when online.
2. When Was The HP Chromebook x360 14a Released?
The HP Chromebook x360 was released on 12th October 2021 to the general public.
However, it is important to point out that this isn’t the date when the device hit the shelves. Actual availability depended on outlet policies and stock availability.
3. What Is The Auto Update Expiration (AUE) Date For The HP x360 14a-ca0022nr 2-In-1 Chromebook?
The Auto Update Expiration (AUE) date for the HP Chromebook x360 14a-ca0022nr is June 2027. After this date, security updates and support will not be offered for this Chromebook model again.
4. What Happens When A Chromebook ‘Expires’?
Don’t worry though: usually, this period comes after 4 to 6 years of a device’s life – which in my considered opinion, is a long time to use a laptop or Chromebook for that matter.
5. Does A HP Chromebook Run Windows?
No. A HP Chromebook (or any other Chromebook for that matter) runs a dedicated, budget-friendly OS, different from Windows and Mac OS. This operating system is called Chrome OS. It is lighter, faster, and way more secure than either Windows or Mac OS.
6. How Long Does It Take A Chromebook To Boot?
It takes a Chromebook less than 5 seconds to boot, from a complete restart or cold boot. However, in some specific cases, especially on newer Chromebooks with some badass RAM and configuration, this process is almost instant and takes way less than 3 seconds, from being flat and switched off to being completely ready to use.
Summary And Alternatives: Should You Buy The HP x360 14a 2-In-1 Chromebook?
The HP x360 14a 2-In-1 Chromebook is one hell of a budget Chromebook that is actually well-made, quite sturdy, and one that can easily take a beating like a true champ.
On first look, you’ll be excused to believe that it is actually a high-end device like Apple’s Macbook Air or Dell’s XPS 13. As a matter of fact, only Google’s ‘Chromebook’ label on the lid gives it away – all thanks to its classic metallic finish and well-thought-out design and overall style.
However, with a RAM of 4GB and an overall onboard storage space of just 64 GB, this Chromebook is targeted at writers, bloggers, and all those who are on the word-processing end of things – which I found that the 14-inch display coupled with the standard keyboard does enough justice to, without ensuring fatigue of any sort.
However, if you’re on the graphic end of things or love to game, you’ll find its Intel Pentium Silver N5000 processor slow and its 220 nits max display inadequate, especially without an ambient light sensor.
Further, you’ll find the conversion to a more suitable tablet interface cumbersome, when attempting to manipulate the 14 inches this Chromebook comes standard in. If you’re a game person or your work requires graphics, you’ll be better served by the Vibe C55 Flip Chromebook from Asus or the Chromebook Flip (still from the same manufacturer).
However, if you’re a writer, blogger, secretary or one whose core needs around computing and computers revolve around word processing, emailing, basic browsing, occasional photo editing, and some light video content consumption, there’s certainly no other budget Chromebook that beats this, especially if you’re looking to completely replace your Windows or Mac and battery life is of the utmost essence (think a whole business, work or academic day).