HP Chromebook 14 Review

It’s been about a year since I started using a laptop full-time to manage my WordPress blog and surf the web. The iPad I used was great…as a tablet. But pushing it to be more caused frustration and disappointment. Why force a tablet to be a laptop when you can just use an actual laptop?

So I bought a Chromebook.

HP Chromebook 14

For a blogger who types a lot, you gotta have a keyboard. iPads are glass slabs without a physical keyboard; laptops have them built-in.

You can use a bluetooth keyboard with an iPad; I tried. But it lacks palm rests and isn’t lappable…unlike laptops! When you type a lot, you notice these things.

I’ve owned different laptops over the years:

  • Windows notebooks from Dell and Asus
  • A white plastic MacBook designed by Apple in California
  • A Samsung Chromebook

But my latest is the best.

Hardware

Body

My HP Chromebook 14 has a smooth white plastic lid with a mirrored chrome “HP” circle logo in the center. There’s one simple long hinge that holds tightly. The base is a matte silver aluminum, tapering to the front. The clamshell design is sturdy, compact, and lightweight.

Display

Screen-time is easy. The IPS display, despite being 1366×768 across 14 inches, appears bright and even. Text is smooth and mostly sharp without blurred edges; reading isn’t a problem. Watching video is satisfactory. There isn’t any contrast wash-out or discoloration at extreme viewing angles.

Controls

Keyboard

The keyboard is a backlit pleasure to type on. Backlighting is an adjustable range from dim to bright. Tapping out letters flows nicely on the quiet tactile keys with just the right amount of downward travel and springy return. They feel neither wobbly nor cheap.

In the year I’ve used it, not one key has ever gotten sticky! The keyboard performs as well today as it did 12 months ago when I removed it from the box.

Trackpad

It’s smooth to the fingertips and works precisely. Two-finger scrolling is a breeze, so is swiping right to go back in the browser. Soft-tapping with one or two fingers never fails.

Pressing the track-pad down makes a nice click sound and has a firm yet soft feel. And you must click from the middle half to the front; the back is the hinge so it doesn’t depress.

Touchscreen

The HP Chromebook 14 model I have does not flip the display around into tablet mode. So the touchscreen is convenient for web page scrolling and the occasional icon tap.

Also, as much as I type text, it is sometimes easiest to place the cursor simply by tapping the screen where I want it. Touch input is responsive, and the display does not depress, warp or discolor.

hpchromebook14box

Sound

The speakers, by B&O, are upward facing from the top-rear of the base. They truly sound better than you’d expect from a skinny flat mobile computer; they’re the best I’ve heard in a laptop. The sound is very clear and full, lacking bass of course.

Since they face upward from behind the keyboard, you never need to position the laptop carefully so as to not muffle the sound on your lap or couch.

Webcam

I rarely use the webcam outside of a few Zoom or Google Meet videos. Yet I’ve noticed it has a nice wide viewing angle. And the resolution looks good. It’s not blurry, grainy, or washed-out. And it seems to do well even in dim ambient lighting.

Ports

There’s a USB-C port on the left and right side; both allow charging. And it has USB-A on both sides. The right side also has a 3.5mm headphone jack plus a microSD card slot. The only thing missing is an HDMI port. That’s inconvenient; you must use a USB-C adapter if you want to plug into a large monitor or HDTV.

Performance

Specs!

  • CPU – Intel Celeron 3350 Dual Core
  • Memory – 4GB RAM
  • Storage – 64GB eMMC

Those aren’t bad for a Chromebook. And mobile computing on this one is great. Everything works fluidly. Web browsing, of course, is quick and easy. Running Android apps from the Google Play store works well.

Battery

One of the greatest features is the 9 to 10 hour solid battery life I get from my HP Chromebook 14. With screen brightness usually around 80%, I finish my blogging work or YouTubing and get tired of sitting or standing long before the battery gets close to being drained. It can go a full day unplugged with moderate usage.

Software

Chrome OS

The Chrome operating system works beautifully. It’s still simpler and easier to use than a traditional Windows PC or Mac. I type truck loads of words in Google Docs and other apps, and I manage a mountain of pictures in Google Photos. The only things I don’t do on my Chromebook are CAD, video editing, or PC gaming.


Rating 8/10

Rating: 8 out of 10.

After using the HP Chromebook 14 everyday for over a year, it looks and works as well as the day I bought it! There’s a teeny bit of cosmetic wear and tear, but you must look for it. It travels in my backpack to work everyday as I commute.

There has been one issue with it on the software side, which was a Google cloud sync error between Google Drive and the Files app. The solution was surprisingly quick and easy: Powerwash. I did this on two separate occasions.

Each time, the Chromebook reset like new and kept all my Google account data intact by reinstalling apps and settings. The process took less than 10 minutes. When done, it was like nothing ever happened. All my stuff was there!

Most people only need a browser for most computing. A Chromebook bonus: your Android phone apps also work here!

For mobile computing, my Chromebook is fast, easy, delightful, and reliable.

HP Chromebook 14-CA137NR

What do you think? Reply below with your comment. Contact or Email me at the buttons above. Thanks for reading!

Android Attraction

Smart Switch

Last Summer, when I ditched my iPad and switched to Chromebook, I started thinking about doing the same with my phone – iPhone to Android. Naturally! It just makes sense to go all-in with the Google stuff. But I hesitated, finding it a bit concerning to fix something that isn’t broken. My iPhone 7, despite its age, is working great. I’m comfortable with the quality and reliability; also, there are a few key apps/features that I would miss.

A few months later, I found myself re-visiting the idea of switching phones. The iPhone has a lot going for it, but my mind has changed. I’ve decided to move over to Android! So what’s the big deal?


Android Attributes

As I mentioned, one of the big draws to an Android phone is that all the Google apps I use daily would be the default apps! Click a link: Chrome would open instead of Safari. Heck, I could have Firefox open if I wanted instead! Sharing via mail: Gmail would open instead of Apple Mail. And best of all: Google Assistant would default instead of Siri. You get the idea. Overall, Android’s flexibility (and openness) is more efficient than iPhone.

Also very attractive is Android’s customizability. Get bored with the way your phone looks? You can totally change it up…but not on iPhone. Want to see the nice photo you set as wallpaper? No probs! Just move your app icons anywhere you wanna! Heck, you can have zero apps on the screen too and just dive into the App Drawer where all your apps reside. Nice!

I know these features first-hand because I used Android for several years. I’ve already switched back and forth between iPhone and Android. So another reason I’m wanting to switch back now is because of the novelty of it. I’m ready for something new.

Now, onto one of the grandest Android features of all! Affordability. Even though $1,000 Android phones exist, you can also get a great Android phone on a budget. But are they worth it? Yes! I love how there are a number of phones competing in the market at the entry-level and also at the mid-range phone level. You can say that mid-range Android phones today are the affordable versions of the flagship-level phones of yesterday. Since smartphone tech has advanced so much now, you can get an Android phone without compromising or sacrificing all that much. And without emptying a bank vault.

Because there are truck-loads of Android phone makers producing multiple phone models for every budget, there’s another cool aspect of shopping for one instead of an iPhone: variety. Beyond the simple glass rectangle of a phone, in the Android space, you’ll find different sizes, colors, features, and benefits. While this abundance relates to a downside called “fragmentation”, which can be a mixed bag, I find it really nice to have so many phone options. In contrast, the only iPhone variety you have is: the new one or an old one. Or plain, plainer, and plainest. Or costly, more expensive, and exorbitantly priced. No thanks.

Finally, I recently found a bonus feature of Android phones. It’s called the Google Family Link app. So let’s call this feature, Family. This app from Google allows a parent to easily control multiple aspects of their kid’s phone. Yes, Apple has something similar, which I currently use. But the Google Family Link app appears to offer better or more granular control than Apple’s set-up. The fact that I can also keep tabs on my kid’s Chromebook activity in addition to their phone habits is salsa on the chips!


Hello…Moto

There are other areas to consider about Android versus iPhone. One of the biggest and trendiest these days is the two-punch combo of Privacy/Security. In some ways, I still think Apple and iPhone are best-in-class for this. But Google and Android are also great; I consider them trustworthy enough.

So now I’m saving up my pennies and dollars to make my next smartphone purchase a shiny new Android. I’ve set my sights on the reduced-price Moto G7 to replace my iPhone 7. The cool extra benefit to this will be the similarity and affordability of also replacing my kids’ iPhone 6 with the Moto G7 Play. If it all works out, I may blog about it in the not-too-distant future.

Speaking of the future, here’s another good example of Android variety. Microsoft has announced they plan to release a two-screen Android phone called the Duo. It looks so cool! Will it be practical? Time will tell.

(For the record, I once was the proud owner of the Moto Q feature phone. And in my former Android days, I used the Moto X followed by the Moto G4. No, I never owned the flip phone Moto Razr…but have you seen the new flip-smartphone version?)


What smartphone do you prefer? Have you lived with both iPhone and Android before? Write below, or write to me here! Thanks for reading!

November Is A Novella Month

Welcome to November

You know how sometimes you get busy and your routine is thrown off? Yeah, me too. That happened to me this past week. I missed a few blog days! Took a little vacay with the fam, my job got busier, plus there’s been some other stuff going on. Oh, I also started writing a book. No big deal, right? I’m on the way to 20k…or more! This month will be one for the books!


Book in the works

In October, I mentioned that I’d probably be blogging less in November because it’s NaNoWriMo2019! Well, here we are, over a week into the month and this is my first post. But I have been writing. In fact, I #amwriting.

Last year, I wrote that November is a novel month because so many people sort of compete to write 50,000 words in 30 days. If you do that, you’ll have yourself a nice novel. Since I’m on my first attempt ever, and because I have a lot going on otherwise, I set my own goal for 20,000 words. Technically, that means I’ll end up with a novella. Either way, this is a month for writing a book, for authoring a story!

So how’s that workin’ out for me? Actually, I’m pretty stoked so far! I finally sat down at my dedicated time to write (usually that means blog drafting) and started pecking out my first scene on my swank Chromebook’s chiclet keyboard.

My word count is nothing to boast about; what really counts is that I busted out a coherent half-way decent beginning to my novella! In just one scene, I enjoyed learning more about my protagonist, getting to know him as I fleshed out his thoughts and actions, as he interacted with other people around him.

Oh, by the way, my protag drank a whole cup’o’coffee in the first scene. Just sayin’.


Write on

There’s more positive stuff I could say about my first NaNoWriMo writing experience. But I’m typing this in our minivan on the way to our next mini-vacay this month! I’ve got an 18-year wedding anniversary to celebrate. Then I’ll be back in the world of my book that’s underway.

I’ll try to keep up with the blogging too. But know that December will probably also be a novella month. I’m not concerned with how long it takes to finish writing. I’ve started, I’m still going, and I’m enjoying it. I’ll cross the finish line eventually.


Do you have a story to tell? Do tell! Are you blogging it? Facebooking it?? Authoring a book??? Comment below, or write to me here! Thanks for reading and writing!!

Shout Out To Chrome Sites

Chromebook Metaverse

When I was all into using only my iPad for everything, I enjoyed a few websites dedicated to that. But now that I’ve switched to Chromebook, I like some new sites; they helped in my transition process. And they’re good to fuel the Chromebook fun.


See The Sites

Chrome Unboxed

First up is Chrome Unboxed. This one has been around for several years now. It’s run by a handful of guys who geek out on Chromebooks. They’re passionate about the product and encourage its adoption and proliferation. So if you’re thinking about switching to Chromebook, this website is sure to give you a boost.

In addition, the Chrome Unboxed team runs a podcast called The Chrome Cast. It’s like an audio version of the website. Sound quality is great. It’s informative, and you can hear the enthusiasm for Chromebooks in the speakers’ voices.

About Chromebooks

Next up is a site called About Chromebooks. It’s headed by one person: Kevin Tofel. I like this site for Kevin’s opinion articles about Chromebooks and tablets and technology in general. He has good insight into trends in the tech industry, having worked on the front lines for years. He was at Google working on Chrome, and he has written for different websites covering Chromebooks.

OMG! Chrome!

This last site, OMG! Chrome!, is a good one for general news and info about Chromebooks. It’s well organized and has been around for a long time. It posted several new articles over the Summer, but it looks like it went on hiatus for a long time beforehand. So I’m not sure how reliable it is for being up-to-date.


All The Chrome

I’m sure there are other good websites out there to get your Chromebook fix. But these three were the main players that helped me make the move to using a Chromebook. When I first switched in 2017, I came from Windows. And when I transitioned last month, I left iOS on iPad.

Both metamorphoses required learning what Chrome OS was all about and if I could depend on it completely for all my computery things. So I found the mentioned Chrome sites instrumental in the change, rewiring my brain for life with a Chromebook.

If you want to explore Chromebooks for yourself, go see the sites. Then come back here and tell me what you think.


Do you Chromebook? Thinking of switching? What do you use now? Comment below, or write to me here! Thanks for reading!

My iPhone Got Googled

Google’s Grasp

Would you believe me if I told you it is nigh impossible to get away from Google? The tech giant is so ingrained on the internet, you likely use at least one Google service. Several attempts at escaping Google’s vortex are posted online; just do a quick search for them – try not to use Google search! I distanced myself from Google several months ago, but now my Apple iPhone has become Google-fied.


Tech Turf

My iPhone is Apple’s home turf, and it was free of all Google apps. I had even deleted YouTube! Of course, Apple wants you to use their built-in apps, and doing so makes the iPhone experience smoother overall. In fact, after more than a decade, Apple still won’t let you change default apps.

When I switched from using an iPad to a Chromebook, which is Google’s turf, I embraced using Google’s web apps and services. At first, I wasn’t sure if I would use only the minimum necessary to blog. You can guess the one Google app I’d be “forced” to use on a Chromebook: Chrome!

On my once “pure” Apple iPhone, it didn’t take long for me to download almost all of Google’s apps; I had a whole page full of them! What can I say? I like to go all-in. Besides, Google’s web services are linked together to make them more functional, so it makes sense to fully embrace them.


Google iPhone

It seems like an oxymoron, but a Google iPhone is not a pretty ugly device; it’s surprisingly Google-y. You might say it’s the best of both worlds: Apple hardware with Google software. To me, it still seems weird having so many Google apps dominating my once “pure” Apple phone. It’s a major contrast, going from dependence on Apple’s solutions to Google’s. I’ll share three examples of apps I’ve switched.

Voice Assistance

For the third year in a row, it’s been proven that Google Assistant is more accurate in answering questions than Siri. And having used Google Now on Android in the past, I remember how handy it was at offering up info for whatever I was doing at the moment. Most of all, taking an all-Google approach, I want Google Assistant to be the default voice assistant, integrated throughout the phone at my beck and call.

Unfortunately, Apple restricts changing the default apps on iPhone. So I placed Google Assistant on my homescreen and also enabled the widget. Now I do a tap or swipe to access it and then start talking. It’s not as nice as Siri’s integration where you can just say, “Hey Siri” without touching the phone. But it’s nice enough; I can rely upon it for general questions and search queries. It’s also fun testing both Siri and Google Assistant in competition to see who, or which, gets the best answer.

Lifestyle Apps

This category is a tough nut to crack. Once you become accustomed to relying on certain lifestyle apps every day of your life, changing any one of them is daunting. I switched them all!

Instead of Apple Mail, Calendar, Contacts, and Reminders, I now use Google’s versions like Gmail and Tasks. Apple’s offerings work great. But Google’s are, in some ways, even better because of how they integrate with each other on the web. For example, Google Calendar and Tasks are separate apps on the iPhone. Yet online, you can access Tasks within Calendar, and if a task is set to have a date/time, then it will get a special entry on the Calendar too!

After hurdling over the flip-flop to Google’s daily lifestyle apps, it didn’t take long for me to feel comfortable relying on them. Google’s great at synchronizing your data across all its apps and services. From my web browser at work to my iPhone to my Chromebook, I’m happy to trust Google with my daily digital bits.

Music

I still prefer to buy songs one at a time, and Apple’s Music app plus iTunes has been my mainstay. But it lacks music discovery. I tried the Apple Music streaming service, and Spotify, but from my experience, Google’s solutions have been my favorite overall: YouTube and Google Play Music.

For the past two years, I relied on my iPhone’s Apple Music app to playback the songs I paid for. But I hit the big reset button in my mind; now I’ve switched to Google Play Music. I love the great “stations” it has to discover new music. And for now, I can still buy new songs outright from the Google Play Store. (Time will tell if YouTube Music replaces Google Play Music.)


Ecosystem Evolved

Switching from Apple’s apps to Google’s apps on my iPhone was technically straightforward. But mentally, it required quite a mind-shift, rewiring the well worn grooves in my brain.

It’s a lot like physically moving to a new house. You’re daily routine is mostly the same, but you must reorient everything for it. And it takes time to unpack and settle in before you’re “at home” with your new surroundings.

Speaking of moving, now that I’m on Chromebook and using Google’s apps on my iPhone, there’s one more move that I will likely make: switching to an Android phone! Will this happen? Let me ask Siri. Or Google Assistant.


What is your preference? Do you use only Apple apps or a mix of third-party apps? Or do you Google everything? Share your valuable feedback below, or write to me here! Thanks for your time!