HP Chromebook 15$449.99VIEW PRODUCTThe GoodMajor performance improvements • Much better build quality and appearance • Good keyboard • all the ports you needThe BadIt’s pricey • ChromeOS comes with all the same compromises as alwaysThe Bottom LineHP’s newest Chromebook offers a ton to like, but the price keeps it from being an instant recommendation.⚡ Mashable Score3.75😎 Cool Factor3.0Ease of Use5.0💪Performance4.0💵Bang for the Buck2.5

If you want to know whether or not to get HP’s new Chromebook 15 laptop, you need to figure out what your priorities are.

On one hand, the ChromeOS-based machine is a major improvement over the Chromebook 14 we looked at earlier this year. Comparatively speaking, it runs like a dream and the new form factor is sleek and attractive. It’s just a much more enjoyable device to use in every way.

On the other hand, all of those improvements come with a cost. Starting at $450, it’s almost $200 more expensive than the starting price for the inferior (but still totally usable) Chromebook 14. While the enhancements are certainly worth the price increase, Chromebook ownership means making certain concessions that might not sit as well when you’re dropping nearly $500 for them.

If you’re fine with living entirely in Google’s digital ecosystem and can accept all the compromises that come with it, this is one heck of a Chromebook. But if internal storage capacity and compatibility are big deals to you, you can probably find a better alternative for the price.

Turbo boosted

By now, if you’re looking into getting a Chromebook, you probably know the drill. Like all the rest, this is a laptop where everything goes through Google. You log in with your Google account at startup, you use Chrome for everything, and most importantly, you’re expected to compensate for low internal storage by making heavy use of the cloud.

There aren’t any fundamental differences between the Chromebooks 14 and 15 in this regard. It works the same way and, in my experience, does exactly what it’s supposed to. 

The big divide between the two from a usability perspective is performance. The Intel Core processor powering it is more than up to the task for things like web browsing, working, and streaming. I found the Chromebook 14 to be lacking in this department, but the 15 runs like a dream in comparison. 

Whether it was browsing with several tabs open or watching high-res and high-framerate videos, I didn’t notice any significant hitches like I did with the 14. This is still just a $450 laptop, so it’s not a powerhouse or anything. That said, I was really pleased with how smooth it was after my experience with the 14 earlier this year.

With that in mind, I think this should be an appealing option for students who can’t afford or don’t want something like a MacBook. It might be limited in what it can do (more on this later), but it’s pleasantly hassle-free when it comes to doing everyday work or entertainment tasks.

Glow-up season

Performance upgrades aside, the most striking new feature in this Chromebook is its physical design. Gone is the sturdy-but-unremarkable plastic from last time. Instead, it’s slick, metallic, and frankly pretty handsome. 

New on the left, old on the right. The Chromebook 15 is definitely better looking.
New on the left, old on the right. The Chromebook 15 is definitely better looking.

The 15-inch touchscreen is still a little too reflective for my tastes, but it’s bright and the 1920×1080 resolution is adequately sharp. The keyboard features a full number pad and, just like last time, feels a lot better on your fingertips than the travesty that is the MacBook Pro keyboard. It’s also got a perfectly functional webcam and Bang & Olufsen speakers that can really scream if you let them.

It’s a little big and heavy for something that’s probably best suited to the highly portable life of a student, but not enough to be a dealbreaker. Maybe it’s a net positive, because it still has an excellent lineup of ports, just like the Chromebook 14. Two USB-C ports join a regular Type A port, a Micro SD Slot, and a headphone jack.

Aside from ethernet and HDMI, it’s just about all you could ask for. In an era when we’re all just trying our best to get by, it’s inspiring to see the new Chromebook go through a genuine glow-up.

ChromeOS is still ChromeOS

Just like last time, this is a pretty good keyboard.
Just like last time, this is a pretty good keyboard.

My major hang-up with the Chromebook 15 is part practical and part philosophical. On the practical end, $450 is a bit much for just 4GB of RAM and 64GB of internal storage. Yes, you can offload most of your storage to the cloud as Google intends, but you can get much more than that from a Windows laptop for a similar price.

You can pay more to get more RAM and storage, but that doesn’t actually solve the problem. It arguably just worsens the computer’s inherent value.

Philosophically, I’m still not the biggest fan of how limited ChromeOS feels. Compatibility with Android apps is nice, but it’s still nothing close to what a similarly priced Windows laptop would offer. If you’re the kind of person who’s inclined to occasionally play video games on your laptop, you should probably look elsewhere.

Even so, I get that there are people who aren’t concerned with those things and are completely happy to work within Google’s limits. For those people, the Chromebook 15 is worth a look.

But if you’re thinking about getting a new Chromebook, you should at least do some research into other options. You might not think you need tons of RAM, internal storage, or app compatibility, but those things never hurt to have. 

However, if we’re judging the Chromebook 15 by what it has instead of what it doesn’t have, there’s plenty to like. It’s good-looking and eminently usable. If nothing else, it’s a heck of an improvement over the Chromebook 14.

Ports!
Ports!

https://bit.ly/2p6Ok4F

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