Google announced the HP Chromebook 11 earlier today – an ARM-powered low-cost laptop with a sleek new design and IPS screen.
But, putting appearances to one side, the specifications of the new notebook don’t differ too much from last year’s Samsung Chromebook (Series 3).
With that in mind, we take a look at what the two models have in common, where their differences lie, and which one comes out on top.
“Both Chromebooks are powered by the same Samsung Exynos 5250 CPU.”
A decent processor, ample RAM and capable graphics performance are vital to any computer.
Both of the ARM Chromebooks are powered by the Samsung Exynos 5250 – a dual-core ARM processor clocked at 1.7Ghz.
Likewise, both notebooks feature 2GB of RAM and 16GB of solid-state storage.
It’s possibly that the HP model uses a different model of SSD, something that could be giving the HP model its slight performance boost against the Samsung in initial benchmarks.
Graphics also remain standard between the pair, being provided by an integrated Mali-T604 chip.
HP say that their 11-inch can run for 6.5 hours, while Samsung proffers 6.3 hours.
Both models sport 11.6″ displays at a resolution of 1366 x 768. But when it comes to quality they differ by a country mile.
Samsung use a traditional matte LCD HD display in their low-end Chromebook. It’s perfectly suitable for general web work and surfing, and avoids the need to jostle around to prevent face or light reflections on screen.
But HP have opted to use an IPS screen in their offering. If you’ve used an Apple iMac in the last few years you’ll be familiar with IPS. Not only does it provide a very wide viewing angle without colour inversion, but it has fantastic colour reproduction, too.
The screen is, arguably, where the true differentiation lies.
Ports, Keyboard & Trackpad
When it comes to input, both models are evenly matched. There are full-sized Chrome OS chiclet keyboards on both, as well as gesture-ready clickable trackpads – though without a hands-on I can’t attest to how the trackpads compare against each other.
But there is a difference in the number and types of ports offered by each. HP’s new notebook covers the basics but skimps on an SD card slot, a decision probably aimed at getting people to make use of Google Drive for storage. The HP Chromebook also charges via a Micro USB port, meaning you’ll need one less cable on the go.
Its ports, all on the left hand side of the device, are as follows:
- 1x Micro USB (used for charging and video out through SlimPort)
- 2x USB 2.0
- Mic/Headphone Combo
For the peripheral-addicts Samsung’s ARM Chromebook offers a few extra options, such as high-speed USB 3 and full-size HDMI out:
- 1x USB 2.0
- 1x USB 3.0
- SD Card Slot
- HDMI Out
- Mic/Headphone Combo
The HP model is available in 5 color variants – black, and white with either red, blue, green or yellow accents, and a lightbar similar to that found on the Chromebook Pixel. Packaged app developers are able to take advantage of an API to communicate with the lightbar, too.
Samsung’s Chromebook is only available in one uniform matte silver look, and lacks a lightbar.
Build & Weight
No one wants to carry around excessive weight just to do a bit of coffee-shop surfing, so Chromebooks have always been built to be lighter and slimmer than traditional laptops.
The HP Chromebook 11 is the lightest and thinnest Chromebook yet – but only just.
HP Chromebook 11:
- Weight 2.3lbs/1.4Kg, size
- Size: 297 x 192 x 17.6 mm
Samsung Series 3:
- Weight: 2.43lbs
- Size: 289 x 208 x 17.5 mm
Build-wise the HP will feel more sturdy thanks to Google and HP bonding its plastic shell to a strong magnesium skeleton. While the Samsung is not exactly fragile, the lack of internal frame will result in it feeling slightly less robust in hand.
The kicker for most is price. A great laptop with awesome specs is all fine and dandy, but it has to be within reach.
Thankfully both the Samsung Chromebook and the new HP model are aimed at the ‘low-end’ of the computing market.
Samsung Chromebook retails at $249, though a year on from its release it can be had for around $215 by shopping around.
HP’s offering is slightly more expensive at $279, no doubt on account of the much better display.
As you can see: the differences between the two devices are more about lifestyle and looks than they are about raw specs and special features.
For an extra $30 on the price of the Samsung, the HP’s IPS display, along with the more robust and colourful design, does make the HP the preferred choice on paper.
But, with good deals to be found on the Samsung Chromebook, it’s far from being a poor substitute.
Links to buy both laptops on Amazon.com can be found below.