I have been on a bit of a Chromebook kick lately. I don’t make any apologies for it either. I have been using as my primary device the HP Chromebook 13 G1. Not the best name but it is what they call it. This is one of the best Chromebooks, I think, you can get right now. You don’t even need to spend the $999 on the new Pixelbook unless you want to, and that’s cool.
For the rest of us who like our Chromebooks in the sub-$1000 range, there are a few options for high-end machines that don’t break the bank. For the price of a middle of the road Windows laptop and well below the usual asking price for a new MacBook there is the HP Chromebook 13 G1. This is a quality built, aluminum chassis, 4k display, super thin, super light, task doing machine.
Let’s get the tech stats out of the way first, the G1 comes in either a 4gb RAM or 8gb RAM model. There is also the choice of two processors, either the m3 or the m5. My machine, that I use every day, is the m5 with 4gb RAM. Both come with 32gb of onboard storage and the backing of Google Drive. The other part that I think is great about the G1 is the MicroSD slot. So if you need to quickly and easily expand the storage, you can put in up to a 128gb MicroSD. I use the slot for importing the pictures from my Canon T3i. The laptop is powered by a USB-C cable and includes two USB-C ports on the left side. Also on that side is a USB 3.0 Type A (normal USB) and the headphone jack. The MicroSD slot is by itself on the right side.
The laptop is powered by a USB-C cable and includes two USB-C ports on the left side. Also on that side is a USB 3.0 Type A (normal USB) and the headphone jack. The MicroSD slot is by itself on the right side. On the deck is a top firing set of Bang and Olufsen speakers. They aren’t the loudest speakers ever fitted to a laptop, but they sound good at full volume, again, laptop speakers in a device this thin are not going to be all the spectacular.
The screen is great! I would put it up against my MacBook’s Retina any day. True, the MacBook gets a little bit brighter but for where and when I am using this Chromebook, it suits me just fine. There is also a webcam above the screen, should you need it. The camera does fine for video chat on your favorite messaging service.
The hinge is quality and the screen does not flop around while you are typing or moving the laptop around. This Chromebook doesn’t have a layflat screen nor is it a two-in-one or touchscreen. If that is something you are looking for, I recommend the Samsung Plus or Pro. The keyboard doesn’t flex under use and the keys are well spaced and have a nice muted “thunk” when you press them. I find the travel to be just about perfect without feeling like I am bottoming out the keys. I feel like the travel is more pronounced than the MacBook I use for work.
I bought this Chromebook to take with me to a temporary duty assignment to Washington D.C. I had been using my work MacBook as my primary computer for awhile, but since I would not be able to connect to my work network while I was away I needed something else. I shopped for a used Mac and was not really happy with what I was finding. I have had a string of Chromebooks so when I found the HP I was pretty excited. Here was a Chromebook with a screen to rival the Mac, it’s in the 13-inch form factor which I think is about perfect, and a nice aluminum build. It really checked all the boxes for me. Also the fact that it is thinner than the MacBook Air was a nice plus.
I have talked at length on here about how the ChromeOS and Chromebooks fill in well for everything I need a computer for. I send email, I update this blog, I edit my pictures in Lightroom. Yes, Lightroom. And since my Chromebook has access to the Google Play Store, I am able to use the App version of Lightroom, which I find to be better than the online version.
The Chromebook never misses a beat, just keeps humming along with whatever I ask of it. The only two issues I have with the Chromebook are this: It gets hot! Streaming video or even a long video chat makes the bottom get hot, not uncomfortable or painful, but noticeable if you have it on your lap. The other thing I wish was a little better is the battery life. Normal use I get about 8 hours out of a charge, thankfully, it recharges quickly. I was used to the marathon battery life of the Acer Chromebook 14 that I had previously. Neither of things are a dealbreaker for me.
The HP Chromebook 13 G1 is by far the best Chromebook I have been able to use so far. Should I find a way to get a Pixelbook, I probably would. But until then I am happy with the HP. It looks good, it performs well and I can do everything I need to do. Pick one up today, you won’t be disappointed.