HP Chromebook Plus 14 Review (14a-nf0050nr)

In my latest video, I take a look at HP’s Chromebook Plus 14. It is basic computing transportation but it’s decent basic computing transportation.

The laptop is priced at $529 (compensated affiliate link) and comes equipped with features that distinguish it from standard Chromebooks, including AI writing tools and advanced webcam controls. I covered those features in my prior Chromebook Plus videos.

A notable addition to Chromebook Plus is a one-year subscription to Google’s Gemini Advanced AI service, which typically costs $20 per month. This subscription includes two terabytes of cloud storage that works across any devices connected to the user’s Google account. This Chromebook will receive updates through June 2033, and should receive many new Chromebook Plus software features as they are developed.

Under the hood, the HP Chromebook Plus 14 is powered by an Intel i3-N305 processor, part of the Alder Lake lineup, which is known for its balance of performance and power efficiency. Paired with 8GB of RAM and 128GB of UFS storage, this configuration provided good performance for typical Chromebook tasks such as web browsing, word processing, and media consumption. The 14-inch display, while not suited for professional creative work due to its limited color gamut, offers sharp and readable text with a resolution of 1080p.

The device also includes a 1080p webcam, featuring a manual shutter for privacy and OS-level controls for background blurring and lighting adjustments. While the speakers provide adequate sound for conference calls, they may not satisfy audiophiles seeking high-quality music playback. The build quality, predominantly plastic, does not feel cheap and maintains a balance between durability and weight. It weights 3.2 pounds or 1.45 kg.

Connectivity options are good, with two full-service USB-C ports supporting display output, data transfer and power input, alongside a headphone/microphone jack and a USB-A port.

During my tests, the Chromebook Plus 14 managed tasks efficiently without significant issues. However, I recommend using web browsers for streaming services like Netflix and Disney Plus to ensure optimal resolution, as the Android apps for these services may not support full display resolution on Chromebooks.

Benchmark tests reinforced the Chromebook’s capabilities, with the device scoring well in web-based performance assessments. It also handled Android games and game streaming services like GeForce Now effectively, though it may struggle with titles designed for ARM processors. I was unable to get Genshin Impact to install, for example.

For those interested in running Linux applications, the Chromebook Plus 14 supports a variety of Linux apps, including LibreOffice, which operates smoothly on the device.

All in the “Plus” in Chromebook Plus does not add a price premium, but it is a good indication of a better performing Chromebook. The performance on this HP is excellent and its free year of cloud storage makes it a decent value for those looking for a no frills laptop.

Disclosure: The HP Chromebook was provided on loan. No compensation was received for this review nor did anyone review or approve this before it was uploaded.

New Google Chromebook Plus Features

Google recently announced the addition of new features to their Chromebook Plus devices, a tier that was introduced a few months ago. In my latest video, I take these new features out for a spin and demo them.

Many existing Chromebooks meet the minimum specifications for this “Plus” category and have been upgraded with additional capabilities not available on lower-end models. If you are curious whether your device qualifies, a previous video from October provides detailed information. So far the “Plus” designation has not resulted in a price premium for midrange Chromebooks – pricing is still very competitive vs. comparable Windows laptops.

Among the new features is the Gemini Advanced subscription service, offered for free for one year to those purchasing a new Chromebook Plus. Typically priced at $20 per month, this subscription includes access to an advanced chatbot, which is competitive with ChatGPT for data analysis and large file summarization. Gemini Advanced features will also be available in Google Workspace apps. Additionally, the subscription provides two terabytes of Google Cloud Storage, benefiting users across all devices linked to their Google account.

One of the standout features is the “Help Me Write” tool that is now integrated into the OS. This AI-powered assistant can rewrite text fields on any website, offering improvements for SEO or adding playful elements like emojis.

The Magic Photo Editor has also been enhanced, borrowing features from Google’s Pixel phones. Users can now remove background elements or repositioning subjects within a photo and have the effected areas rendered with generative AI. While this feature sometimes struggles with complex environments, it generally performs well in simpler scenarios.

Another addition is the live caption feature, previously seen on Pixel devices. This tool transcribes audio in real-time from any source running through the Chromebook’s audio system, though it currently only supports English. It proves useful for capturing spoken content across different applications.

For gamers, the new Game Dashboard allows for keyboard mapping of touchscreen controls across all Chromebooks. This feature, however, does not support game controllers. Additionally, Chromebook Plus users can now record gameplay sessions or create GIFs from screen captures, making it easier to share content online.

The update also introduces dynamic AI-generated backgrounds and wallpapers. While the options are somewhat limited, they provide unique, visually appealing customization for the device.

The overall approach to these updates reflects Google’s strategy to integrate subtle, useful AI features into the operating system. More enhancements are expected for the Chromebook Plus tier, promising continual improvement for Chromebook Plus users.

The Asus CM30 Chromebook Tablet Packs a Ton of Value – Full Review

The Asus CM30 Chromebook offers a budget-friendly option for those looking for a versatile device without breaking the bank. Priced at $300 (compensated affiliate link), it includes a keyboard, tablet, and a pen, making it a cost-effective alternative to entry-level iPads which don’t come with these accessories. You can see it in action in my latest review.

The CM30 runs on Chrome OS, supporting not only the Chrome browser but also Linux applications and Android apps via the Google Play Store. The tablet mode feels quite Android-like thanks to the touch display. The device I reviewed features a Mediatek Kompanio 520 ARM processor, providing solid battery life. It has 4GB of RAM, with an 8GB version available at the affiliate link above, and comes with either 64GB or 128GB of eMMC storage.

The display is a 10.5-inch WUXGA screen with a resolution of 1920×1200, offering good brightness at 400 nits and a decent color balance. The display has large bezels which might appear dated but are a reasonable compromise given the device’s price.

The keyboard, while not full-sized and lacking backlighting, provides satisfactory travel and tactile feedback, though those with larger hands might find it challenging. The design clearly takes inspiration from the Microsoft Surface tablet design and suffers from some of the same issues the Surface does when using the device on a lap.

The magnetic attachment for the keyboard works well, though it could benefit from a more secure attachment to prevent slipping when folded up. It weights just under 2 pounds as a tablet and 2.5 pounds with the keyboard attached.

Port options are minimal, with only a headphone/microphone jack and a full-service USB Type-C port, which doubles as the charging port and supports data transfer and video output up to 1080p. The stereo speakers are adequate for casual use, though not impressive for music. Battery life is a strong point, offering 10 to 12 hours of use under moderate conditions.

In terms of performance, the CM30 handles web browsing and video playback reasonably well, although it struggles with 60fps video and more demanding tasks. It scored 51.2 on the Browserbench Speedometer test, aligning with expectations for its price range.

The included pen, which charges in its garage on the device, performs adequately for note-taking and simple drawings, though it lacks the premium feel of higher-end styluses. Chrome OS’s integration of the pen for handwriting recognition and other functions has improved quite a bit over the years and feels nicely integrated into the experience.

For gaming, the ARM processor proves compatible with most Android games, and game streaming services work well thanks to the device’s Wi-Fi 6 support. However, the graphics performance, reflected in a 3DMark Wildlife benchmark score of 727, indicates that it might not handle more graphically intensive games as smoothly as other devices. But most casual games will run fine.

Linux compatibility adds another layer of functionality, allowing for the installation of command-line and graphical applications. I tested Libreoffice and while it felt a little sluggish initially performance was adequate to get work done.

Overall, the Asus CM30 Chromebook stands out for its value, offering a range of features that make it suitable for various tasks without a hefty price tag. With its pen and keyboard, the CM30 still costs less than a bare entry-level iPad with the bonus of getting a more versatile general computing device.

Lenovo Chromebox Micro Review

We haven’t looked at a Chromebox in awhile so I was excited to see Lenovo has something new in this product category with their Chromebox Micro. This is a fanless mini PC powered by an older Intel N4500 processor along with 8GB of RAM and 32GB of eMMC storage. You can see the full review here.

In the review I mention its high price of $379 – but as it turns out that’s the price with a Google Management Console license included. Without that license the price is $249 (compensated affiliate link) – still a little steep for the hardware configuration but more reasonable. It does not come with a keyboard, mouse or display.

Surprisingly the Chromebox Micro can output to three displays simultaneously – one via its HDMI port, and two additional outputs using its USB-C ports. It also ingests power via USB-C. It worked fine with a USB-C docking station adding some additional connectivity opportunities. In addition to the HDMI and USB-C ports it has two USB-A ports, a headphone/microphone jack, and gigabit ethernet.

Performance-wise, the Chromebox Micro handles basic tasks efficiently. Browsing websites like NASA.gov and Google Apps showed quick loading and smooth performance. The device also manages 1080p media playback well although its HDMI port is limited to only 30 fps at 4k. Its Wifi performance was adequate thanks to the Wifi 6 radio on board. Gaming is limited to less demanding Android games or cloud-based services like Xbox Cloud Gaming or GeForce Now.

Like other ChromeOS devices this Chromebox supports both Android apps and Linux applications, the latter once enabled in settings.

Despite its compact and silent profile, the price point remains a hurdle especially when compared to better performing MiniPCs available on Amazon we’ve looked at recently. A $199 price-point would be more attractive here.

Disclosure: This Mini PC was provided on loan by Lenovo. They did not review or approve the content prior to uploading/posting and all opinions are my own.

Asus Chromebook Plus CX34 Review

My latest video is of the Asus Chromebook Plus CX34, the second Chromebook Plus we’ve looked at since the new Plus standard was announced by Google.

The Chromebook Plus CX34 is part of Google’s initiative to define a new hardware specification, ensuring that devices carrying the ‘Chromebook Plus’ label offer more than just basic functionality. This includes mid to upper-range performance and the promise of future OS updates incorporating generative AI features, which are not available on lower-end models.

Priced at around $399, with occasional discounts bringing it lower, the CX34 is an entry-level Plus configuration featuring an Intel i3-1215U processor, 8 GB of RAM, and 128 GB of storage. The display, its standout feature, is a 14-inch IPS panel with a matte finish. It offers a 1080p resolution at 250 nits of brightness, delivering a satisfactory viewing experience for its price range. However, it’s important to note that it covers only about 45% of the NTSC color gamut, making it less suitable for creative professionals.

The build quality of the CX34 is decent, with a plastic body that feels sturdy enough for everyday use. The pearl white color is enhanced by a speckled finish. Although it’s not a two-in-one device, the laptop’s display can fold flat, offering some flexibility in how it’s used.

The keyboard and trackpad are surprisingly comfortable for a device in this price range. The keyboard is backlit although the backlight can sometimes wash out the keycaps in brighter settings. The trackpad is responsive and supports smooth navigation.

In terms of connectivity, the CX34 is well-equipped. It features two USB-C ports (one on each side of the laptop), USB-A ports, an HDMI output, and a headphone/microphone jack. The USB-C ports support power delivery, display output, and data transfer, although at a lower speed of 5 Gbits per second, which is adequate for a Chromebook.

The webcam is compliant with the Chromebook Plus requirements, offering 1080p resolution and operating system-level image enhancement features, such as blurring and lighting adjustments. These enhancements are compatible with various applications, including Zoom and Google Meet. However, the device lacks facial recognition and fingerprint sensors for quick unlocking.

Audio quality is average, with downward-firing speakers that provide decent stereo separation but are not exceptional, especially for music. Battery life is reasonable, with about 8 hours of usage on basic tasks like web browsing and video watching.

Performance-wise, the CX34 handles web browsing and media playback smoothly, thanks to its Wi-Fi 6 capability. It scores well on browser-based benchmarks, indicating its competence in handling everyday tasks. However, it’s important to note that streaming services like Netflix or Disney Plus should be accessed via the web browser for optimal resolution, as the Android versions on Chrome OS are limited to DVD quality.

For gaming, the CX34 is not a powerhouse but can handle Android-based games like Roblox and Minecraft satisfactorily. It also supports game streaming services like Xbox Game Pass Ultimate, offering a way to enjoy high-end games without the need for powerful hardware.

In conclusion, the Asus Chromebook Plus CX34 represents a solid choice for those seeking a mid-range laptop. It balances performance, build quality, and price, making it a viable option for everyday computing needs, from web browsing to light gaming. While it may not satisfy the demands of power users or creative professionals, it stands as a competent and affordable option in the Chromebook market.

Lenovo Ideapad Flex 5i ChromeBook Plus Review

Earlier this week I talked about Google’s new Chromebook Plus specification that will be setting a standard for higher performing Chromebooks. In my latest video I review the new IdeaPad Flex 5i Chromebook Plus from Lenovo, one of the first Plus devices on the market. You can find one here at Best Buy for $499 (compensated affiliate link).

The Flex 5i is equipped with an i3-1315U processor from Intel, 8 GB of non upgradeable RAM, and 128 GB of eMMC storage. The display is a 14-inch IPS running at 1920×1200, which is a 16:10 aspect ratio. Although it supports 45% of the NTSC color space, it might not be the best choice for color-critical tasks like photo or video editing. It is though adequately bright coming in at 300 nits.

The build quality is commendable, with a mix of metal and plastic. It’s a 2-in-1 device, allowing it to be also used as a tablet. The touch display complements the keyboard and trackpad, providing a versatile user experience. However, it’s a bit on the heavier side, weighing 3.57 lbs or 1.62 kg.

Battery life is around the 10-hour mark, depending on usage.

The 1080p webcam is decent, and Chromebook Plus has introduced some new features, allowing users to add blurring and noise reduction directly through an OS level control (more on that in my Chromebook Plus explainer video). There’s also a handy shutter to cover the webcam when not in use.

The keyboard and trackpad are impressive. The keys are well-spaced, and the keyboard is backlit. The trackpad is responsive, and the speakers provide decent sound quality. In terms of ports, it offers two full-service USB-C 3.2 ports, a USB-A port, a headphone/microphone jack, and a micro SD card slot.

Performance-wise, web browsing is smooth. Video playback, especially on platforms like Netflix, is better in the browser than in the app due to some DRM restrictions. For those interested in gaming, while it’s not ideal for Steam games, game streaming and casual Android games work well.

The 5i also supports USI compatible pens, providing a responsive drawing and writing experience. Additionally, it’s compatible with Linux applications, allowing users to run both command-line and graphical applications.

Google recently extended the support life for ChromeOS, with most devices now receiving updates for a full decade from their platform release date. This particular Chromebook will receive updates through June of 2032.

The Lenovo Flex 5i offers good value for its price point. While it’s definitely not the best choice for creative work or heavy-duty gaming, it does well in most other general computing tasks.

What is a Chromebook Plus? Exploring Google’s New Chromebook Specification

When I first heard about the addition of the word “plus” to the ChromeOS brand, I initially feared it might be a new subscription plan. But it’s actually a new hardware specification for a more powerful configuration of Chromebooks.

In my latest video we dive into Google’s new Chromebook Plus specification and how it differentiates from a normal Chromebook. You can see the full line of Chromebook Plus devices over at Best Buy (compensated affiliate link).

To be considered a Chromebook Plus, the device must have a minimum of an i3 12th generation processor from Intel or a Ryzen 3 7000 series processor from AMD. Additional specifications include 8 GB of RAM, 128 GB of storage, a full HD 1080p IPS display, about 10 hours of battery life, and a 1080p webcam with noise reduction. If you already own a Chromebook that meets these specifications, it will soon upgrade to Chromebook Plus following an upcoming ChromeOS update.

Price points start at around $399 and on par with pricing for similarly equipped pre-plus Chromebooks.

On the surface, there isn’t much of a difference between a Chromebook Plus and regular Chromebooks. However, Google plans to introduce significant new features involving generative AI. For instance, AI will soon be able to insert text anywhere in the operating system where there’s a text input. Another feature will allow users to change their wallpaper with generative AI suggestions.

One feature I found useful was the ability to synchronize my Google Drive with the Chromebook’s local storage. This means you can carry all of your Google Drive files with you even when offline – provided your Chromebook has sufficient local storage available. Unfortunately there is not currently an option for “selective sync” where the user can specify which files or folders to synchronize vs. others.

The most notable feature is the new OS level webcam and audio controls. Users can adjust background blur, lighting and AI noise reduction from the task bar which ChromeOS then feeds to any app that uses the webcam and microphone. There’s no longer a need to set up these features in each app individually. This is something that exists on other platforms but usually requires third party driver software.

Google Photos on the Chromebook Plus now includes features typically found on Pixel phones, like the Magic Eraser tool. This tool allows you to remove unwanted elements from photos. Another feature lets you create portrait mode photos from regular pictures. Other features are more subtle. One example are the exclusive wallpapers for Chromebook Plus that will change throughout the day.

In addition to helping simplify things for consumers, Google hopes the new tier will also encourage developers to bring higher end applications to the platform. In the past Chromebooks have been a mishmash of processors and configurations – but now with a base performance requirement developers can target a single x64 minimum configuration specification.

Luma Fusion, a video editing app, is one such example. While it’s nowhere near as robust as DaVinci Resolve is on other platforms it did perform well on the Chromebook Plus review unit I received for testing.

So while the differences between a Chromebook Plus and a regular Chromebook might seem subtle now, I anticipate more differentiation in the future. One of the key immediate benefits are consumers being able to differentiate the lower tier of the ChromeOS line from higher performing devices. I will of course come back with more Chromebook Plus feature overviews as they roll out.

Disclosure: Lenovo sent us the Chromebook Plus featured in the video on loan for an upcoming review. This was not a sponsored video nor did anyone review or approve it before uploading.

Lenovo Chromebook 3 11″ Review – Currently on Liquidation !

It’s amazing how much laptop you can get for very little money these days – especially when that laptop is being sold at a liquidated price like the Lenovo Chromebook 3 11 that is the subject of my latest review.

This is a low-cost option that offers a functional secondary computer for basic tasks. With an AMD A6-9220C dual-core processor, 4 GB of RAM, and 32 GB of eMMC storage, the IdeaPad Chromebook 3 has an 11.6-inch TN display with a maximum brightness of 250 nits. While the display is not touch-enabled and the colors are muted, the build quality is solid, with a weight of 2.46 pounds and an estimated 10-hour battery life. The keyboard is not backlit but offers a comfortable typing experience and the trackpad performs well.

The Chromebook has two full service USB Type-C ports (although only one display can be output at a time) along with a pair of USB 3 ports, an SD card reader, and a microphone/headphone jack.

But the device’s performance is sluggish, especially when compared to similar Chromebooks with Intel processors. But for basic tasks it’s fine and the battery life is pretty good for that type of work.

The speakers provide better sound quality than expected, and the device is compatible with Android apps and Linux. The end of support date for this Chromebook is June 2027, but it may be possible to extend its lifespan using Chrome OS Flex. Overall, the IdeaPad Chromebook 3 is a good value for those who manage their expectations and require a basic, functional laptop.

As value packed as this machine is there is a better option out there – if you can find it. The Acer Chromebook 311 I reviewed a few months back had a similar price but came with a higher quality display, faster performance, and the ability to output dual displays. Crazy!

HP Dragonfly Pro Chromebook Review

My latest review looks at the HP Dragonfly Pro Chromebook.

The Dragonfly Pro Chromebook strikes me as a spiritual successor to Google’s Pixelbook – a flagship-style device that offers features not typically found on lower cost ChromeOS devices.

The device has a 14-inch touch-enabled LCD display with a 16:10 aspect ratio and a resolution of 2560×1600. The display is incredibly bright, reaching up to 1200 nits, making it suitable for outdoor use.

The device is powered by an Intel i5 1235U processor, 16GB of RAM, and 256GB of storage. It also supports the Wifi 6E standard. Unfortunately there are no user-upgradable parts, so users will have to make do with the included storage. It also features four Thunderbolt ports, which are compatible with USB Type-C and regular USB devices using a dongle. However, there is no headphone jack or card reader.

In terms of performance, the Dragonfly Pro performs well for everyday tasks such as web browsing, email, and video playback. The Dragon Fly Pro Chromebook achieves a score of 271 on the browserbench.org Speedometer benchmark test, which is in line with other devices in the same price range.

Battery life on the Dragonfly Pro lasts around eight to ten hours, depending on usage and screen brightness. It features upward-firing speakers, providing impressive sound quality with plenty of bass and volume. The included webcam is capable of 1080p video, making it suitable for video conferencing and online meetings.

Like other Chromebooks it’ll run Linux and Android apps. The Android experience is a little easier here thanks to the touch screen. Additionally this is one of the Chromebooks that is compatible with the Steam on ChromeOS beta so it’s possible to play some of your PC games on it too.

It does feel a bit on the heavy side weighing in at 3.33 pounds or around 1.5 kg. The build quality is exceptional with a mixture of magnesium and aluminum making up its casing.

HP offers a 24/7 support line specifically for the Dragonfly Pro, as well as an extended warranty program similar to AppleCare. For $11 per month, users receive coverage for accidental damage, with one incident per year, for up to 36 months.

All in the Dragonfly Pro Chromebook is an excellent high-end laptop for those who need more power and features from their ChromeOS device.

But the lack of expandable storage may be a concern for some, especially as Chrome OS continues to evolve and support more applications. The $999 price point may be steep, but for those in need of a powerful Chromebook, the Dragonfly Pro could be the right choice.

Framework Chromebook Review

Framework is known for their fully modular laptop designs, differentiating themselves as the makers of user repairable and upgradeable computers. We looked at their Windows laptop last year and this week we took their Chromebook out for a spin.

The guts of this are functionally identical to the version that runs Windows and Linux. But like other Chromebooks Framework has locked this one down from running other operating systems in order to earn the Chromebook badge.

Framework does say their Chromebook is compatible with the open source Coreboot firmware but they don’t directly support it. So for those who want to choose their operating system the regular Framework laptop is the better choice. Those looking for ChromeOS on the other Framework can run ChromeOS Flex.

But as Chromebooks go the Framework is by far the most upgradeable and repairable by the user. Loosening a few screws on the bottom of the case is all that’s needed to pop the hood and get inside. Every part is labeled with a barcode that will drop users off at the Framework Marketplace where they can purchase replacements and upgrades.

In my review I was able to bring its base 8GB of RAM up to a whopping 64 GB – the most memory I’ve ever experienced in a Chromebook. Framework’s Chromebook is also one of the handful of machines that works with the natively installed Steam client that’s currently in beta.

Thanks to its i5-1240P processor we were able to download and run the Windows PC versions of Red Dead Redemption 2 and No Man’s Sky at playable frame rates. Steam on ChromeOS uses the same Proton compatibility layer the Steam Deck uses for running Windows games on Linux. It’s a great containerized experience that keeps all of the gaming completely isolated from other parts of the system.

At $1,000 this is a pricey Chromebook. But that said there’s a growing market for higher end Chromebooks and people are buying them. I suspect the experiment here is for Framework to see if this is something they can get in the door of institutions largely running ChromeOS (like schools).

Many educators I know scavenge parts from dead Chromebooks to repair damaged ones. I suspect there would be a lot of interest in a lower priced Chromebook with modular components that could keep fleets intact. In the meantime I can see this Chromebook being issued to teachers and administrators in place of pricier Macs and Windows PCs.