HP has just announced three new Chrome OS-focused products: a removable pill, a new all-in-one, and a Works With Chromebook-certified monitor. All of them are designed to capitalize on the explosive progress Chrome OS gadgets have seen over the previous yr and a half, as many college students and households have had to undertake distant education. I’ve had a likelihood to check out a pre-production model of the new Chromebase AiO forward of the announcement, learn on for some first impressions.
The Chromebase AiO is the primary all-in-one Chrome OS desktop with the flexibility to rotate its screen from landscape to portrait. You’ll be able to swap modes with simply a gentle push on the nook — the content material on the screen will mechanically rotate to match the new orientation for you.
HP claims this makes the Chromebase extra versatile and simpler to use for scrolling via lengthy webpages or working with lengthy paperwork. However in observe, I didn’t discover the portrait mode very useful in my day-to-day work.
For starters, every time I rotated the screen from landscape to portrait or vice versa, my window association would get misplaced, forcing me to reset all the pieces. It may be fantastic if all you utilize is a single window, however the 21.5-inch screen is massive sufficient to invite you to open a number of home windows for side-by-side comparisons or simply higher multitasking. This clearly works greatest when the screen is in landscape mode, however everytime you swap to portrait and again once more, you’ll have to rearrange all your open home windows. The 16:9 side ratio is okay when the screen is in landscape, however turns into awkwardly tall and lengthy in portrait mode.
Moreover, the built-in webcam is on the lengthy fringe of the screen, making it most helpful in landscape mode. When the screen is rotated to portrait, the digicam is awkwardly off to the facet. (It’s successfully the alternative of the issue with the webcam placement on the iPad Professional.) A portrait orientation screen may be very helpful as a secondary show, nevertheless it doesn’t make as a lot sense to me for a main one.
Although the marquee characteristic didn’t win me over, the remainder of the Chromebase’s design is sort of good. The bottom is wrapped in engaging material, the twin audio system kick out a stunning quantity of sound and are clear when used for video calls. The overall design is fashionable, but understated sufficient to slot in most residence decors. This isn’t a shiny yellow iMac, which might be a good factor.
The screen itself is shiny sufficient for indoor use and is okay for typical productiveness or college work, even when its 1080p decision isn’t probably the most pixel dense. The contact response is appropriate and a good factor to have if a youthful scholar is utilizing the pc.
The mannequin I’ve been in a position to check out is the mid-tier model with a tenth Gen Core i3 processor and 4GB of RAM. As that is a pre-production mannequin, I haven’t accomplished any formal benchmarking, however on the whole utilization the processor is greater than up to the duty of working Chrome OS at this decision, even when I’ve a number of desktops, home windows, and tabs going on the identical time. (The one actual sluggishness I observed was after I tried to play 4K YouTube movies.) The RAM, alternatively, was an unsurprising bottleneck: I often had tabs or home windows reload within the background, inflicting me to miss issues like electronic mail notifications or lose my place in a paused YouTube video. Simply 4GB of RAM may be satisfactory on a small pill the place you’re doubtless solely working with one window at a time, however on a gadget with a massive screen that invitations you to multitask, it’s not sufficient. The highest-spec configuration comes with 16GB of RAM, however I’m unsure why HP isn’t providing one with 8GB, which is sufficient for most individuals and doesn’t have the restrictions of 4GB.
The entire ports on the Chromebase AiO are neatly organized in a vertical column on the again of the pc and needs to be a lot for most individuals. There are two USB-C ports rated at 10Gbps and two USB-A ports rated at 5Gbps and all of them can be utilized to cost cell gadgets. The one inconvenient a part of this design is the three.5mm headphone jack, which requires reaching across the again of the show to use.
The included wi-fi keyboard and mouse are easy, however principally fantastic. They run on AAA batteries and join by way of Bluetooth. The keyboard is plasticky, however nice sufficient to sort on, whereas the scroll wheel and buttons on the mouse are stiffer than I’d like. Sadly, there’s no biometric authentication on the Chromebase AiO, requiring me to sort in a PIN or password to log in every time.
HP says the pricing for the Chromebase AiO begins at $599.99, which might be for the mannequin with the lower-tier Pentium Gold chip and slower eMMC storage. The corporate didn’t have pricing data for the spec tier I used to be in a position to check, however the top-tier mannequin with 16GB of RAM and 256GB of storage will promote for $770. In the event you’re prepared to spend that a lot, the Chromebase AiO may be an attention-grabbing desktop to think about, supplied Chrome OS meets all your computing wants.
Pictures by Dan Seifert / The Verge