From a fun new color to the next generation of 11.6-inch Chromebooks, HP is starting things off with a splash.
CES may be where consumer electronics show off for the world, but if you want to make waves in the education world, you bring your best Chromebooks to BETT in London. While the event might be all-virtual this year, that’s not stopping Chromebook manufacturers from pulling out all the stops for districts that are still scrambling to replace older laptops amid another cycle of lockdowns and districts being forced back towards all-digital learning as cases explode throughout the West.
HP has five new Chromebooks it is unveiling this week at BETT, geared towards teachers and students alike with some small but very impactful updates both inside and out. Let’s kick things off with the only 14-inch Chromebook in the bunch, the teacher-focused HP Chromebook 14 G7. While not as powerful as the HP x360 14c that we saw last fall, the 14 G7 is designed to meet the budgets of cash-strapped school districts while still having enough ports, power, and portability for time-crunched, overworked and under-equipped teachers.
The keyboard here is fully skirted and anchored, so you don’t have to worry about keys breaking or getting picked out, and spill-resistant. The screen can be either a 768p or 1080p — touchscreen options appear to be available for both resolutions — and while this isn’t a 2-in-1, you can lay the G7 totally flat with its 180-degree hinge. The port selection here is nice a robust, featuring a dedicated HDMI port on top of the USB-C port so that teachers can easily hook up to a secondary screen or projector without being reliant on a USB-C hub.
Get ready to see a lot of the Celeron N4500 and N5100 in 2021 used here; they’re going to become as ubiquitous in Chromebooks as the Celeron N4000 two years ago. Battery life wasn’t listed — the capacity is 47Whr — but I’ll wager it’ll get 10 hours, able to get through a school day plus some after-school staff meetings. While not quite as strenuously ruggedized as the 11.6-inch models we’ll get to in a minute, the HP Chromebook 14 G7 is MIL-STD810H-tested and should withstand repeated four-foot drops on wooden or carpeted surfaces. The ports here also look reinforced, just as they’ve been on previous generations.
|Display||14-inch Narrow Border 1366×768 px or 1920×1080 px Optional touchscreen|
|Processor||Intel Celeron N4500 or N5100|
|Connectivity||Wi-Fi 6 with MIMO • Bluetooth 5.0|
|Ports||1x USB-C Gen 1 2x USB-A 3.1 HDMI • microSD card slot Audio combo jack|
|Features||Full skirted anchored & spill resistant keyboard 180-degree hinge|
|Durability||MIL-STD810H tested 122cm drop onto plywood|
|Battery||47WHr battery • 45W USB-C adapter|
|Dimensions||326.5 x 226.95 x18.35 mm|
Moving down in size, we have the HP Chromebook 11 G9 EE series and HP Chromebook x360 11 G4 EE. The HP Chromebook x360 11 G4 EE could very well be the next best Chromebook for Students, especially with an optional siloed USI pen that rests in a cradle at the top of the keyboard rather than slotting into the side the way most garaged pens do. Considering USI is a standard used by several manufacturers and Google itself, this means if you lose the included USI pen, you just have to buy a third-party one that fits in the tray rather than trying to hunt down a manufacturer replacement.
All four HP Chromebooks announced today have keyboards that are fully-skirted and anchored to prevent damage from unruly children, and, of course, they’re spill-resistant now that everyone’s joining class from the kitchen table at breakfast. They’ve been mil-spec tested and can withstand four-foot drops on wood and two-foot drops onto concrete. The x360 11 G4 EE, 11 G9 EE, and 11MK G9 EE are also conditioned to withstand regular wipedowns of the display and keyboard with Lysol or Clorox wipes, which is handy if your district is insisting on in-person classes and you’re disinfecting everything when your kids get home. The 11 G9 EE and 11MK G9 EE’s chassis is also able to withstand disinfectant wipes.
The HP Chromebook 11 G9 is available with either an Intel Celeron (the regular 11 G9) or a Mediatek (the 11MK G9), and while you may think the processor is the only difference, you’d be wrong. The 11MK only has one USB-C port and one USB-A port instead of two, and it also has an older Wi-Fi and Bluetooth chip, not that it’ll be noticeable 99% of the time. The MediaTek MT8183 is slightly older — we’ve seen Chromebooks with it for about a year already — but for light workloads, the chip is just fine. More importantly, the MediaTek is more battery-friendly, allowing the 11MK G9 to get up to 16 hours battery life, just like the Acer Chromebook Spin 311 3H with which it shares the same core specs.
|Display||11.6-inch IPS anti-glare, 220 nits 1366×768 px Optional Gorilla Glass 3 touchscreen||11.6-inch IPS or SVA anti-glare, 220 nits 1366×768 px, WLED-blacklit Optional touchscreen||11.6-inch IPS or SVA anti-glare, 220 nits 1366×768 px, WLED-blacklit Optional touchscreen||11.6-inch IPS touchscreen Corning Gorilla Glass 3 1366×768 px|
|Processor||Intel Celeron N4500 or N5100||Intel Celeron N4500 or N5100||MediaTek MT8183||MediaTek MT8183|
|Memory||4GB/8GB LPDDR4X-2933 SDRAM||4GB/8GB LPDDR4X-2933 SDRAM||4/8GB LPDDR4x||4/8GB LPDDR4x|
|Storage||32/64 eMMC||32/64 eMMC||32/64 eMMC||32/64 eMMC|
|Connectivity||Wi-Fi 6 with MIMO • Bluetooth 5.0||Wi-Fi 6 with MIMO • Bluetooth 5.0||Wi-Fi 5 with MIMO • Bluetooth 4.2||Wi-Fi 5 with MIMO • Bluetooth 4.2|
|Ports||2x USB-C Gen 1 2x USB-A 3.1 microSD card slot Audio combo jack||2x USB-C Gen 1 2x USB-A 3.1 microSD card slot Audio combo jack||1x USB-C Gen 1 1x USB-A 3.1 microSD card slot Audio combo jack||1x USB-C 2.0 1x USB-A 2.0 microSD card slot Audio combo jack|
|Features||Damage-resistant touchscreen Optional USI garaged pen Full skirted anchored & spill resistant keyboard 360-degree hinge||Full skirted anchored & spill resistant keyboard||Full skirted anchored & spill resistant keyboard||Full skirted anchored & spill resistant keyboard|
|Durability||MIL-STD810H tested||MIL-STD810H tested||MIL-STD810H tested||MIL-STD810H tested|
|Battery||47WHr battery • 45W USB-C adapter Up to 12 hours||47WHr battery • 45W USB-C adapter||47WHr battery • 45W USB-C adapter Up to 16 hours||47WHr battery • 45W USB-C adapter|
|Dimensions||295 x 205 x 20.3 mm||295 x 205.3 x 18.85 mm||295 x 205.3 x 18.85 mm||295 x 205.3 x 20.9 mm|
|Weight||1.51kg||1.34kg (non-touch model)||1.34kg (non-touch model)||1.42kg|
|Colors||Jet Black or Nautical Teal||Jet Black or Nautical Teal||Jet Black or Nautical Teal||Jet Black or Nautical Teal|
The HP Chromebook X360 11MK G3 EE is the least impressive of the bunch: the USB-C port is only USB 2.0, so I doubt it’ll support video-out and there are only one USB-A and USB-C port. It lacks the disinfectant wipe durability, too, but has the more important drop and keyboard durability. The 11MK G3 EE has the same MediaTek processor and connectivity as the HP Chromebook 11MK G9 EE, but I’d recommend getting the x360 11 G4 EE for the better processor, more robust ports, higher durability, and USI stylus support. It seems more like a value play for cash-strapped school districts, but cash-strapped parents could appreciate it, too, at the right price.
Speaking of, starting prices aren’t available just yet, but given that four of these five launch in the next five weeks, we’ll see prices very soon. I’m bummed that the most compelling model, the HP Chromebook x360 11 G4 EE, won’t be available until March, but that’ll still be plenty of time for school districts to place orders for next fall. Also, if you’ve made it to March, chances are you’ll last to summer break, anyway.
Need a durable Chromebook right now?
HP Chromebook x360 11 G3 EE
This Chromebook might not have the newest Celeron or the USI stylus compatibility, but you get 8GB of RAM, 64GB of storage, and a durable, compact shell for this 2-in-1 touchscreen Chromebook. If your kid keeps whining about their old laptop crashing during school, grab this while it’s still in stock!
$400 at HP