Reviews

HP's high-end machine with a sleek design

Viewing angles on the HP Chromebook 13 G1 are excellent with its in-plane switching screen, which is bright with lively colours.
Viewing angles on the HP Chromebook 13 G1 are excellent with its in-plane switching screen, which is bright with lively colours.PHOTO: HP

But its features come at a higher price

HP takes a different tack with its Chromebook 13 G1. It is not your usual inexpensive Chromebook with low-end components, but a high-end machine with a sleek design reminiscent of HP's Envy series of Windows ultrabooks.

The G1 is thin and light, at just 1.3kg. Its brushed silver aluminium lid feels sturdy while the metal palmrest feels smooth and cool.

With a screen resolution of 3,200 x 1,800 pixels, the G1 has, as far as I know, the sharpest display on a Chromebook. By default, it runs at 1,600 x 900 pixels, but its high pixel density produces crisp visuals like the MacBook's Retina display.

My first instinct was to touch its glossy screen but, unfortunately, it is not a touchscreen. It is thus at a slight disadvantage compared with newer touch-capable Chromebooks that are designed to run Android apps from Google Play Store.

The store itself is supported by the G1, though the feature is in beta testing and available only if you switch to the developer build of ChromeOS in the settings. This version may be buggy and is not for most users.

  • TECH SPECS

  • PRICE: $1,819

    PROCESSOR: Intel Core m7-6Y75 (1.2GHz)

    GRAPHICS: Intel HD Graphics 515

    RAM: 8GB

    SCREEN SIZE: 13.3 inches, 3,200 x 1,800 pixels

    CONNECTIVITY: 2 x USB Type-C, 1 x USB 3.0, microSD card, audio jack

    BATTERY: 45 watt-hour


    RATING

    FEATURES: 4/5

    DESIGN: 5/5

    PERFORMANCE: 4/5

    VALUE FOR MONEY: 3/5

    BATTERY LIFE: 3/5

    OVERALL: 4/5

Viewing angles are excellent on the in-plane switching screen. It is bright with lively colours. The bezel is slim, though not quite as narrow as those of the latest ultrabooks.

The keyboard is backlit, which is rare for a Chromebook. Key travel is decent for a slim laptop.

The G1 can be charged via either one of its two USB Type-C ports. Thankfully, it has a full-size USB 3.0 port for those who are still using older USB devices.

The Intel Core m7-6Y75 processor in the G1 is commonly used in Windows tablets and convertibles. It is fanless and, hence, runs silently. More importantly, the G1 produced the highest score of 27,303 in the Octane browser benchmark among the Chromebooks tested. As a result, the G1 feels snappy even with dozens of browser tabs open.

But, perhaps because of its bright, high-resolution display, the G1 performed the worst in our video-loop battery test - it lasted 4hr 41min.

My review set was a US one provided by Google, but HP sells a similar model here for $1,819. For those with a more modest budget, HP also has a Pentium-powered G1 with 4GB of RAM and a 1,920 x 1,080-pixel display for $1,049.

• Verdict: Its premium build makes the G1 suitable for business users, especially well-heeled executives looking for a slim, light and classy Chromebook.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 12, 2017, with the headline 'HP's high-end machine with a sleek design'. Print Edition | Subscribe