HP announced upgraded Chromebook 11 and Chromebook 14 models on Thursday at the IFA show in Berlin. The Chromebook 11 will have a starting price of $280 (or $279.99, if you care about that penny). It switches from Exynos to Celeron for its CPU and boasts a slimmer, more colorful profile. The Chromebook 14 will start at $300 (or $299.99). It features the new and intriguing Nvidia Tegra K1 processor, and a higher-priced ($350) version will offer free broadband for the life of the product.
None of the new models will have touchscreens initially—at least, not in the U.S. Finger-friendly versions of the Chromebook 14 will debut in other parts of the world first, but take heart: HP says this feature will hit our shores later in the fall. I'm eagerly anticipating that rollover, but in the meantime, the broadband offering is another attraction.
Nvidia's Tegra K1 powers Chromebook 14
The Chromebook 14 is only the second Chrome-based laptop to be announced with the Tegra K1 processor. Acer's Chromebook 13, announced a few weeks ago, is the other. Nvidia's set high expectations for its new competitor to the Samsung and Intel processors we've otherwise seen in Chromebooks up to now. The company promises good graphics performance (natch) and agile multitasking.
Battery life is the other big promise, as yet to be tested. Acer promises up to 13 hours of life from its Chromebook 13 with a 1366x768 display, and up to 11.5 hours from its versions with a 1920x1080 display. HP says its Chromebook 14, with a 14-inch display delivering native resolution of 1366x768 pixels, will have up to 9.25 hours of battery life.
The other big news about the Chromebook 14 is the T-Mobile 4G broadband data plan offered on the pricier $350 version. The plan provides up to 250MB of data per month for the life of the product. (HP DataPass will offer a similar service in Europe.) HP promises the service will be ready to use right out of the box, with no contract or other hassles. That's truly a sweet perk for any Chromebook. While the Chromebook's offline capabilities continue to improve, these devices remain happiest with an Internet connection.
For the style-conscious, more colors will be available for this third-gen Chromebook 14 (the second-gen Chromebook 14 has three colors). Its Snow White chassis will offer four possible accent colors around the display bezel and the bottom: Neon Green, Ocean Turquoise, Smoke Silver, and Sorbet Orange.
Whatever the hue, the 3.78-pound Chromebook 14 will be less than three-quarters of an inch thick (17.8 mm, to be precise) and offer one USB 3.0 port, two USB 2.0 ports, plus HDMI. A micro SD slot and a combo audio jack will also be included.
In the U.S., look for the Chromebook 14 starting on October 22.
Chromebook 11 will use Celeron CPU
The new Chromebook 11 sheds the shiny-white or basic-black cases of its original form in favor of a silvery chassis with color accents around the display bezel and hinge, and also along the sides and bottom. The two main colors will be Turquoise and Snow White. (Another color was pulled before the announcement.)
An additional Chromebook 11 color called Twinkle Black Sparkle will be available for commercial accounts. I asked: HP said the color did have "some sparkle" to it. (But I think commercial accounts might have preferred a less fairytale-like name: What about Black Gold, or Constellation Night Sky, or Intergalactic Spacedust?)
Beyond aesthetics, HP is switching the Chromebook 11 from Samsung Exynos to Intel Celeron processors. HP estimated the battery life at up to 9.5 hours.
The 2.95-pound device will be slightly over three-quarters of an inch thick (20.45 mm) and have an 11.6-inch diagonal HD screen. No broadband comes with this model, but you get 100GB of Google Drive space for two years. The ports selection is typical: one USB 2.0 and one USB 3.0, HDMI, an SD card slot, and a combo audio jack.
The new Chromebook 11 will reach U.S. stores on October 5, more than two weeks ahead of the Chromebook 14.
After a slow start, it's hard to find a major computer manufacturer that doesn't have a Chromebook or two in its product line. HP's still active in Windows PCs, of course—the company announced three 2-in-1 hybrids at IFA—but its new Chromebooks are keeping up with the crowd, and the Chromebook 14 has some particularly interesting tricks up its sleeve.