The unit measures 13.54 by 9.44 by 0.7 inches tall, so it's a bit smaller than the Acer Chromebook 13. At 3.78 pounds, it's a bit hefty. Blame the larger screen.
The 14-inch, 1,366-by-768 screen is a sizable chunk of real estate, but unfortunately marred by the old-fashioned resolution and TN technology. Color reproduction seems muddy at best, and like so many other Chromebooks, it offers a very limited viewing angle. HP has a 1,920-by-1,080 touchscreen version due to arrive soon (model K4K23UA), for $100 more.
There are reports that future version of the HP Chromebook 14 G3 will support mobile broadband, but I haven't seen an official announcement about when, where, what kind of broadband, or how much it will cost.
The battery gave up after 6.5 hours in my YouTube torture test — reasonable for a 14-inch display. On the port side, my machine came with two USB 2 and one USB 3 ports. There's a MicroSD slot and a full-size HDMI port. Wi-Fi support comes in the full 802.11a/b/g/n/ac spectrum, 2x2 MIMO.
I didn't like the keyboard. The keys have a typical Chiclet feel — mushy, short throw — and the tray underneath the keyboard flexes too much for my taste. With my typically ham-fisted, fast touch-typing, the keys bounced up and down like a Willy's in four-wheel drive. Your mileage may vary, of course, particularly if you're a two-finger typist. The touchpad works well.
My test machine, with 1,366-by-768 display, 2GB of RAM, and a 16GB flash drive, retails for $299, but it's widely available for about $270. Move up to 4GB of RAM and expect to pay $30 extra. The 4GB RAM version with 32GB flash lists at $349. The model with the better screen — 1,920 by 1,080, touch — is listed at $429, but as best I can tell none have shipped to date. HP says the end of December.
Samsung Chromebook 2 (Intel XE500C12)
Samsung's first-generation Chromebooks blazed new trails and proved surprisingly successful, but they shipped with an unusual chip, the ARM-based Exynos 5420 (Exynos 5480 for the 13-inch model), manufactured by Samsung itself.
With the latest generation, which started rolling out in October, that's changed. The Samsung Chromebook 2 reviewed here runs on a Celeron N2840. While Acer and HP have jumped from Celerons to ARM chips in their latest generations, Samsung has jumped in precisely the opposite direction.
Samsung chromebook 2 (Intel XE500C12)Samsung Samsung Chromebook 2
Be careful when ordering. Confusingly, Samsung has released Exynos devices with the "Samsung Chromebook 2" name. If you're looking for the newer, Celeron-based Samsung Chromebook 2 models, make sure of the specs.
I tested the 11.6-inch Celeron-based Samsung Chromebook 2 specifically because its 13-inch counterpart isn't out yet. Specs on the widely anticipated 13-inch model haven't been released, but presumably it too will run on a Celeron chip, sans fan, and pack the same, well-received 1,920-by-1,080 screen as its older cousins.
Sign up for Computerworld eNewsletters.