In our line of work, things can get a tad stale from time to time. After all, just like with smartphones, Chromebooks can only do so much to differentiate themselves. Sure, great build quality, better materials, and conscious choices can make devices like the new ASUS Chromebook Flip CX5400 and CX9 stand out from the crowd, but at the end of the day they don’t do anything fundamentally new or different with the standard Chromebook formula. They just do the stuff we expect a bit better than most.
Honestly, that’s find for me and I’m happy to pick apart one Chromebook from the next all day long. We really do love what we do around here. However, there are times when something quite different shows up in our office and it invites a spark of imaginiation and a little bit of wonder in the process. This is the case with HP’s new Chromebase and its fun, rotating display. That’s the trick that gets your attention, but the rest of the package is just as compelling and worth sticking around for, too. Let’s check it out.
There’s no reason not to start with the screen on this one. It rotates 90-degrees on a perfectly weighted swivel that simply invites your participation. Even when I didn’t need to rotate the display, I wanted to. It is so satisfying and well-made that it begs you to play around with it every time you approach the device. But that trick is only part of the story. The 21.5-inch IPS panel is bright (we tested it at 400+ nits) and colorful with solid viewing angles that can be adjusted on the Y-axis thanks to a pivoting hinge. Though HP’s marketing materials list a 250 nit anti-glare screen, that isn’t what we received and we’re hopeful that this solid display is part of the package that is now available from both HP and Best Buy.
Above the screen you get a 5MP webcam that looks better than most Chromebook cameras and there’s a unique switch up top that not only covers your camera, but can manually switch off you microphone as well. It’s a handy addition for a device that will likely be used for video calls on a very regular basis.
Around back, all the internals of this machine are in a fabric-covered cone, including the speakers. Speaking of speakers (see what I did, there?), the dual 5W speakers in the HP Chromebase 22 sound fantastic and slot somewhere between the Nest Audio and the Nest Mini. They are loud, full, and provide the best audio to date on a Chrome OS device without question.
Also housed in that cone are the ports (2x USB Type C, 2x USB Type A, headphone/mic), power button, volume rocker, and processor bits. This device will come with the 10th-gen Core i3 or Pentium Gold processor and will have configurations that vary from 4GB to 8GB to 16GB of RAM along with 64GB of eMMC, 128GB or 256GB of NVMe storage. All considered, this is a really nice overall package that will perform well enough for a vast majority of users that want an all-in-one for the home or office.
A surprising addition in the box was the tidy, white Bluetooth keyboard and mouse that pair up quickly and are nice to use. The keys are clicky and enjoyable and the mouse is simple to set up and comfortable to use. Both devices are certified ‘Works with Chromebook’ so HP could choose to sell them as standalone items down the road if they choose. If they do, I’ll snap up one of these keyboards in a heartbeat. I really like it so far.
For a starting price of $579 for the Pentium Gold model with 4GB of RAM and 64GB of internal storage, I think HP has put together a well-rounded offering in a very non-crowded space. Let’s face it: if you want a Chrome OS all-in-one, you don’t have many options. For a device that gives you a solid screen, a fun rotating twist, great speakers, a clean aesthetic, and really nice input methods, I think the price is very reasonable and I think there’s a chance that HP could sell a ton of these to all sorts of buyers this year. Our review is ongoing, but I’m liking what I see so far and expect many users will as well.