The HP Chromebook 11a is in the office with its bold colors, compact design, and super-affordable price tag. This Chromebook does what most affordable Chromebooks do: get you to the basics on the lowest possible budget. If you’re looking for a small, portable, fun little device to do basic web-based tasks like social media, banking and general web browsing, the HP Chromebook 11a has a lot to offer at a very low starting price.
So, right off the bat you likely noticed the slightly-stunning blue color going on with this Chromebook. It is blue all over and I’m actually really digging it. It’s plastic – of course – but there’s a nice feel to the chassis and the blue color choice HP went with makes it feel decidedly less cheap. It’s psychosomatic, sure, but fun colors in Chromebooks are part of the experience and I think other Chromebook manufacturers would do well to mimic this move going forward. I remember a very affordable ASUS Chromebook that came in red and I felt the same about it. Adding a splash of color really does affect the way you perceive a Chromebook.
Otherwise, this is a pretty standard clamshell with a single USB A and USB C port on the sides, a chunky screen bezel and downward-firing speakers. One big surprise was rigidity, however, and you can see in the video just how solid this Chromebook feels. I generally expect pretty flexible Chromebooks in this price range, so HP’s build quality really stands out in that respect. There are no durability claims on this Chromebook, but it feels like it could take a beating. Oh, and you can expect regular Chrome OS updates until June of 2028 with this one, too.
On the inside, we’re met with the worst sort of displays (TN) and it has poor viewing angles just as you’d expect. Overall, it’s washed out a bit even when you get it situated and the brightness (220 nits) is acceptable, but not great. The main redeeming quality here is the size. At 11.6-inches, these TN panels actually do have a viewing sweet spot on the Y axis whereas you can’t find that perfect top-to-bottom viewing angle once the screen gets up to 14-inches or so. Need to see things better? There is a version of this Chromebook that comes with an IPS touchscreen, but it pushes the cost up a over $200 – $229 at HP’s website to be specific – and we could only find it in the 32GB version. The $179 version we’re testing comes with 64GB of eMMC storage.
Typing feels OK – not amazing – and the trackpad is surprisingly solid and nice to use. Sure, it’s small, but the surface stays smooth and the click mechanism is great, too. This is another area where companies tend to cut corners and where I can forgive a lot on a sub-$200 Chromebook, I’d rather not sacrifice the keyboard and trackpad experience. Thankfully, HP did no such thing and the input methods are very solid on this diminutive Chromebook.
Another surprise was the speakers. Trust me, I’ve heard far worse audio on far larger and far more expensive Chromebooks. While not something I want to sit and jam to all day, these speakers are plenty loud and reproduce spoken word with solid clarity. They’ll be great for all those Google Meet and Zoom calls you’ll likely be taking on it.
Inside, this Chromebook is powered by the MediaTek MT8183 and is the same setup we get in the entry-level Lenovo Chromebook Duet. Performance was better than expected as the resolution is only 1366×768 vs. the Duet’s 1920×1200. Doing the math, that means about a 55% reduction in the actual number of pixels on screen to push around, so you feel that in the performance. Sure, there are still slow downs the minute you really start pushing things a bit, but the decent snappiness of this device makes the Duet feel slow by comparison.
Coupled with that processor, the model we have comes equipped with 4GB of RAM and 64GB of eMMC storage. Many models will come in at 4GB/32GB, so be wary of what you are buying and pay attention. Again, the upgrade to a touchscreen will vastly improve the display and will push the price up over $200, but for many the cost is worth it. Either way, you are getting a pretty competent Chromebook for a very low price with some stellar battery life to boot. HP touts 15+ hours and I’d wager most users will see between 11-13 hours on a single charge with regular use. That’s pretty awesome.
So, is this Chromebook worth the asking price? 100% it is! With a more-sturdy build than most in this price range, a reasonable keyboard/trackpad, and long battery life, you have the makings of a very, very solid Chromebook package. If you are at all interested in this one, that tells me that overall value is what you are after, and I really think the HP Chromebook 11a delivers in that regard. Whether it acts as a secondary device around the house or a decent performer for the kids, the HP 11a deserves your attention. And after some of HP’s earlier attempts at cheap Chromebooks, I’m very glad to say that is the case this time around.