UPDATE – November 2nd, 2023: Right now, over at Best Buy, there’s a clearance sale on the original HP Chromebook x360 14c and, as I outline in the original post below, that device is inferior to the Chromebook Plus model. Since this post over a week ago, the new HP Chromebook Plus x360 14c has gone on sale for a wild $320 off.
Not only is this a better overall value, the newer version is actually cheaper as well! Please read what I have to say in the original post below and if you are shopping for the HP Chromebook Plus x360 14c, make sure you get the new one! Original article, published October 25th, 2023 continues below.
We knew when this Chromebook Plus stuff started actually rolling out that there would be some overlap with the newly-announced, branded Chromebook Plus models. We’ve said it before and I’ll say it again; there was never a good time for Google to pull off the Band-Aid in introducing this new Chromebook segment. And right now, we’re seeing a bit of the issue with this sort of transition in some confusing listings at Best Buy for the new HP Chromebook Plus x360 14c.
Clarifying “new” Chromebook Plus models
We don’t have much longer to be having these sorts of conversations, and I’m glad for that. But for the time being, I’ll keep beating the drum about the new Chromebook Plus models, the fact that 5 of the 8 already technically existed before the Chromebook Plus-branded versions arrived, and the fact that until the non-branded versions are off store shelves, there will be opportunities for confusion.
So, let me quickly beat that drum. Of the 8 new Chromebook Plus models introduced at the event in the beginning of October, only 3 of those devices were actually new. What I mean by that is only 3 Chromebook Plus models with the new Chromebook Plus logo on the lid are actually fresh, new, never-made-before hardware. The ASUS Chromebook Plus CX34, the Acer Chromebook Plus 514, and Acer Chromebook Plus 515 are the only legitimately new hardware. The other 5 are rebranded hardware that has been around for a few months prior to the announcement.
Chromebook Plus confusion
So, when we report of deals for those non-branded devices like the ASUS Chromebook CM34 Flip being on sale to make room for the new, branded version, we’re trying desperately to make it clear that when you buy one of these devices that has been reborn as a branded Chromebook Plus device, you’re getting the same hardware and software experience across the board and are only missing the new Chromebook Plus logo printed on the lid. That is the only difference.
And that means anyone who wants one of these non-branded devices should jump on deals when they arrive since those won’t be around much longer. Once that inventory is gone, it’ll never come back. However, the good news there is we’re already seeing fantastic deals on the Chromebook Plus branded devices, so even when the non-branded variants finally do disappear, there will still be deals to be had.
HP x360 14c confusion
So that brings us to the current situation with the HP Chromebook x360 14c. For weeks, the non-branded version has been on sale and clearly making way for the new, branded version. Both are $699, and seeing the “older” version on sale frequently made plenty of sense and as long as you understood all I said above about branded and non-branded Chromebook Plus devices, you could land a sweet deal on this device.
But now the switch has flipped and things are weird. Since yesterday, the Plus-branded version of this Chromebook has been on sale for $200 while the non-branded one is at full MSRP. So, if you weren’t paying close enough attention and you were set on buying the x360 14c, you could easily mistake one for the other.
And the more painful part of that is the fact that the Plus-branded version also comes with a nice storage upgrade of 256GB, so if you got the wrong one, you not only miss out on the new branding on the lid; you also spent $200 too much and got half the storage you should have.
Chromebook Plus should make things less confusing
While many of you who read our content here on a regular basis wouldn’t make that mistake, there are general consumers out there that simply don’t know the Chromebook landscape well enough to make the distinction. When the newer, better version of a laptop is available for $200 less, your mind automatically tells you that something is wrong. And that sort of buyer confusion isn’t what Google was after with Chromebook Plus.
Instead, Chromebook Plus is a move towards far more clarity for consumers to know that if they buy one of these devices, they are going to get a great experience. During the transition period, there are going to be bumps in the road, and this is a big one for now. I suppose it would be equally confusing if both were on sale for $200 off, but I don’t think that is the answer, either.
For Chromebook models that have a Plus version out on shelves, I really think Google should push retailers to make sure the non-Plus branded version is always a bit cheaper than the branded one. That is a clear sign that one is missing something the other has; and even if that is simply an updated logo, the consumer needs to clearly understand this when they are in a store or shopping online.
Again, in the coming weeks as that older inventory sells out, we won’t have this to talk about any longer. And I’m looking forward to that. I think Chromebook Plus can help clarify the Chromebook buying process and I think this will be a net positive move from the ChromeOS team; I just think we need a few more weeks for the growing pains to subside.