We were just talking about new Chromebooks hitting the market this fall during our podcast and right after we wrapped up, a new email came in from HP to announce not one but two new convertible Chromebooks that will support the latest USI (universal stylus initiative) styluses. Additionally, these two new devices will be attractive, affordable, and convertible Chromebooks that could be fantastic gifts come this holiday season.
First up, let’s get the specs and pics out of the way, shall we? We have a 12-inch and 14-inch version, both carrying the x360 branding but with an additional ‘b’ appended on the name. So, we’re looking at the HP Chromebook x360 12b and 14b, but the internals will largely be the same between both.
- Celeron N4000 (Gemini Lake) or Pentium Silver processor
- 4GB of RAM
- 32GB-128GB internal storage
- 3:2 HD+ (1366×912) 12-inch IPS touch screen or 16:9 HD/FHD touch screen
- 2.98 pounds (12b) or 3.48 pounds (14b)
- Narrow bezel screens
- Ceramic lid with aluminum keyboard deck
- USI stylus support with magnetic stylus dock
HP Chromebook x360 12b
HP Chromebook x360 14b
A Few Thoughts
Until we get one of these to review, of course, we can’t form any full-blown opinions on these devices, but I can tell you a few initial observations. First, I’m pumped about the addition of the USI stylus ($69 for HP’s rechargeable one) because it is just plain awesome. You can read more about this whole initiative in Gabriel’s article, but the gist is pretty simple: there is now a universal stylus setup that will work on any device that adopts USI. Down the road, you may be able to buy one Stylus that you like and it will work on all your devices. If USI continues making inroads, the days of trying to figure out if this stylus will work on that device will go away. As will the manufacturer lock-in you run into when buying one. Competition is great for everyone, and the Stylus market has been devoid of it too long. Oh, and HP has said the HP USI Stylus will be both rechargeable and able to dock to the Chromebooks via magnetized stylus docking. Finally, a place for the stylus to live!
Second, I just like the look of these devices. It seems they’ve kept the materials in the lid from the excellent HP Chromebook x360 from last year, and that’s a good thing. The color is great and the surface doesn’t show fingerprints at all. The keyboard deck being aluminum also adds a nice bit of sturdiness and a clean look on the inside, making these new Chromebooks mainly aluminum (assuming that lid is the same ceramic-finish aluminum again) and not a mostly-plastic ordeal.
The 3:2 screen option on the 12-inch is delightful, making a 12-inch screen feel closer to a 13-inch when we’re talking screen real estate and square centimeters. The resolution won’t be tack-sharp, but the 1366×912 looks pretty good the the Acer Chromebook 512, so I like HP’s choice here. The 14-inch model will likely have a terrible panel in the standard HD size, so unless we get a nice surprise there, I’d steer clear. My guess is the FHD in the 14-inch will be similar to the panel in the former x360, which is to say decent to look at but a tad bit dim.
Pricing for the models starts at $359 for the 12b and $379 for the 14b and that will likely include the Celeron N4000, 4GB of RAM, and a paltry 32GB of internal storage. We won’t know pricing for models with more storage until closer to launch, but I’d expect a $50 hike to bump up to 64GB of storage. For a mostly-aluminum, USI-stylus compatible, 3:2 convertible Chromebook, I like these prices. Don’t forget the propensity for Chromebooks to nosedive in price within weeks of launch, too. With all the devices hitting shelves in the next month or so, I’d imagine you’ll be able to walk into a Best Buy and snag one of these for under $300 before you know it.