Though there are countless Chromebooks out there to be interested in, there aren’t near as many processors. We generally see the same large and small core offerings from Intel each year, but the other players in the ChromeOS game have been upping their output. We now have a couple Snapdragon models (and one notable new one on the way), a few AMD options, and a few MediaTek SoCs out there. All told, that’s not a ton of processors to keep up with, so when a new one comes along, it gets our attention.
Thus is the story of the HP Chromebook x360 13b, a device that looks great, has some design flaws, and will make a decent Chromebook thanks mainly to the silicon on the inside: the new MediaTek Kompanio 1200. While this processor is a step less powerful than the much-loved Kompanio 1380 found in the Acer Chromebook Spin 513, it should still provide solid performance and stellar battery life. For now, we’re just getting introduced to this Chromebook, hopping in the box, and giving things an initial look.
It’s all about the Kompanio 1200
If you watch the video, you’ll catch one thing right off the jump: I don’t love this Chromebook. From the very flimsy bottom half to the somewhat dim screen (250 nits), this Chromebook is a masterclass in the looks not matching the feel. On the desk, it looks great: thin, light, matte finished and convertible. The x360 14b seems impressive at first blush.
But once you open it up (which is infuriatingly difficult, BTW), you’ll quickly lose that impression as the bottom half of this device feels like an afterthought. There’s a nice keyboard and trackpad, but they are seated in a frame that feels like it might crack if picked up the wrong way. The glass and aluminum lid feels top-heavy by contrast and it makes the whole thing feel poorly planned.
There are 2 USB Type C ports and a single Type A, joined by a microSD card slot and headphone/microphone jack. With a chassis this poorly made, I wouldn’t have expected this, but the speakers on board are quite good. They are loud, full, and some of the best I’ve heard on a thin/light Chromebook. There’s also USI pen support if you’re looking for it, too. Final point: the 720p webcam is one of the worst I’ve seen in a while. It’s really bad.
For me, however, those things are all sideshows to the main attraction: the Kompanio 1200. Moving around the x360 so far, I’m impressed with this chip. It is fanless, of course, but it should also provide really strong battery life numbers and still give you performance that doesn’t cause frustration. Running Android apps should be great on this one, too, but all this needs testing.
I need to spend a few days working from this device to really get a feel for the battery life. If it is strong and the processor keeps up like I’m expecting it to, I’m really excited for other devices that will house this chip in the future. I’m not going to mince words: I don’t recommend buying this particular Chromebook because of the vast number of drawbacks to the hardware. But the processor could be a great balance of performance, battery life and cost, and if it does well after a few days of use, I’ll be really hyped for other Chromebooks to ship with this Kompanio 1200 inside. Hang tight as I test this out, and for now, I’d hold off on looking at purchasing this one.