comscore HP Chromebook 11a review: Great for students, not so for professionals
Review

HP Chromebook 11a review: Great for students, not so for professionals

The HP Chromebook 11a is among the most affordable laptops you can buy in 2021 but the use case is best limited to student requirements. Here’s our review.

HP Chromebook 11a

HP Chromebook 11a 4.0 5
BGR Rating :
4.0/5

A new world order is implemented post the COVID-19 pandemic and digital is now the only way forward. With more COVID waves incoming, it is likely to stay the same. This translates to horror for burdened middle-class parents but a victory for tech brands; the latter now able to sell horrendous cheap Android tablets at higher prices than before. HP thinks it can play the saviour hero here with its Chromebook 11a laptop. Also Read - Amazon Prime Day sale last day: Best affordable student laptops available under Rs 30,000

Instead of spending Rs 15,000-Rs 17,000 on an underpowered and obsolete tablet, HP wants you to pay Rs 21,990 for its “laptop” aimed at the student class. The Chromebook 11a looks and feels like a proper laptop, complete with a well-laid keyboard and a “big enough” display. The only catch here is Chrome OS instead of Windows 10, which changes the way you compute daily. Also Read - HP Victus gaming laptop series launches in India, starts at Rs 64,999

To find out if it is suitable for your kids or your writing needs, I took a journey with the HP Chromebook 11a for 10 days as my main laptop and the outcomes are nothing short of surprising. Also Read - Google's offline dinosaur game in new Olympics avatar: Here's how to can play

Design

When a laptop screams “budget” throughout its promotional materials, it’s better to prepare yourself for compromises in dollops. I did the same with the Chromebook 11a owing to its dated design but not beyond that. While HP may have picked a design straight from the old days of “netbooks”, it has ensured that the laptop survives the carefree hands of children.

HP Chromebook 11a

Despite an all-plastic shell, the Chromebook 11a is sturdy and dust resistant. The blue colour across the deck and lid livens up the mood in comparison to the dull black cheap Windows laptops. The lid picks up dirt and grime but is easy to clean with a moist wipe. The hinge is firm and does not exhibit squeaks. The build quality is up there with some midrange Windows laptops, which is high praise for one that costs Rs 22,000.

The fat bezels around the 11.6-inch display are an eyesore initially but HP deserves to be credited for using a good quality display panel (more on that later). The port selection is as spartan as a cave, with just a single USB-A port, a microSD card port, a 3.5mm audio/mic jack, and a USB-C port. Not great for a “laptop” but the lowly price tag doesn’t let us ask for more.

HP Chromebook 11a

At 1 Kg, the weight is well contained to not probably hurt young shoulders. Also, the design has no rough edges to hurt young users. Kudos to HP for using a matured design, even if it looks dated.

Display

Despite the 11.6-inch display surrounded by thick bezels, kudos to HP for using a good quality display. With a 45 percent colour gamut and up to 220 nits of brightness, the display here is better than ones of some entry-level Windows laptops from Dell and HP itself. Moreover, this is a touchscreen display that’s as responsive as similarly priced Android tablets.

HP Chromebook 11a

My use case involved editing photos for news stories, watching YouTube videos, and browsing a lot of websites; all of which seemed to not stress the Chromebook 11a’s display. The touchscreen helps a lot until you get adapted to Chrome OS’s inverse touchpad gestures. All in all, I don’t have any complaints from the display and I assume it would be same for most users.

Performance

This is where you start to see why the Chromebook 11a is that cheap. Running underneath that blue plastic shell is a MediaTek MT8183 SoC similar to what you find in Android tablets. This is paired with 4GB of LPDDR4X RAM and 64GB of eMMC storage. The microSD card slot allows for expansion up to 256GB.

Chrome OS is famous for its efficient utilization of resources and on meagre firepower like this, it can theoretically match a base Windows 10 laptop in terms of performance. Practically, the situation is different. With the HP Chromebook 11a, there’s some waiting involved before you embark on your task. That waiting period ranges from half a second to a couple of them at times.

HP Chromebook 11a

For basic “student” tasks, the Chromebook 11a has enough power to keep up. Opening and browsing Gmail, dealing with Google Docs, shuffling between a few websites, and taking video calls is completely fine for the laptop. However, there are moments of hesitation before you open an app, or load up a website.

The situation is magnified for non-student tasks. As a journalist, I usually deal with 8-9 Chrome tabs at a time along with MS Teams open in the background. This is as basic as my workflow can get and yet, the Chromebook 11a huffed and puffed like a lazy kid evading PT classes. It takes time to load up a page, or just switch to another tab. The speeds slow further when I opened Google Play Store, or another app. App versions of MS Teams, Gmail, and Outlook are slow to react, and their web versions aren’t much faster in comparison.

 

To simplify it, the Chromebook 11a is not as eager as an affordable Windows 10 laptop. I figure this is mostly due to the weak MediaTek chip and the slow eMMC storage. Additionally, 4GB of RAM is no good on a smartphone for multitasking, let alone on a laptop designed for work. In fact, this MediaTek chip offers performance capable to a Snapdragon 660 chip, which itself is no powerhouse by today’s means even for a midrange Android phone.

HP Chromebook 11a

In essence, every time I had to get some work done urgently, I had to turn to my Windows 10 PC. The Chromebook 11a just cannot keep up with the rushed workload that my profession expects from a laptop.

While the performance suffers from the lackluster hardware, Chrome OS plays its part beautifully to keep up with the rest of the package. There’s a slight learning curve for those coming from Windows PCs but kids can surely learn the entire settings page in a day or two (kids are far more tech-savvy than us lot writing on tech). If you have an Android phone, the integration is superb as you can share device notifications on your laptop and even fetch its data connection when Wi-Fi isn’t available.

The Play Store opens up a portal to lakhs of Android apps that can do your regular PC stuff well. But then again, the weak hardware struggles to host those apps comfortably. The compromise also comes to the audio division as HP is using two teeny tiny speakers. The audio quality is fine if you are willing to use it for video calls. The volume levels are painfully low and I often had to use earphones or wireless speakers to hear out my teammates on Zoom.

HP Chromebook 11a

The saving grace comes in the form of a brilliant keyboard as well as a responsive trackpad. I was able to type 1000 words long documents without any issue. The keys have sufficient travel with minimized ghosting. There’s no backlighting but I assume most users would be working in well-lit surroundings. The trackpad reads multi-finger gestures accurately.

The webcam quality is decent too and kids looking to attend online classes will be satisfied with the output.

Battery

The entire appeal of ARM-based laptops is enhanced battery life and the same is visible on the Chromebook 11a. Despite having a small 37Wh capacity battery, the Chromebook 11a can easily last an entire day of work. For those who love numbers, the Chromebook 11a on average lasts 12-13 hours of usage. Do note that this usage includes some stressed use patterns like dealing with 8-9 Chrome tabs, writing on Google Docs, staying connected to Wi-Fi and an Android phone via Bluetooth, and keeping the device mostly on standby when not in use. Compared to an entry-level Windows laptop, that’s substantially more.

The 45W USB-C charging adapter is termed fast but it takes over an hour and a half to fill up the battery. HP using a USB-C port for charging as well as data transfer is a welcome change in this part of the laptop world.

Verdict

HP Chromebook 11a

Tailoring a laptop to fit a price of under Rs 30,000 is a great feat in 2021 and HP selling the Chromebook 11a for Rs 21,990 is an effort that deserves applause. As more households struggle to get a grip on our suddenly modernized education system, the Chromebook 11a is a blessing for the financially challenged ones who want to offer a wholesome education experience to their kids.

The Chromebook 11a is a durable yet lightweight laptop for kids to mess around with. It offers the familiarity of a Windows laptop while delivering on the modern era of touch-based computing. Chrome OS as a platform is more capable than cheap Android-based tablets and offers just the right amount of everything to get some serious computing done. The splendid battery life is a cherry on the cake.

Sadly, the restricted performance limits its usage to kids and students. Professionals looking for a basic laptop to write, create reports or messing around with Excel sheets, and do light photo editing will still be better off with a pricier-in-comparison yet affordable Windows 10 laptop. You will be happy with this HP as long as your work revolves around Google services on the web.

Hence, the HP Chromebook 11a fits the bill better as your child’s first laptop experience without paying a laptop-kind of money. It may not be among the fast laptops we all crave for but at Rs 21,990, there’s hardly anything to complain about. The compact design with a playful colour, nice display, laptop-like functionality, and great battery life are reasons to consider this over anything else in its category, and above.

For the latest tech news across the world, latest PC and Mobile games, tips & tricks, top-notch gadget reviews of most exciting releases follow BGR India’s Facebook, Twitter, subscribe our YouTube Channel. Also follow us on  Facebook Messenger for latest updates.
  • Published Date: June 21, 2021 6:22 PM IST



new arrivals in india

Xiaomi Redmi Note 10T 5G
Xiaomi Redmi Note 10T 5G

13,999

Samsung Galaxy F22
Samsung Galaxy F22

12,499

Xiaomi Mi 11 Lite
Xiaomi Mi 11 Lite

21,999

Infinix Note 10 Pro
Infinix Note 10 Pro

16,999

Infinix Note 10
Infinix Note 10

10,999

Vivo Y73
Vivo Y73

20,990

OnePlus Nord CE 5G
OnePlus Nord CE 5G

22,999

iQOO Z3
iQOO Z3

19,990

Realme C25s
Realme C25s

9,999

Poco M3 Pro 5G
Poco M3 Pro 5G

13,999

Realme X7 Max 5G
Realme X7 Max 5G

26,999

Oppo F19
Oppo F19

18,990

Motorola Moto G40 Fusion
Motorola Moto G40 Fusion

13,999

POCO M2 Reloaded
POCO M2 Reloaded

9,499

OPPO A74 5G
OPPO A74 5G

17,990

Oppo A53s 5G
Oppo A53s 5G

14,990

Vivo V21 5G
Vivo V21 5G

29,990

Realme C25
Realme C25

9,499

Realme C21
Realme C21

7,999

Realme C20
Realme C20

6,799

Motorola Moto G60
Motorola Moto G60

17,999

iQOO 7
iQOO 7

31,990

Samsung Galaxy M42 5G
Samsung Galaxy M42 5G

21,999

Xiaomi Mi 11 Ultra
Xiaomi Mi 11 Ultra

69,999

Xiaomi Mi 11X Pro 5G
Xiaomi Mi 11X Pro 5G

39,999

Xiaomi Mi 11X
Xiaomi Mi 11X

29,999

Realme 8 5G
Realme 8 5G

13,999

Samsung Galaxy F02s
Samsung Galaxy F02s

8,999

Samsung Galaxy F12
Samsung Galaxy F12

10,999

POCO X3 Pro
POCO X3 Pro

18,999

Realme 8 Pro
Realme 8 Pro

17,999

Realme 8
Realme 8

14,999

Vivo X60 Pro Plus
Vivo X60 Pro Plus

69,990

Vivo X60 Pro
Vivo X60 Pro

49,990

Vivo X60
Vivo X60

37,990

OnePlus 9 Pro 5G
OnePlus 9 Pro 5G

64,999

OnePlus 9R 5G
OnePlus 9R 5G

39,999

OnePlus 9 5G
OnePlus 9 5G

49,999

Samsung Galaxy A72
Samsung Galaxy A72

34,999

Samsung Galaxy A52
Samsung Galaxy A52

26,499

Micromax In 1
Micromax In 1

10,499

Asus ROG Phone 5
Asus ROG Phone 5

49,999

Samsung Galaxy M12
Samsung Galaxy M12

10,999

Motorola Moto G30
Motorola Moto G30

10,999

Motorola Moto G10 Power
Motorola Moto G10 Power

9,999

Oppo F19 Pro Plus 5G
Oppo F19 Pro Plus 5G

25,990

Oppo F19 Pro
Oppo F19 Pro

21,490

Xiaomi Redmi Note 10 Pro Max
Xiaomi Redmi Note 10 Pro Max

18,999

Xiaomi Redmi Note 10 Pro
Xiaomi Redmi Note 10 Pro

15,999

Xiaomi Redmi Note 10
Xiaomi Redmi Note 10

11,999

Realme Narzo 30A
Realme Narzo 30A

8,999

Realme Narzo 30 Pro
Realme Narzo 30 Pro

16,999

Infinix Smart 5
Infinix Smart 5

7,199

Samsung Galaxy F62
Samsung Galaxy F62

23,999

Samsung Galaxy A12
Samsung Galaxy A12

12,999

Nokia 5.4
Nokia 5.4

13,999

Nokia 3.4
Nokia 3.4

11,999

Realme X7 Pro 5G
Realme X7 Pro 5G

29,999

Realme X7
Realme X7

19,999

Vivo Y31
Vivo Y31

16,490

Oppo Reno5 Pro 5G
Oppo Reno5 Pro 5G

35,990

Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G
Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G

1,05,999

Samsung Galaxy S21 Plus 5G
Samsung Galaxy S21 Plus 5G

81,999

Samsung Galaxy S21 5G
Samsung Galaxy S21 5G

69,999

Vivo Y12s
Vivo Y12s

9,990

Vivo Y51A
Vivo Y51A

17,990

Samsung Galaxy M02s
Samsung Galaxy M02s

8,999

Xiaomi Mi 10i
Xiaomi Mi 10i

21,999

Oppo A15s
Oppo A15s

11,490

Tecno Spark 6 Go
Tecno Spark 6 Go

8,499

Vivo V20 2021
Vivo V20 2021

24,990

Vivo Y20A
Vivo Y20A

11,490

Xiaomi Redmi 9 Power
Xiaomi Redmi 9 Power

11,999

Motorola Moto G9 Power
Motorola Moto G9 Power

11,999

Motorola Moto G 5G
Motorola Moto G 5G

20,999

Vivo V20 Pro
Vivo V20 Pro

29,990

Xiaomi Mi 10T
Xiaomi Mi 10T

35,999

Xiaomi Redmi 9i
Xiaomi Redmi 9i

8,299

Xiaomi Mi 10T Pro
Xiaomi Mi 10T Pro

39,999

Infinix Hot 10
Infinix Hot 10

9,999

Vivo V20 SE
Vivo V20 SE

20,990

Vivo V20
Vivo V20

24,990

Micromax In 1b
Micromax In 1b

6,999

Micromax In Note 1
Micromax In Note 1

10,999

OnePlus 8T
OnePlus 8T

42,999

Samsung Galaxy F41
Samsung Galaxy F41

15,499

Apple iPhone 12 Pro Max
Apple iPhone 12 Pro Max

1,29,900

Apple iPhone 12 Pro
Apple iPhone 12 Pro

1,19,900

Apple iPhone 12 Mini
Apple iPhone 12 Mini

69,900

Apple iPhone 12
Apple iPhone 12

79,900

Poco X3
Poco X3

16,999

Realme Narzo 20A
Realme Narzo 20A

8,499

Realme Narzo 20
Realme Narzo 20

10,499

Realme Narzo 20 Pro
Realme Narzo 20 Pro

13,999

Oppo F17
Oppo F17

16,990

Samsung Galaxy M51
Samsung Galaxy M51

22,999

Best Sellers