The HP Chromebook 11 - see full review - is a thing of beauty, if you like acres of glossy white plastic. Details such as the light-up strip of Google colours and the blue accents are nice touches, but it also comes in black if you prefer.
Look around the curved edges and you’ll find more seamless plastic. The only connections are on the left-hand side: a pair of USB 2 ports, a headphone output and a micro-USB charging port.
In theory it should charge from your PC, laptop or any USB charger you have lying around, but in practice only some chargers work. Using the supplied charger, it takes around four hours.
The lack of HDMI isn’t a big problem since you can buy a SlimPort adaptor for between 10 and 20 pounds. This will give you a full size HDMI output.
What’s annoying is the absence of an SD slot, although USB card readers don’t cost much.
HP Chromebook 11 video review: keyboard, touchpad and screen
The keyboard is excellent: sturdy and pleasant to type on. The dedicated search key (in place of Caps Lock) is genuinely useful, and the top row of shortcut keys lets you adjust brightness, volume and more.
The touchpad isn’t so successful. Its rough surface is the opposite of the smooth plastic elsewhere. Instead of gliding, your fingers stutter over it and it doesn’t feel as sensitive or responsive as it should do. There’s support for gestures including scrolling and pinch-to-zoom, but the buttons are built-in – and we always prefer separate buttons.
There’s good news however. The screen is actually very good. Yes, it has a glossy, reflective finish, but since it’s an IPS panel, it’s bright, colourful and has good contrast and viewing angles. The resolution is standard fare, but text doesn’t look blocky.
HP Chromebook 11 video review: build quality
Underneath the plastic shell is a magnesium alloy frame. This makes the base nice and rigid but the screen is another matter entirely. It flexes, bends and twists an awful lot, but if you’re careful you should have no problems.
Weighing just 1kg, the HP Chomebook 11 feels amazingly light so you can carry it everywhere with you.
HP Chromebook 11 video review: performance and battery life
Underneath the sleek exterior is the processor from Google Nexus 10 tablet. Chrome OS needs more grunt than Android, though, and the Chromebook 11 doesn’t feel as zippy as the Nexus.
Web pages take longer to load and don’t scroll as smoothly. It’s not unacceptably slow, but every time you use the Chromebook 11, you’re reminded that it’s a budget device.
Battery life isn’t particularly great. It lasted around five hours in our tests – that’s around half what the next-generation of Chromebooks promise, which should be launching soon.
HP Chromebook 11 video review: Chrome OS
If you’ve never used Chrome OS, it can take some getting used to. You can think of it as a laptop with only a web browser, which means there are few offline capabilities.
Google has made offline Gmail and Drive a lot better, but you can’t get a Chromebook out of the box and create a new document with no internet connection.
You won’t be using Outlook to check your email, either or using Photoshop to edit photos. You can watch videos and browse photos from a USB drive without an internet connection, though.
Printing is possible, as long as you have a newish, compatible printer, and you can download email attachments and save them to the 16 gig of internal storage or a USB drive. You also get 100GB of free online storage for two years, which is standard with all Chromebooks.
HP Chromebook 11 video review: verdict
The Chromebook 11 looks great. It’s small and light and has good screen. However, build quality isn’t quite up to scratch and – more importantly – neither is performance.
Acer's soon-to-be-launched Chromebook C720 costs less than £200, yet uses a much faster Celeron processor. The bad news is that the C720’s screen isn’t as good as the HP’s.
We’re yet to be convinced by Chromebooks as a concept, but with several new models being launched in the next few months, it’s definitely worth waiting to see if one of them can combine good performance with a good screen at the right price.
HP’s latest effort aims well, but misses the mark.