Comparing lightweight notebook PCs from two top manufacturers
Both HP and Lenovo have been around for quite a while, and both are renowned for their premium business-class laptops. At the other end of the spectrum, both of these computing powerhouses have a wide selection of not only affordable Windows laptops, but also low-priced yet versatile Chromebooks. In some cases, users can even customize their machines when purchasing straight from the manufacturer.
The differences between HP and Lenovo Chromebooks are minor, but there are still some things to be aware of. Lenovo’s Chromebooks tend to look and feel slightly more polished, while HP offers a significantly wider range of choices with more customizable options.
While a lot of Lenovo’s most popular laptops are high-performance models meant for demanding users, its Chromebook offerings actually stand out as especially cost-effective. In particular, the Lenovo Duet is one of the smallest Chromebooks that still packs enough power for a streamlined experience.
Lenovo Chromebook pros
Lenovo Chromebooks are, for the most part, relatively affordable. They’re also pretty durable, and their build quality is better than Chromebooks from many other brands. A couple of Lenovo’s offerings sport convertible designs that make them effective tablets. You’ll also find that Lenovo Chromebooks tend to have good battery lives as well as microSD card readers for expanding storage.
Lenovo Chromebook cons
In general, most Chromebooks are just a little too big and heavy for one-handed use. Also, when switching to Chrome OS from macOS or Windows, make sure you don’t need access to any of the various apps and programs that Chrome OS doesn’t support. Also keep in mind that there are very few Chromebooks with resolutions higher than 1080p, and many go as low as 768p.
Top Lenovo Chromebooks
In a world full of relatively similar Chromebooks, the Duet stands out largely because it’s so small. In fact, at 10.5 inches, it’s the same size as the popular, base iPad and many popular Android tablets. Despite its size, it’s able to run Chrome OS relatively smoothly, as long as you don’t push it too hard with complex and high-resource apps. As long as you can get used to its relatively small keyboard — which, despite its size, provides a pleasant typing experience — the Lenovo Duet is one of the most portable and functional devices on the market.
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Don’t let the midrange price of this one fool you. It’s modeled after the well-made and high-performing Windows laptop of the same name and outfitted with some of the latest technology, including Bluetooth 5.0 and Wi-Fi 6. It uses a 10th-generation Intel Core i3 CPU that’s powerful enough to do just about anything in Chrome OS without any hiccups. The 13-inch touchscreen allows for precise control, and the 360-degree hinge lets you use it like a tablet. The only real drawback is that it’s difficult to hold with one hand, partly because of its size and partly because it weighs 3 pounds.
There’s nothing particularly surprising about this option, which is actually one of its strong points. It’s affordable and easy to use and can even withstand the occasional short drop. One thing of note is the MediaTek 8183 CPU, which sports four high-powered cores and four high-efficiency cores to ensure a long battery life. Otherwise, this is a run-of-the-mill Chromebook that’s perfect for taking to school or on long trips.
This is one of the Chromebooks mentioned that’s so powerful, it could easily run Windows. Unfortunately, dual-booting Windows on a Chromebook ranges from difficult to impossible, so that’s not really an option, but rest assured that this ThinkPad is every bit as well made as the rest of the vaunted ThinkPad line.
HP was one of the first widely praised manufacturers of netbooks and then Chromebooks, so you can be reasonably sure you’re getting a well-made piece of equipment when you buy any of its laptops.
HP Chromebook pros
For the most part, HP makes remarkably sturdy Chromebooks with a premium fit and finish. It even offers a few ruggedized models that would work well for kids or anyone working in adverse conditions. If you have very specific needs, you can also customize a number of its Chromebooks. If, for some reason, you need a remarkably powerful Chromebook, HP is probably your best bet.
HP Chromebook cons
One of the difficulties of choosing an HP Chromebook is that the sheer number of models can be daunting to pick through. That’s not exactly a con of the devices themselves, but more of the selection process. Otherwise, there aren’t a ton of drawbacks to HP Chromebooks. A good number of them do have pretty thick bezels, but you can find some with slim bezels if you look.
Top HP Chromebooks
This convertible two-in-one is actually pretty light for a Chromebook, making it a little easier to use as a tablet than most others. The Intel Celeron CPU powering it delivers plenty of performance for the lightweight Chrome OS, and the integrated GPU is noticeably more powerful than what’s usually paired with slower, mobile-class CPUs. The bezel is a little bulky, but all in all this is a great, budget-friendly Chromebook.
Sure, it’s inexpensive, but probably the biggest selling point of this model is its size. Granted, it’s not ideal for those with poor eyesight or large hands, but at 11 inches, it’s almost as portable as anything else out there. Despite its small size, it doesn’t have much trouble running most apps, as long as you avoid the most demanding software. There is also an optional touchscreen version to consider. The biggest drawback of the 11a is that it has only 32 GB of storage inside, so your best bet is to get a microSD card to go along with it.
To be clear, HP does offer more powerful and more expensive Chromebooks than the c640. Most users, however, won’t actually notice much of a difference with more capable hardware than the c640 has, because Chrome OS doesn’t need a ton of firepower to run well. Nonetheless, this is a high-powered Chromebook worth considering, especially if you plan on playing any games.
Should you get a Lenovo or HP Chromebook?
At the end of the day, both HP and Lenovo make excellent Chromebooks. Lenovo offers a slightly better selection of low-cost models that look and feel like high-end laptops, while HP’s models don’t look quite as fancy but can be purchased with significantly more power under the hood.
For those reasons, it’s tough to make a definitive call. For most users, it’s recommended to set your price range, then consider which is the most powerful and portable HP or Lenovo Chromebook to fit that range.
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Chris Thomas writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.
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