HP is starting to make Chromebooks exciting again. This morning, it unveiled the Chromebook 13, a slim, all-metal laptop that looks nicer than most Chromebooks that came before it. It should run better than most Chromebooks that came before it, too.
We had a chance to check out the new laptop after an event at Google's New York offices. It's a pretty impressive machine given its $499 starting price, but that also means that it comes with a lot of caveats.
First, the good stuff. The Chromebook 13 looks nice and feels well made. It's thin and light, and it'll definitely catch your eye when placed beside other Chromebooks. Its display looks great even in a bright room, and its speakers get surprisingly loud for being inside such a small package. Because this is a 13.3-inch laptop, HP is able to include a full-size keyboard, which felt nice and clicky.
Now the caveats. The Chromebook 13's all-aluminum body feels sturdy, but not anywhere near as strong as something like the MacBook. And its brushed-metal look isn't my favorite — it almost seems like HP is trying to make the metal look higher quality than it actually is. (Plus, it's hard not to see brushed metal and think of old OS X.) The metal is also a little rough around the bottom of the laptop, which could be a bit irritating depending on how you hold it.
But it's worth keeping in mind that this is a laptop that starts at $499. And while you'll almost definitely want to step up to the $599 Core M model if you're interested in buying this machine, that's still a relatively low price for a laptop that's built this nicely.
The Chromebook 13 is supposed to start shipping next month. We'll have more then.
All photos by Max Jeffrey.