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HP Chromebook X360 12b and 14b with support for universal styluses (USI)

By Brian O'Cralley , last updated on September 30, 2019

HP has updated their mid-range Chromebook line-up with the HP Chromebook X360 12b and Chromebook X360 14b. Both of these are convertible/2-in-1 devices, which we believe is the best way to utilize ChromeOS, along with included universal stylus (USI) support.

The model numbers also follow the trend of denoting the screen size, which is 12-inches and 14-inches respectively.

The Chromebook category has been dominated by the entry-level devices, with affordable price tags or ruggedized designs. After all, these are the sorts of devices that appeal the most to ChromeOS’s strongest market segment — the BYOD education market. Some children who have grown up using ChromeOS will want to continue using it, rather than switching to Windows or macOS, and this is where the slowly increasing demand for mid-range ChromeOS devices stems from.

Most of the specs have had slight upgrades over the entry-level, but are still fairly pedestrian for a Chromebook, with a Celeron N4000 2C/2T 1.1/2.6 GHz processor, 4 GB RAM, and 32 GB eMMC storage.

It’s the improvements in other areas that justify the higher price. The body is metal rather than plastic, an Intel 9560 provides 2×2 802.11ac and Bluetooth 5.0, and the X360 12b has a 3:2 FullHD+ display. Based on other devices we’ve used with 3:2 displays, we can assume that the 12b will feel less cramped on webpages and text documents than other 12-inch devices using a 16:9 aspect ratio.

Confusingly, the X360 14b has a standard 16:9 1366×768 panel, despite the larger physical size. This resolution is what we expect from the cheaper education devices, and at 14-inches, the pixels will be noticeable.

HP Chromebook X360 12b

The HP Chromebook X360 has the higher resolution display of the two new models, and has a more useful 3:2 aspect ratio.

Rounding out the I/O is a single USB3.1, 2 x USB-C 3.1 for charging/data/DisplayPort, a 3.5mm headphone jack, and a MicroSD card slot. We’re glad to see that HP has gone for a sensible mix of ports here, which allow for people to use modern standards and maintain compatibility with most peripherals they will already own.

The HP Chromebook X360 12b will retail for US$359, while the Chromebook X360 14b will retail for US$379 directly from HP, though you might be able to find them elsewhere for cheaper.

Source: HP specification material via About Chromebooks

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I started tinkering around with notebooks years ago. This included testing various Linux distributions for compatibility and opening them up to upgrade components, repaste heatsinks, or fix solder connections. While I appreciate the sleek designs and ultraportable advantages of sealed chassis with custom components, I lament the decline in user upgradeability and reparability over time.

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