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HP 14: review: what it’s like to use a $300 Windows laptop

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The year is 2023. The tireless quest to find a Windows laptop that isn’t a fiery pile of junk under $500 continues. I have long argued that anyone confined to that category should buy a Chromebook, but I understand that this recommendation has made so many people very angry. increase.

Today I’m going to start with the HP 14, a 14-inch silver laptop purchased from Amazon. $289It has an 11th generation Core i3 processor (an old chip, but that’s why it’s cheap. That’s how long it lasts), 4GB of RAM, and 256GB of storage. It’s almost as cheap as a Windows laptop. (HP’s suggested retail price for this model is $469.99, but you can get it for much less without much effort.) And to see if it’s a viable budget purchase In fact, I spent the day on the device from morning till night.

Spoiler alert: wasn’t it terrible? I mean, it wasn’t good. But I was pleasantly surprised that it worked.

How to rate and review products

First thing in the morning, I turned on the HP 14 and tried to load various programs (Chrome, Slack, Spotify, Steam, display calibrate, etc.) to use in my review tests. (I’m not going to switch to Edge, no matter how much Microsoft bullies me. Monsters.) I do all this because it turns out that the HP 14 went into S mode right out of the box. I couldn’t. Well, it wasn’t meant to fly. I turned it off immediately. The world didn’t end. The laptop continued working fine.

“HP,” proclaims the lid.

All that aside, I started my day with about 10 Chrome tabs and Slack open. A few things froze the first time I tried to do this, so I finally restarted my computer. This seemed to fix the problem it was having. Some things never change.

From that point on, I was impressed with how well the Core i3 handled my workload.It didn’t make sense when I really felt constrained or needed to avoid opening additional tabs to prevent slowdowns. fast, I want to be clear, I was able to do everything I needed to do with minimal fuss with my thumbs.

I made multiple video calls in Google Meet using the “HP TrueVision HD” camera on top of a Chrome tab and it actually ran without any stutters or slowdowns (this is the same as many other (Not a cheap laptop). Colleagues complained that the video feed was grainy and lacked detail, but there were no delays or interruptions.

The fans spun the first time I opened Chrome, but after that it was surprisingly quiet. They were certainly fussy at points, but far more polite than many premium laptop fans (*cough* Dell XPS).

Look at that! Don’t look at any of them every day.

Another thing I’ve noticed while working TRUE like a keyboard. It’s very bouncy with generous clicks and plenty of space.On the left side you’ll also find his HP’s own row of hotkeys for Page Up, Page Down, etc.there is teeth The plastic chassis is quite bent (as expected – for $289) and my typing pushed the keyboard down slightly, but it generally doesn’t bother me as much as some of you do. is not.

The deck has a nice metallic texture.

Honestly, the worst part of the experience was the scrolling. I have fairly small fingers, so I was still hitting the plastic when trying to quickly move down the page. Also, falling down is not the easiest or most comfortable thing in the world, so keep that in mind. , because you can’t open the lid with one hand and can be a bit stubborn with both hands).

The day was spoiled by connections.

At lunchtime, I took a short break to eat and watch for a few minutes. Inheritance. (I’m still catching up from last weekend, so don’t spoil it.) This episode looked pretty good on the 1920 x 1080 screen. I didn’t notice any colors turned off or faded. The brightness is a little dark, but it’s fine for indoor use. The big stumbling block to media consumption on this device was honestly the speakers. In order to hear everything accurately, I usually had to keep it at maximum volume. I wouldn’t use this device to make calls outdoors or in environments with a lot of background noise. You may find yourself having to lean forward.

Worked on some photos this afternoon (taken for this review). And do you see it – there’s an SD slot! Considering how many very expensive laptops I’ve reviewed in the last few months have no ports at all, I couldn’t be happier. And the device lasted him about six and a half hours on a single charge. Honestly, I need to take another look at the more expensive 14-inch laptops.

It’s not an Acer Swift, but I had no problem carrying it in my backpack.

But the night was the biggest surprise. I went over to my friend’s house and after thinking about what to do, I decided to play an old-fashioned game. Civilization VI could have ditched my HP 14 for something like Zephyrus, but I stayed true to my mission.loaded Civilization V Got on my test unit and gave it a try.

you know what? it actually ran. I turned the game down to the absolute lowest settings and got a steady 30 frames per second.Well it’s very good that we didn’t settle overwatch Because I don’t want to use this device in my title for any kind of action. But for a laid-back, low-stakes, turn-based game of building granaries, researching mining, trading whales, and occasionally wiping out cities, it worked well.

Well, I inevitably recommended buy this? If you can afford something with more storage, a brighter screen, a bigger touchpad and a better-built chassis, no. But you want Windows, and you want Windows for under $300 If so, here you go. This is a device that works flawlessly, has what looks like integrated graphics inside, and even has port selection that you don’t have to sneeze at. I’m going to use something else now.

Photo by Monica Chin/The Verge

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