As the world continues to adapt to remote schooling and work, HP just announced a device designed to disrupt an area that will create a solution for many consumers and enterprise users. Today, I am sharing my take on the world’s first HP Chromebase all-in-one rotating screen desktop, the first Chromebase AiO to have a rotating display.
This PC, officially known as the HP Chromebase 21.5-inch All-in-One Desktop, features some of the lighter-duty Intel Core i3 processors meant for appropriately delicate tasks like drafting documents, spreadsheets, Zoom, and other video software along with the occasional mobile games or movies in either landscape or portrait mode along with the swivel of the screen and the stand that tilts back up to 20°.
Mostly any device these days is seemingly meant for various uses within a school environment, work, or a smart home; this device comes with an integrated 5-megapixel webcam and built-in microphone that can be turned off or on with the ease of use from a manual privacy switch on the device itself which makes things much more manageable.
Chromebooks seem to have been in what I feel is an iterate phase with only minor changes, and over time ChromeOS has more and slightly better products, but like Apple, not many of the devices are blowing us away with any new features. But, today, that’s changed.
Let’s dive in and learn more about this disruptive device.
Features and Display
The first and most excellent feature about this device, or at least to me, was the 90-degree rotating display of the 21.5-inch Full-HD 1080p touch-screen display. The ease of use of the swivel makes this device instantly stand out from landscape to portrait mode; additionally, the device tilts 20 degrees for better viewing angles. The beautiful screen from HP datasheet and marketing mentioned it’s an anti-glare 250 knit display, but to be honest, it didn’t seem to have that capability but perhaps other screens that will be implemented in the future for this device.
The ability to move from landscape to a portrait with such ease was indeed a great feature by HP, but unfortunately, I was hoping the company would have implemented a ‘tablet mode’ despite it being a desktop monitor or at least given the option. It still acted as a desktop in any position it was in, giving it more of a giant phone feel when playing android games on the device, but it wasn’t enough for me to stray away from it. I understand that most consumers and enterprise users will rarely use this device apart from their keyboard and mouse, but an option for tablet mode would have been a game-changer. The solid and colorful display, along with the adjustable Y-axis from the pivoting hinge, gave this device a multi-function to keep things easy on not just my neck but the ability to move it around and use additional monitors along with it.
HP has put much thought into the design to stand out with its unique features compared to their competitors like Acer and Lenovo, and it has set itself apart in its feature set. HP fits a 5-megapixel in its narrow bezel along with a slider that disables camera output and microphone or both. It’s handy for a device that will likely be used for video calls regularly, which I tested out and the amount of sound and clarity with the speakers and microphone was clear. Additionally, the microphone does enable Google Assistant.
The 16:9 landscape but becomes awkwardly tall and long in portrait mode. I feel the portrait mode will most likely be used as a secondary display rather than a primary one, but still handy. Looking in the back blow the display, and you’ll find another unique form factor—a cone-shaped display that houses the speakers, processor, hard drive, and RAM wrapped in a modern and straightforward fabric design like a Google Nest device. The design is simplistic, and given the contemporary gray touch, it will surely fit in most home decors. As you move further down the cone to the base, there are 2x USB-A and 2x USB-C ports paired with a headphone/microphone input along with a volume and power control button for the 90W AC adapter. The speakers are 5W dual HP Chromebase 22 that sounded much better than I had anticipated on a device like this. You won’t get a loud boom or any crazy bass, but they are still full, loud and give your money’s worth in a great audio experience in this Chrome OS device. Great audio to go along with the crisp screen, win-win.
The Chromebase all-in-one device comes with the 10th-gen Core i3 or dual-core Pentium Gold processor and will have configurations that vary from 4GB to 8GB to 16GB of RAM that are interchangeable and 64GB of eMMC, SSD 128GB or upgradeable to 256GB of NVMe. The Chromebase I was given was 4GB with 128GB storage. All considered, this would perform well enough for a vast majority of users that want an all-in-one for the home or office. The processor may not be the fastest chip on the market, but the device handles more than enough to keep things fast, along with Wi-Fi 6 and Bluetooth 5.
Additionally, a neat feature that I am sure everyone could appreciate is the small lift from the device's base on any surface. If you were to spill water or any other kind of liquid near the device, then the device won't be ruined, maybe at the least stained by a beverage like coffee. I feel that was smart on HP, and not placing any critical electronics near the bottom of the unit will alleviate some of that.
It came paired with the HP 910 keyboard and mouse and using it for the first time, and it was overall surprisingly two great peripherals that both came in a sleek snowflake white color that paired up quickly with the Bluetooth 5 white Bluetooth keyboard and mouse that pair up fast and are pleasant to use. The keys are pretty to the touch, and the travel and the compact design works well together. Overall, it is comfortable to use, and I hope HP will sell these separately, given that they are certified Chromebase compatible devices. Additionally, if you do not care to use the keyboard and mouse the machine came with, you can use any other Bluetooth-compatible device with the Chromebase.
Gaming and Changes
Despite the device not having a 'tablet mode,' I wanted to give it a chance at games, and I was pleased with what I had to experience. Nintendo tends to do an excellent job with x86 compatible games, so I chose to test out Super Mario Bros Run first, and it was just as smooth as ever. Given the device's touchscreen, it gives it a more immersed feel than using a phone or tablet, and it looked great. Games aren't the only thing that you could benefit from a screen like this. Reading web content in vertical format is just more pleasing, and I feel most can agree on that. This screen does an outstanding job giving you a palette to view web content and if you don't like it, then flip it, and you're back to a standard horizontal screen. Long story short, the ability to flip back and forth, I feel, will be beneficial for many users that make it a significant differentiator that it brings to the table to HP's competitors. Again, the screen does adjust forward and backward 20-degrees, win-win.
This device is supposed to be a less expensive method of receiving all the necessities that a student or worker could use—having the ability to have a keyboard, mouse, 5-megapixel camera, and microphone, which all cost together easily over $500 within itself for good quality products. This device does give you all of that and more, but there are a few things I would like to see changed in future models that I would have wanted to be seen integrated into this all-in-one device. Firstly, as I have mentioned multiple times already, a tablet mode is in portrait mode. Next, given that the device comes with 4GB RAM seems too small. To be able to do the amount of work that most students and enterprise workers need requires at least 8GB, and that's usually enough.
Spreadsheets, multiple documents, multiple tabs open in your browser while in Zoom or Microsoft Teams would cause this device to be prolonged. I am not sure why HP decided on 4GB other than marketing to release a new generation of the device soon. I decided to test out this theory, and it turned out I was right. The small amount of RAM was not surprising when it bottlenecked the system to cause Netflix to lose its placement and refresh the background and tabs. 4GB is passable on a tablet, but I expected better for an all-in-one device with a large screen meant to multitask. Not everyone can afford additional RAM for their products, and I am talking about students primarily in this case.
Additionally, I feel the bezels were a good enough size to possibly add some additional touch screen mechanics to allow a more uncomplicated method to pull up software, may it have been Microsoft Teams, Android application, volume button, or perhaps ambient lighting for this all-in-one in comparison to the Poly P21. Or, at minimum, add in a biometric authentication on the Chromebase AiO, other than requiring me to type in a password/PIN to log in each time.
HP has done a great job crafting this type of chassis to put this chrome base in, and they have done a great job creating some excellent peripherals that come in the box that work very well and are enjoyable to use. As a viewing experience, it’s a beautiful first product from HP, and I feel that HP has put together an all-around solid product in a very non-crowded space. A nice touch on HP’s part for adding in the swivel mechanism twist, clear and unmuffled speakers, modern aesthetic with enough input methods, and the ability to add more yourself.
This device would be great for students, consumers, and enterprise users, and I could imagine a device like this being used in schools, offices, kiosk environments like shopping malls, and it’s not like we have a bunch of great chrome bases to choose from. Most of them are outdated, and even when they were made, they were made with what felt like cheap parts, and they weren’t the best devices out there, I would know, I stayed clear away from many Chromebase products for years, but this all-in-one device has been a game-changer, and my mind has been changed for the better. This device feels thoughtfully made and put together to let consumers and enterprise users know that HP is looking to segment in this type of ‘all-in-one’ market that’s been taking off as ChromeOS and Chromebooks continue to grow. It’s terrific seeing HP moving in this direction as the leader right now in Chromebook sales. The company is clearly looking to expand its portfolio, which is a good step in that direction.
Note: Moor Insights & Strategy writers and editors may have contributed to this article.