My review of HP Chromebook 11A (Mediatek, 4GB RAM, 64 GB eMMC) after 10 days

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pachabhut

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My daughter was asking for a new tablet for sometime. She had a Windows 2-in-1 purchased in 2017 but with 2 GB RAM, it has now become too slow and does not support many apps, so mostly gathering dust. I was thinking of getting an android tab but then thought of a Chromebook. The HP 11A was available effectively at 15,140 in Amazon during prime day sale, after 1750 discount on regular ICICI card plus 100 cashback for coupon. Thought at that price, it’s a good buy. Delivery came next day and in double pack, first with original HP packing, then with additional Amazon packing over it.

The Chrome OS initially did not detect any update but then updated itself, after I left it connected to wifi for about 3 hrs. Installing android apps is easy through Google play store but initially had some problem setting up Linux. So had to install and then remove again. But after OS update, Linux installed without any issue. Linux version is Debian 11 (bullseye), arm64. Setting up Linux would require some initial knowledge of CLI terminal, but can be googled or seen from youtube. After installing Linux, installed software center, GIMP and Libreoffice in it via command line. Was also able to install several other Linux apps by downloading the Debian package and then installing through software center. Once installed, Linux apps work just as any other installed apps, though sometimes take 3-4 seconds for initial launch. But for some reason, Wine did not function, so no windows app. The Chrome browser works in full desktop mode. Google classroom and Webex meetings works perfectly. Even installed Nomachine on Linux and now able to access my Ubuntu Cloud PC on Oracle cloud. Spotify (for my daughter) also works fine. External mouse/keyboard also works fine.

Initially, it had about 42 GB of free space of which 10 GB had to be given to Linux. Considering the limited storage, files would have to be stored to either Google drive or other online storage. Comes with 1 year free 100 GB google drive space, but since I already have google one shared with the family, this was wasted.

It has one USB-C, one USB-A, headphone jack and one micro-SD slot. My exiting USB-C extension bay works without problem. Connected one external 240 GB SSD and it detected immediately. Battery backup is good, about 8-12 hrs, depending upon use. USB-C charger and can be even charged with high wattage mobile chargers. But display is not so crisp, considering the price, that is normal I guess. Keys have good feeling but not backlit. Trackpad is reasonably responsive, but touchscreen is not so responsive at times. Weight without charger is about 1 Kg. Boots and switches off in few seconds, through can be left without turning off.

With both android apps and Linux apps (particularly Libreoffice) installed, can be a very effective replacement for normal computing requirements, media consumption, online classes and office work, particularly while travelling, but only if one is able to utilize the Linux features. With Linux activated, its definitely better than any Android tablet. Had some doubts about the MediaTek processor, but it performs well.

My daughter is mainly using it for last 10 days. She is happy as it can manage all her online school (google classroom) requirements. While its mainly used by her for now, it is also capable of taking care of my needs as a work laptop. May be its time to give Chrome OS a thought as the primary device.
 
Tejas01

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For a 15k tag, it is definitely a good buy. The only issue would be using CLI, especially if a person is used to Windows ecosystem and if he/she is aged. Another issue crops up is limited space and the need for an external HDD for other requirements.
Nevertheless, I do feel that Linux system is necessary to keep the price tag low (Thank you, MS!!). Don't see this as an issue with regular CKI users.
 
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pachabhut

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@Tejas01
External SSD was used only for watching stored movies. Otherwise, file storage in Google drive (and Box) mostly takes care of the storage issue. CLI was needed only initially. Subsequent apps could be isntalled by downloading debian packages and using software center. And it is required only for Linux. So, for initial setup, some handholding can be done for aged persons.
 
Tejas01

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@pachabhut how has open office or libre office come along? I did use it back in 2010 and after that didn't get the opportunity to use it.
I was looking specifically for my aunt who is 54 and complaining about the weight of her Dell laptop weighing 2kgs. She mostly uses Google suite and she's comfortable using chromebook.
 
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pachabhut

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@Tejas01
I have been using openoffice and then libreoffice since 2009. Never really felt the need to go back to MS Office. And I guess, as someone who is nearing 50, I am more of her generation than yours.
 
Lolita_Magnum

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For a lot of people, it's usually due to the requirement by the office to use MS office. A lot of tech startups are pushing to use google docs too.
 


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pachabhut

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@Lolita_Magnum
Libreoffice can open MS Office Word/Excel/PPT files and also save in those formats without any issue. Some issues have been reported while handling Access files, but then, Access is rarely used for front end office work.
 
Lolita_Magnum

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Newer formats such as (xlsx, docx, pptx) are more prone to break a document if not worked exclusively on MS Office. If someone is using any Office version later than 2013 is using this format by default.
There have also been instances, where some formatting got completely ruined when editing via editing software other than Office.

I don't condone MS office nor their malpractices towards keeping things proprietary but it is what it is and in office environment people rather just shell out money for peace of mind than bother.
 
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pachabhut

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@Lolita_Magnum
As I indicated in earlier posts, I have not really used MS Office since 2009 and I have extensively worked with XLSX and DOCX files with libreoffice. Not faced any issue so far.
 

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