HP Chromebook 14 hands-on: AMD's first dance with Chrome OS

It comes with integrated Radeon graphics.

HP dropped a ton of news late last year -- like a laptop crafted from leather and a slew of updates to its premium Spectre line. So it's no surprise that the company doesn't have much to unveil at CES 2019. But that doesn't mean it has nothing intriguing to share. HP is launching the "world's first AMD Chromebook" with integrated Radeon graphics, and it costs just $269.

A big part of the reason for the low price is the AMD processor -- which are typically cheaper than their Intel alternatives. The HP Chromebook 14 uses a dual-core AMD Stony Ridge A4 or A6 CPU with integrated Radeon graphics, and it chugged along smoothly as I pulled up multiple websites during my brief hands-on. Unfortunately, I didn't get to load any graphics-intensive games or websites to see if the Radeon GPU makes a difference here, and frankly you probably won't be running anything too taxing on a Chromebook.

A sub-$300 Chromebook isn't unique -- most of the early Chromebooks cost about $250 or so. But because HP presumably saved some money with an AMD chipset rather than an Intel one, it was able to squeeze in some bonuses. The Chromebook 14 comes with dual speakers tuned by Bang & Olufsen for crisp audio, as well as a battery that the company says should last up to nine hours.

Aside from its AMD chipset with Radeon graphics, the Chromebook 14's other unique feature is a resin finish that's supposed to help the device better resist scratches and bumps . I didn't throw it around to test that claim, but the sandpapery exterior certainly felt hardy when I played with it. The Ink Blue version I saw is quite attractive, though the laptop is also available in gray and white, if you prefer something more conservative. Since it uses a fanless design, HP was able to keep the Chromebook 14's profile to a slim 18.35mm, but the laptop still felt slightly chunky compared to the latest Chromebooks. Those tend to cost slightly more, though.

The new HP Chromebook has 3 display options -- Full HD touch and HD touch or nontouch. The unit we saw was the full HD model, and it was responsive and easy to read. It's not the brightest or most vibrant screen I've seen, even for a Chromebook, but hey, it's only $270. I'm not going to complain.

You can get the Chromebook 14 for that low starting price, though expect upgrade options like a sharper touchscreen or faster processor to bring the cost up. HP, like the rest of the industry, is expanding its portfolio of Chrome OS devices, and having an AMD option makes Chromebook configurations much more similar to PCs. The company also announced the new enterprise-friendly Chromebook x360 14 G1, which adds security features like verified boot, application sandboxing and a Chrome Enterprise license. Perhaps in 2019, it's time to take Chromebooks even more seriously.