This review is for the NON-touch screen 14-ca040nr. Reviews get lumped together, so it’s good to know which product you’re reading about.
I’m a semi-retired IT technician, so this review comes from that standpoint.
If you’re not familiar with the Chrome operating system you may want to do some independent research before purchasing a Chromebook. While they are designed around Cloud computing (with most data being saved in Google Docs rather than locally), it’s quite possible to work with the machine offline. You can specify in Google Docs that files should be available “offline”; a copy of the file is kept locally and syncs back to the Cloud when WiFi becomes available.
Google Docs (word processor, spreadsheet, presentation software) all come with your Gmail account and is the “base” set of applications used by most folks on a Chromebook.
I’ve enabled Linux on the HP, and installed LibreOffice – primarily because there’s no database application in Google Docs and I do a bit of work in databases. Linux works very well on the HP for that purpose.
Linux also allows the installation of GIMP, which is a PhotoShop type image editor.
[EDIT 9/30/18 – I should note that Linux documents (such as you may create in LibreOffice) should be kept within the Linux folder structure. Keeping such files on an SD drive doesn’t work – Linux can’t “see” that drive. There may be a method to guide Linux to the proper folder. If I take time to figure that out I’ll update the review. In the interim, plan on using a bit of the 32gb of internal space for LibreOffice docs. The upside is that, of course, such documents are totally independent of the Cloud, just like they would be on a Windows machine).
I’ve enabled File System For Windows (another app) which allows me to contact to my Windows 10 Pro machine and transfer files to and from while on the same network. Chrome RDP allows me to take control of the Windows machine while on the same network and Chrome Remote Desktop allows access to the Windows machine from wherever there is an Internet connection (without direct file transfer – if you need to swap a file, just drop it into Google Drive).
If you’re a DropBox user, you can install File System for DropBox on the Chromebook.
Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote, OneDrive, Outlook, etc. are all available from the Microsoft web applications. Microsoft Access is not available on the web apps. There are also Android apps for Microsoft (which I don’t use, I use the web apps). If you have encrypted Word or Excel files the M/S web apps can’t open them. You can install the (free) WPS office suite and it can open password locked Microsoft documents just fine. If you enable Linux, LibreOffice can also open encrypted Microsoft documents.
Splashtop for Business works using their web app, and from that I can log into remote Windows machines (including Windows Server 12r2).
As you can see, quite a bit of work can be done using a Chromebook – it all depends upon your needs and the setup.
The HP has a decent, but not great, keyboard. Battery life is excellent. Be advised – there’s no dedicated “delete” key or “caps lock” key. You can remap the “search” key to emulate a “caps lock” key but that affects cursor movement if you’re working in Google Docs. If you haven’t used a Chromebook before, Google for how the keyboard works. Takes a little getting used to, but it’s doable.
There’s a micro-SD card slot (I’m using a 32gb card, but it will accept larger cards if need be). Remember that, while Chromebooks are fairly secure, the card is not encrypted by default. There are encryption apps available for locking down the SD card.
The screen (the non-touch version) is O.K.; it doesn’t come close to the Pixel screen but it costs only 1/4 as much as a Pixel.
The charger (included) plugs into either of two USB C ports – one on each side of the machine. The machine also offers two USB A ports.
The touch-pad is good – it doesn’t get in the way when typing. However the “mouse clicks” on the pad are ‘way too hard and loud. In a library setting it would become annoying very quickly. Better to use the ‘double tap’ on the touch-pad rather than click the corners.