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HP Jumps Into Business Chromebooks: Should Windows Be Worried?

Chromebooks are best known for being low-cost laptops for students and kids, but they're starting to make a push into the business sector. Dell came out swinging with a pair of Latitude business laptops earlier this year, marking the first devices in a partnership with Google to offer Chromebook versions of popular enterprise notebooks.

Now HP is getting in on the action with its own pair of business Chromebooks: The Chromebook Enterprise x360 14E G1 and Chromebook Enterprise 14A G5.

Both business laptops will be available in late October but HP has not yet announced pricing.

The Chromebook Enterprise x360 14E G1 and the Chromebook Enterprise 14A G5 were designed to be used with Chrome Enterprise, a program Google launched in 2017 that makes it easier for IT admins to deploy and manage a fleet of Chromebooks across an entire company. These HP notebooks come with the Chrome Enterprise upgrade included, but the service requires a subscription.

HP Chromebook Enterprise x360 14E G1 and Chromebook Enterprise 14A G5: Specs

 HP Chromebook Enterprise x360 14E G1HP Chromebook Enterprise 14A G5
Price (Availability)TBD (Late October)TBD (Late October)
ColorsSilverBlack
Display14 inches, 1080p14 inches, 1366 x 768 or 1080p
CPUIntel Pentium Gold 4415, 4416U or Core i3, Core i5, Core i7 (8th Gen)AMD A4-9120C, AMD A6-9120C
RAM16GB8GB
SSD32GB, 64GBup to 64GB
Ports2 USB-C, USB 3.1 (Type-A), headphone/mic2 USB Type-C, 2 USB 3.1 (Type-A), headphone/mic
Size12.8 x 8.9 x 0.6 inches13.3 x 8.9 x 0.7 inches
Weight3.7 pounds3.5 pounds

As you can see above, neither laptop lights-up the specs table. Regardless, we're intrigued by the Chromebook Enterprise x360 14E G1 given how similar it looks to HP's excellent EliteBook 850 G5 business notebook and because it can be outfitted with up to a Core i7-8650U CPU and 16GB of RAM.

Chromebook Enterprise x360 14E G1

With those components, the Chromebook Enterprise x360 14E G1 could be one of the most powerful laptops running Chrome OS on the market. If you don't need so much power, HP extends the laptop's CPU options all the way down to a Pentium Gold 4417U processor. 

We haven't seen the Chromebook Enterprise x360 14E G1 in person, but it looks like a premium notebook based on product images HP provided. The entire device is made out of aluminum, not the hard plastics we often see on Chromebooks, and the chassis is just 0.6 inches thick. As a 2-in-1, the Enterprise x360 14E G1 can flip into tent or tablet mode, making it easier for you to use Google Play apps with touch controls on its 14-inch, 1080p display. 

That panel is only rated for 250 nits of brightness, which is slightly below our preference. Other specs include integrated graphics and a maximum of just 64GB of storage, although most of your files will be saved in the cloud anyway. 

A couple of other highlights of the Enterprise x360 14E G1 include its two USB-C ports and USB 3.1 (Type-A input), along with a microSD card slot and headphone jack. HP also rates the Enterprise x360 14E G1's battery life at an ambitious 13 hours. 

Chromebook Enterprise 14A G5

It might not look as pretty as its aluminum sibling, but the new Chromebook Enterprise 14A G5 should be able to take a beating. This ruggedized laptop has undergone MIL-STD 810 and IP41 testing, so it should be able to withstand a drop and exposure to water (or maybe even an early morning coffee spill).

Also of interest are the Chromebook Enterprise 14A G5's AMD processors: the A4-9120C and A6-9220C. We don't often see Chromebooks running on AMD chips, so we're excited to put the 14A G5 through our benchmark testing, although we wouldn't place any bets on it given the other specs: a maximum of 8GB of RAM and only up to 64GB of storage. 

Because of its extra protection, the Enterprise 14A G5 is a tad bulkier than the 14E G1, at 0.7 inches thick. Still, at 3.4 pounds, this is quite a lightweight machine. 

HP offers a range of 14-inch panels on the Enterprise 14A G5 to choose from. Those sadly start with a 1366 x 768-pixel display with only 220 nits of brightness. We suggest doing your employees or colleagues a favor and upgrading to the 1080p panel.

HP doesn't expect the Chromebook Enterprise 14A G5 to last as long on a charge, with a battery life rating of 9 hours. That would be a decent runtime, but manufacturer's claims don't always line up with our own test results, which better simulate a real-world setting. 

Despite having underwhelming specs, the Chromebook Enterprise 14A G5 offers a good range of ports, which includes two USB-C inputs, two USB 3.1 ports, an SD card slot and a headphone jack.

Outlook

It's hard to say how good a value these models are until we know their price. But HP is at least giving companies a wide swath of configurations to choose from, starting with the low-end Enterprise 14A G5 with an AMD A4 CPU and 16GB of storage to the Enterprise x360 14E G5 with a Core i7 CPU and 64GB of storage. If HP can help Chromebooks get a foothold in the office, then Chrome OS, having already taken over the classroom, will put Windows under even more pressure.  

We'll have to get these laptops into our lab before we give them a definitive rating, but between the two, there seems to be something for everyone. 

Phillip Tracy is a senior writer at Tom's Guide and Laptop Mag, where he reviews laptops and covers the latest industry news. After graduating with a journalism degree from the University of Texas at Austin, Phillip became a tech reporter at the Daily Dot. There, he wrote reviews for a range of gadgets and covered everything from social media trends to cybersecurity. Prior to that, he wrote for RCR Wireless News and NewBay Media. When he's not tinkering with devices, you can find Phillip playing video games, reading, listening to indie music or watching soccer.