HP Chromebook x360 12b review

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HP Chromebook x360 12b review is a student-friendly laptop that says, “Oh, you thought I was just a laptop? Boom! Now I’m a tablet!” The shape-shifting stunner (reviewed at $360) can transform into tablet mode, tent mode and media mode while your classmates drool with envy.

The convertible Chromebook’s ceramic-and-silver chassis will stand out of the crowd with its unique 12-inch display. If you purchase the accompanying stylus (which I highly recommend), the pen adds a new layer of fun with its ability to scribble quick notes that can be saved on Google Keep. The Chromebook’s impressive top-firing speakers will soothe your ears as you listen to your favorite tunes.

On the other hand, The HP Chromebook x360 12b has middling battery life. It will certainly last you a full school day, but we expected a longer runtime from a Chromebook. The low-resolution display wasn’t great, either. But if you’re a student seeking easy access to your favorite Google applications while sporting an envy-inducing convertible that you can show off in the classroom, the HP Chromebook x360 12b is a decent pick.

The HP Chromebook x360 12b price and configuration options

Our HP Chromebook x360 12b review unit costs $360 and comes equipped with an Intel Celeron N4000 CPU, an Intel UHD Graphics 600 GPU, 4GB of RAM and 32GB of eMMC flash storage. You can add a sleek stylus to the total package for an extra $60.

HP Chromebook x360 12b design

The ceramic-and-silver HP Chromebook x360 12b, with its 360-degree hinge, boldly declares, “I’ve got several personalities in one body, but they’re all freakin’ awesome!” Carrying this versatile laptop on campus will attract intrigue-filled stares from curious strangers, especially as the versatile Chromebook shape-shifts into tablet mode. 

HP Chromebook x360 12b

(Image credit: Future)

Designed with an ivory lid, the Chromebook x360 12b shows off a reflective, center-positioned HP logo and a silver Chrome emblem on its top-left corner. Opening the laptop reveals a metal, silver-colored keyboard deck with large white keys.

The HP Chromebook x360 12b has ultrathin bezels, but a large bottom chin (which houses an HP logo) that would give Jay Leno a run for his money. On the top of the display, you’ll find an HD webcam.

HP Chromebook x360 12b

(Image credit: Future)

Weighing 2.9 pounds, the 10.7 x 8.5 x 0.7-inch Chromebook is pleasantly lightweight and portable. Its competitors — the Samsung Chromebook 4 (2.6 pounds, 11.3 x 8.0 x 0.7 inches) and the Lenovo Chromebook C330 (2.8 pounds, 11.4 x 8.5 x 0.8 inches) — are slightly lighter than the x360 12b, but not by much.

HP Chromebook x360 12b ports

The Chromebook x360 12b has a fair number of ports.

HP Chromebook x360 12b

(Image credit: Future)

On the left side of the laptop, you’ll find a headphone/microphone jack, a USB 3.1 Gen 1 Type-C port and a microSD card slot. On the right side, you’ll find another USB 3.1 Gen 1 Type C port, as well as a Kensington security slot and a USB 3.1 Gen 1 Type-A port

HP Chromebook x360 12b

(Image credit: Future)

Both USB Type-C ports have DisplayPort support, which is great for hooking up your Chromebook to monitors for presentations.

The HP Chromebook x360 12b display

At first, I couldn’t put my finger on it — the HP Chromebook x360 12b’s 12-inch, touch-screen display seemed out of the ordinary. But then it hit me; I realized that the display is taller than your typical laptop, which gives the screen a squarish appearance as opposed to the popular rectangular look.

HP Chromebook x360 12b

(Image credit: Future)

The Chromebook runs with a 3:2 aspect ratio instead of the usual 16:9, which I appreciated because it provided more screen real estate while I scrolled through my favorite websites. However, because most videos are recorded with a 16:9 aspect ratio, there will be some letterboxing during your viewing experience — you’ll be hard pressed to find screen-filling content.

The biggest drawback is the Chromebook’s low-resolution display, which has a 1366 x 912 resolution.  This won’t hinder your visual pleasures by any means, but don’t expect to see any high-definition close-ups on your favorite film and TV characters.

As I watched the new Black Widow trailer on YouTube, a shot of a verdant forest lacked detail and crispness. Scarlett Johansson’s pores and facial imperfections — perhaps to the actress’ delight — were muted and softened on the low-resolution screen. The colors were decent enough to capture the adventurous tone of the Black Widow film with bright-red laser sights beaming out of guns and eye-catching yellows from explosions.

At just 216 nits, brightness isn’t one of the HP Chromebook x360 12b’s strengths. It fell short of the average Chromebook’s brightness, which is 256 nits. On the bright side, the x360 12b beat the Samsung Chromebook 4 (210 nits), but unfortunately, it was outshone by the Lenovo Chromebook C330 (250 nits).

According to our colorimeter, the x360 12b’s panel covers 79% of the sRGB color gamut, making it more vibrant than the Samsung Chromebook 4 (64%) and the Lenovo Chromebook C330 (75%). The HP Chromebook x360 12b also crushed the category average of 76%.

The HP Chromebook x360 12b performance

HP Chromebook x360 12b

(Image credit: Future)

I tested the Chromebook’s mettle by inundating the laptop with 22 Google Chrome tabs, including three 1080p YouTube videos. I opened Google Docs to investigate the multitasking performance of the laptop’s Intel Celeron N4000 processor and 4GB of RAM; I expected a system slowdown, but to my surprise, the Chromebook remained responsive and stood strong in my attempts to push it to the limit.

On the Geekbench 4 overall-performance benchmark, the HP Chromebook x360 12b scored 3,400 and bested the Lenovo Chromebook C330’s score of 2,934 (MediaTek MT8173C CPU, 4GB of RAM). The Samsung Chromebook 4 (Intel Celeron Processor N4000, 4GB of RAM), though, defeated the HP Chromebook x360 12b with a score of 3,611. However, all three Chromebooks fell short of the category average score of 6,227.

Sure, you can plug away at Google Docs for school on this laptop, but the Chromebook also allows you to have a little light gaming fun, too. I took Asphalt 8 for a spin, and as I watched a red car do barrel rolls through the air in the virtual world of Tokyo, the HP Chromebook x360 12b provided playable frame rates that would please users seeking a temporary escape from work.

HP Chromebook x360 12b keyboard, pen and touchpad

The HP Chromebook x360 12b’s island-style keyboard was perfectly fine. I typed away rhythmically without bottoming out. I hit 83 words per minute on the 10FastFingers.com test, which is not far from my 80 wpm average.

Now, let’s talk about the fun part — the pen. The stylus doesn’t accompany the HP Chromebook x360 12b out of the box, but if you want to add a layer of fun to this convertible laptop, I strongly recommend purchasing it. The Chromebook features a taskbar with a little pen icon users can click, which offers easy access to quick note-taking that can be saved to Google Keep and other drawing apps.

HP Chromebook x360 12b

(Image credit: Future)
I noticed smooth, responsive input as I wrote notes on the HP Chromebook x360 12b. The characters thickened into big and bold letters when I used wide, sweeping strokes on the display. And when I wrote normally — as I would on pen and paper — the pen stroke thinned nicely and mirrored the width of my everyday handwriting. 

The silver pen itself isn’t the most ergonomic; its cylindrical shape is interrupted by a flat magnetized strip that may be irksome during long-term note-taking. You can store the pen on the Chromebook’s magnetic dock found on the left side of the device, but be careful not to bring the pen too close to the screen or it will throw off the display’s sensors and the screen will go haywire (e.g., the display goes into sleep mode). In tablet mode, you can store the magnetic pen anywhere on the left or right edge of the screen, which is pretty awesome.

HP Chromebook x360 12b

(Image credit: Future)

You can power up your pen using the same charger you’ll use to rejuice your laptop. There’s no low-battery indicator on the pen, but you’ll know when it’s time to recharge because you’ll start to notice some lagging.

The touchpad, which has multitouch gesture support, is acceptable; the bottom corners delivered satisfying right-and-left-click feedback. However, the touchpad lacked the “grippiness” that makes navigating to a target position less effortful. 

HP Chromebook x360 12b

(Image credit: Future)

About 80% of the time, I found myself ditching the touchpad in favor of the pen. The stylus is excellent for precision clicking; for example, when a pesky ad window appears, the pointy tip of the pen allows you to click on the X — right on target — and quickly escape from maddening pop-ups. You can use your finger as well, but why sully the screen with your fingerprints?

To be clear, the touchpad is fine; two-finger scrolling made zipping through websites a breeze. However, the surface could stand to be a bit more sensitive for better cursor navigation.

HP Chromebook x360 12b audio

The HP Chromebook x360’s top-firing dual speakers, which lie between the display’s chin and the keyboard’s function keys, will have you dancing like nobody’s watching as you listen to your favorite Spotify tunes.

Listening to Dua Lipa’s Don’t Start Now, the pop star’s vocals filled the room and hugged my ears with the song’s disco-esque beats. At maximum volume, the amplification is perfect; it’s not too loud, it’s not too quiet — it’s just right. I was pleasantly surprised and impressed by the well-balanced, crisp and clear audio flowing out of this economical laptop.

If you want the most optimal audio experience, avoid converting your laptop into media mode; the speakers will sit on the surface and the sound will fire downward. 

The HP Chromebook x360 12b lasted a modest 8 hours and 6 minutes on the Laptop Mag Battery test (continuous web surfing over Wi-Fi at 150 nits), which will give you a full day at work or school. But you’ll be rushing to resuscitate your laptop during your commute back home.

The x360 12b falls short of the average Chromebook’s battery runtime, which is 10 hours and 5 minutes. Its competitors, the Samsung Chromebook 4 (10:36) and the Lenovo Chromebook C330 (9:51), surpassed the HP Chromebook x360 12’s battery life by almost 2 hours.

HP Chromebook x360 12b battery life

The HP Chromebook x360 12b lasted a modest 8 hours and 6 minutes on the Laptop Mag Battery test (continuous web surfing over Wi-Fi at 150 nits), which will give you a full day at work or school. But you’ll be rushing to resuscitate your laptop during your commute back home.

HP Chromebook x360 12b

(Image credit: Future)

The x360 12b falls short of the average Chromebook’s battery runtime, which is 10 hours and 5 minutes. Its competitors, the Samsung Chromebook 4 (10:36) and the Lenovo Chromebook C330 (9:51), surpassed the HP Chromebook x360 12’s battery life by almost 2 hours.

The HP Chromebook x360 12b webcam

The image quality of this Chromebook’s HD camera is less than impressive, which is exactly what I was expecting since many laptop webcams are abysmal. There is an abundance of digital noise and the color accuracy isn’t the best.

HP Chromebook x360 12b

(Image credit: Future)

Although I was sitting in a brightly lit room, at some angles, my blue-and-gray striped top looked black. We strongly recommend an external webcam if you plan on using the HP Chromebook x360 12b for video conferencing.

HP Chromebook x360 12b heat

You won’t have to worry about the Chromebook x360 12b overheating on you; the laptop remained cool after we streamed 15 minutes of HD video on the device. The Chromebook’s touchpad (80 degrees Fahrenheit), keyboard (85 degrees) and underside (85 degrees) hovered way below our 95-degree comfort threshold. The hottest location of the Chromebook, the bottom panel, reached only 92 degrees.

The HP Chromebook x360 12b software and warranty

The HP Chromebook x360, powered by Chrome OS, can run Android apps downloaded from the Google Play store. The bottom taskbar on the home screen will provide users with easy access to Google favorites, such as Chrome, Docs, YouTube, Gmail and Spotify.

HP Chromebook x360 12b

(Image credit: Future)

If you’ve purchased the highly recommended pen, you can open up the stylus menu. In addition to providing note-taking options, this menu offers access to a magnifying glass feature, which zooms in on the part of the screen your stylus is touching. You can also use the laser pointer feature — a perfect option for slideshow presenters who, for example, want to direct their audience’s eyes to a targeted area.

HP ships the Chromebook x360 12b with a limited one-year warranty. See how the company fared in our Tech Support Showdown and Best and Worst Brands ranking.

HP Chromebook x360 12b review

Bottom line

Would I recommend the HP Chromebook x360 12b? Yes, but it depends on who you are and what needs you have. 

This Chromebook is great for school and work presentations as you can connect it to a monitor using one of its DisplayPort-enabled USB Type-C ports. If you throw in that $60 stylus, you can spice up your A-plus presentation by using the pen laser pointer feature and magnifying glass option. 

However, the battery runtime falls short of its competitors. The Samsung Chromebook 4 lasts nearly 2 hours longer than the HP Chromebook x360 12b, but if you opt for the Samsung Chromebook 4 instead, you’ll have to sacrifice the x360 12b’s touch-screen display and ultrathin bezels.

Overall, I’d recommend the HP Chromebook x360 12b for productivity-minded students who want to impress their friends and professors with a versatile laptop that’s excellent for both work and play.

HP Chromebook x360 12b review

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