Once upon a time — two years ago — the land of enterprise Chromebooks was a sparse category where prices ran rampant as manufacturers went spec-crazy. Enterprise Chromebooks didn't have to be sexy or sleek; they just had to be sensible. In 2020's pandemic-fueled push to work from home, Chromebooks have become a hot commodity, and companies like Acer, HP, and Lenovo literally cannot get business-oriented Chromebooks out the door fast enough.
HP debuted three new Chromebooks this summer, and of the three, the Pro c640 might seem like the best balance of value and power. That said, appearances can be deceiving. While the c640 had the powers and features to get your work done, it's almost impossible to recommend due to the comically critical flaws that you just can't justify at these inflated prices.
A pale competitor
Bottom line: The Pro c640 has powerful options, but even once you upgrade to a beefy processor and touchscreen, the screen still feels inferior, and the webcam is worthless. This is a laptop made for a bygone era when Enterprise Chromebooks were harder to come by, and pricing was not as competitive.
- Beefy configuration options
- Fingerprint scanner
- Ample ports
- Horrendous webcam
- Poor screen
Let's get the good news out of the way first, since it won't take long: the c640 is powerful enough to run a Google Meet call alongside a dozen tabs of notes and distractions, the battery usually got me through a full workday, and there are all the ports you'd want available here. The expanding USB-A ports allow you to get a slim profile while still having the legacy ports you need.
There's even an option to have a fingerprint scanner so that you don't have to put your password in every time. It's only really useful for signing in quicker throughout the day since there are not many Chromebook services that can use biometrics yet, but it's handy if you wake up your laptop 8-20 times a day.
But the screen and the camera are an embarrassment. Granted, screens have been a weak spot for HP's Chromebooks for years, but the combination of the matte finish on the C640's screen, the raised bezels around the screen, and the 250 nit brightness all conspire to make the screen on the C640 feel old and outdated. 250 nits isn't terrible but isn't as bright as competitors like the Acer Chromebook Spin 713 or Google Pixelbook Go, which both offer more powerful configurations for less money.
There are also non-touchscreen and non-FHD screen options, which further sully the screen, but let's be real; anyone with sense will spend the $75 on the 1080p touchscreen upgrade.
The next major issue is something that wouldn't have been a big deal a year ago but is a deal-breaker today: the webcam. As remote work and video conferences become the norm rather than the exception, having a good camera in your Chromebook is essential. Despite the claims HP made for a wider angle and improved quality, the Webcam here is noticeably worse than every other Chromebook I've touched in the last two years. Any hint of a shadowy corner becomes a torrent of noise, and overall video quality is distractingly poor, both on my own screen and on my coworkers' screens. I swapped from this $800 review unit to a $280 Acer Spin 311, and my colleagues said it was a marked improvement.
If you're looking for a business-worthy Chromebook, you're better off getting the Acer Chromebook Spin 713 or the ASUS Chromebook Flip C436. Acer sells an Enterprise version of the Spin 713 if having the Enterprise Upgrade included is that important to your company, and the Lenovo ThinkPad C13 Yoga Chromebook Enterprise is looking just as port-packed, durable, and powerful. Lenovo has also delivered more consistent screen quality and webcam quality.
If you're a die-hard HP fan — or that's just who your company orders from — look instead to the HP Chromebook x360 14c or the HP Elite 1030. The 1030 is more expensive but offers a better quality screen, higher durability, and a physical kill switch for your web came for privacy. Oh, and it's also a 2-in-1 with USI compatibility for signing documents, sketching, and superfine input.
A better HP option
The perfect laptop for work or fun
From the premium finishes to the hardware and software focus on privacy, to the performance and specs, HP built the x360 14c thing to work. However, the beautiful screen and Bang & Olufsen speakers mean it's perfect for play as well.
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