Living with Chromebook: One Loss, One Win (Premium)

As you may have seen, I figured out why my Intel NUC wasn’t working with the OWC Thunderbolt 3 Dock over the past weekend. This was a big win for me, as it makes my desktop setup more portable in the sense that I can now easily replace the NUC with other computers without having to swap a lot of cables around.  

But then I found something unexpected: Neither of the two Chromebooks I tested with the dock would work. Yes, the dock would charge the Chromebooks. But they couldn’t access any of the peripherals connected to the dock.  

Ten seconds of Google research later, I discovered the cause: Chrome OS is literally not compatible with Thunderbolt 3. There are some theories about this tied to the underlying Linux kernel, but no matter: If it doesn’t work, it doesn’t work. I figured it would at least act like a USB-C dock, but no. And that complicates my plans to use a Chromebook at my desk.  

I’ll revisit that later, I guess. In the meantime, I’ve continued to use the two Chromebooks---an Acer Chromebook 714 and an HP Chromebook x360 14---as the laptop and convertible, respectively, that they are. But both of these devices are, by Chromebook standards, at least, fairly high-end computers and are somewhat pricey. So I also brought a low-end Chromebook, an HP Chromebook 14, online today to see what a more pedestrian Chrome experience is like. 

The Chromebook 14 costs just $220 right now if you buy direct from HP, though the normal price is a still very reasonable $270. Say what you will about my contention that there is no such thing as a decent Windows PC for under $500. But surely everyone reading this agrees that there is no such thing as a decent Windows PC at this price level. I mean, come on. 

It’s powered by a dual-core AMD A4-9120C processor running at 1.6 GHz, 4 GB of RAM, and 32 GB of eMMC storage, a 14-inch 1366 x 768 HD display, dual-band 802.11acn Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth 4.2. It has two USB-C ports---both support charging, power delivery, video, and data)---two USB 2.0 ports, and a microSD media card reader. The webcam is described as an HP TrueVision HD Camera with integrated dual array digital microphone, and there are dual speakers. 

I’ve been using this low-end device to type this article in Word Online, and the performance is excellent while doing so, though it dogged a bit just bringing up the document in the first place; I opened it using that Office browser extension. The keys are plastic and unexceptional, and not backlit as far as I can tell. But the darned thing works. And the display, curiously, is fine for my needs.  


Even more impressive, of course, is the process of bringing a new Chromebook online: After a quick first boot and a simple wizard in which you sign-in to your Google account and OK a few options, you’re presented with the Chrome OS desktop and all of your pinned web apps, synced from any previous installs. It's a thing of beauty and t...

Gain unlimited access to Premium articles.

With technology shaping our everyday lives, how could we not dig deeper?

Thurrott Premium delivers an honest and thorough perspective about the technologies we use and rely on everyday. Discover deeper content as a Premium member.

Tagged with

Share post

Please check our Community Guidelines before commenting

Windows Intelligence In Your Inbox

Sign up for our new free newsletter to get three time-saving tips each Friday

"*" indicates required fields

This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Thurrott © 2024 Thurrott LLC