HP Elite c1030 Chromebook Enterprise First Impressions

Posted on December 3, 2020 by Paul Thurrott in Chrome OS, Chromebook with 4 Comments

The HP Elite c1030 is a modern take on an enterprise-class Chromebook convertible, and it can be had with Parallels Desktop for Windows app compatibility.

Here, I’ll focus mostly on the hardware, since I need some more time to properly evaluate Parallels Desktop. But I do have a few observations about this intriguing software solution as well, of course.

First, the basics: The HP Elite c1030 Chromebook Enterprise is, as its name suggests, a premium Chromebook aimed at business customers. Prices range from $999 to $1599, with 10th-generation Core i3, i5, and i7 processors, 8 or 16 GB of RAM, and 128 or 256 GB of SSD storage, depending on the configuration. All models support Wi-Fi 6, and there is optional Intel 4G LTE WWAN for cellular connectivity.

Even more exciting, the Elite c1030 ships with a 13.5-inch WUXGA+ display panel with a 3:2 aspect ratio and very small bezels that provide the device with a 90.1 percent screen-to-body ratio. Most models come with a 400 nit panel that should be more than adequate for indoor use, but there’s also an HP Sure View Reflect privacy display option that hits 1000 nits of brightness in the higher-end configurations. Very nice.

The Elite c1030 is also a convertible laptop, so it can be used in tent and tablet modes in addition to the more typical laptop mode, and it supports both multi-touch and active pens. (The review unit didn’t include a pen, unfortunately.)

The build quality is excellent, and the all-aluminum chassis should be both familiar and welcome to anyone who, like me, is a fan of this company’s premium PC products.

The keyboard is backlit and full-sized and seems to be of excellent quality, with a snappy key throw. The touchpad, too, is excellent. There’s a fingerprint reader for quicker and more secure sign-ins as well.

Expansion looks adequate: There’s a 3.5mm combo jack, a USB-C 3.1 port, and a nano lock slot on the left side, along with power and volume buttons.

And on the right, you’ll find a full-sized USB-A 3.1 port (with a little drop-down cover due to the device’s thinness, a second USB-C 3.1 port, and a microSD card slot.

I haven’t really tested either yet, but the Elite c1030 sports stereo speakers that were tuned by Bang & Olufsen, and the webcam is described as a wide-angle HD camera that should provide reasonable quality for web calls. There is a hardware privacy switch for the webcam on the left side of the device, which is a nice touch.

From a portability perspective, the Elite c1030 lands in a good place: It weighs 2.97 pounds and is just .66-inches deep at its thickest point. HP says that it can get up to 12 hours of battery life, and it can fast-charge to 90 percent in 90 minutes.

But you want to know about Parallels Desktop, of course. We all do.

In its current form, Parallels Desktop for Chrome OS doesn’t quite match the wide range of functionality that the far more mature Mac product offers. That is, you can’t run Windows applications from a virtual machine (VM) outside of the VM window and alongside native apps, at least not yet. Instead, there is a single window for the entire VM and the Windows desktop and apps that it contains.

But there are still some niceties. You can run the VM full screen by pressing a dedicated key in the function row, and when you do, the system pretty much just feels like a Windows PC (minus a few obvious Windows-specific keys on the keyboard). You can copy and paste between the two environments seamlessly, and can print from Windows apps to any printers configured in Chrome OS. You can share files between the two environments, using File Explorer in Windows and the Files app in Chrome OS. And the VM window will scale the contained desktop automatically as you resize it and move it around.

A big part of the appeal of Parallels Desktop is that organizations can easily manage the VMs that users access, and the required licenses, and all the user needs to do is launch an app. If the VM isn’t available locally yet, that first launch will bring it down from the cloud and get it up and running. The whole thing seems to work really well.

And the pricing isn’t bad: $69.95 per user per year.

More soon.

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