Mini-review: Hisense’s ARM Chromebook actually isn’t awful for $149 – Ars Technica

We’re getting new Chromebooks all over the price spectrum lately. We recently reviewed the brand-new Chromebook Pixel, which has hardware that’s well worth $1,000 even though that’s a lot to pay for a system running Chrome OS. Today we’re taking a closer look at one of the new $149 Chromebooks, which are cheaper than any Chrome OS laptop has been to date.

We weren’t really sure what to expect from Hisense’s $149 Chromebook. We’ve seen Hisense hardware before in the form of $99 and $149 Android tablets from a time when those things hadn’t become common. Those devices were OK, but they cut enough corners that we had trouble recommending them for people who could spend a little more. This Chromebook, on the other hand, is surprisingly good—it’s still budget hardware to be sure, but in many respects it’s pretty similar to the $199 to $299 Chromebooks that are already out there.

Look and feel

The Hisense Chromebook is all plastic, about like you’d expect. Both the top and bottom are covered in a matte textured material that looks pretty good, while the palmrest is a smooth matte plastic instead.

The port selection isn’t bad for the size or the price. There’s a USB 2.0 and an HDMI port on the left side and another USB port plus a microSD card reader on the right side. We’d have liked to have seen USB 3.0 instead of 2.0 and full-size SD rather than microSD, but with a Chromebook you’ll be using cloud storage more often than USB drives or SD cards.

The laptop doesn’t feel any cheaper than the Chromebooks you can get for $300-and-down. They’re all plastic, they’re all pretty light, they’re all a little bendy and creaky but not any more than you’d expect. The weakest point, as it usually is, is the 11.6-inch 1366×768 display. It’s a cheap TN panel with all of that screen technology’s typical shortcomings—shallow viewing angles, poor contrast, and sort of dulled colors.

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