Saturday 20 December 2014

HP Z5000 Bluetooth Wireless Mouse Review

Although my HP Chromebook 14 has a fairly decent trackpad, I have always preferred an actual mouse, as I find I can be more accurate with them, particularly for things like image editing. So when it came to choosing one for my Chromebook I decided on a Bluetooth model since it wouldn't need a separate dongle which would use up one of the 3 USB ports. I have also read that the newest low powered Bluetooth 3.0 uses less power, therefore lasting longer.

I chose the HP Z5000 since it explicitly states on the Curry's website that it supports Chrome (and even Android), not that I imagine ChromeOS having trouble with most wireless mice. It doesn't specifically mention Chrome or Android support on HP's website.  Unlike the previous model Z4000, the Z5000 uses Bluetooth 3.0 rather than ordinary wireless.

The Z5000 is only available in white but it still looks nice against my pinkish coloured Chromebook.  It's quite a small notebook mouse but still reasonably comfortable in my hands. The scroll wheel is a little small too so it is worth adjusting speed settings.

The Z5000 only needs a single AAA battery (an Energizer battery is included) but hopefully it should last for a long time.

Underneath is an on/off switch to save power when not used. It took next-to-no time to pair with my Chromebook.

So far I have only had the occasionally odd random disconnect here and there, while most of the time it stays connected, even working straight away after my Chromebook resumes from suspend mode. Though I have only had it a short time, I would recommend this mouse if you do need to use a mouse occasionally for your Chromebook or indeed other notebooks.

Update - June 2015: The battery life became worse over time until I was replacing the batteries once a week and then the mouse stopped working completely.

Tuesday 9 December 2014

HP Stream 11 - A Windows notebook that's not a "Chromebook killer"

So this is Microsoft's answer to Chromebooks, low spec laptops and "Windows 8.1 with Bing" - as if the mere adding of default IE defaulted to Bing search is anything to boast about. I'm sure most sensible users will install either Chrome or Firefox browsers anyway. This is the HP Stream 11 and the build of it looks quite similar to my HP Chromebook 14 but actually feels cheaper in the flesh. It has an 11.6-inch 1366×768 display and 2GB RAM, much like many Chromebooks. It has 2.16 GHz dual-core Intel Celeron N2840 Bay Trail processor, which is somewhat slower than the Haswell CPUs of many Chromebooks.

Some articles have called it a "Chromebook killer" but I think that's far from the truth. Even with it's 32GB SSD, more than most Chromebooks, it only has 17.5GB of free space, which will soon fill up with the detritus from Windows updates and registry bloat, aswell as all those apps the user will install. Advanced users could remove the Windows Restore partition to recover 7.2GB of storage. The user could just install only a few apps or not install any extra apps at all, and just use web apps, but then that would defeat the purpose of getting a Windows laptop, might aswell have bought a Chromebook in the first place. And the hardware with just 2GB RAM is not going to be much fun with anything more than light office work either.

The advantage of a Chromebook is even with meagre hardware it is much quicker than Windows on the same or similar hardware.  And you won't have to worry about intrusive updates (and their many reboots), viruses/malware and there's no overhead of a bloated OS. Even if there is a problem, it takes minutes to wipe the entire OS and restore your Chrome extensions and data. Windows boots in around 30 seconds out the box on the Stream 11, but given time I'd wager that time will only get longer and longer, whereas my Chromebook 14 boots from cold to in use in just 7 seconds, and will stay that way. Not that I often boot mine from cold, I use it all the time, shut the lid and then open it again later and it's connected and working in a second. I actually find it more convenient than waiting for my Nexus 7 to wake up.  

Chromebooks have been a massive hit both in schools and in the consumer market, judging by their appearance in Amazon's best selling laptop list. It is going to take more than cheap hardware and Bing to kill Chromebooks. I would only really recommend buying a HP Stream 11 if you absolutely positively have to use a lightweight native Windows app for something that cannot be done on a Chromebook!

Sources: ZDNet, Arstechnica, Amazon, HP

Thursday 4 December 2014

iPearl mCover HP Chromebook 14 Hard Shell Case Review

Since I happen to have had a "Coral Peach" HP Chromebook 14 bought for me, I decided I needed to tone it down a bit and have the added bonus of protecting it's bodywork too with a shell case that I found on Amazon UK. It's available in 9 different shades including clear, but I bought the black version since black goes with anything. It also kind of reminded me of the Apple BlackBook.

Naturally it arrived in a huge box with plenty of packaging. There was no instructions but it's fairly easy to work out how it goes on, there are clips around the lid and a lip along the bottom edge on the hinge side.

The bottom piece of the shell fits in a similar way but with larger clips on the corners and grill holes for cooling. It also has a couple of handy pull-down lugs at the rear that raises the laptop up on stilts, useful for those who like to have the keyboard angled more towards them, and also presumably to aid cooling, both intake and exhaust fans are on the base of the Chromebook. It has four big rubber feet to keep the laptop firmly rooted to the spot.

So far I am quite pleased with it, it does the job just fine, keeping my Chromebook in pristine condition, and avoids covering it with greasy finger marks that it so readily attracts.

If only it covered the rest of the pink bits! (Oo-errr!)  

My next accessory purchase will hopefully be a decent Bluetooth mouse, this one in particular hopefully:

Update 13th February 2016:

I have just removed the bottom part of the case as I have lost one of the rubber feet, the glue must have tried out a bit and the HP feels better on my laptop without the plastic cover. The HP Bluetooth mouse I bought died within a month or two for no obvious reason.