You’re in the market for a cheap Chromebook. Maybe you don’t want to spend a lot because you don’t know what you’re getting into. Or maybe you expect Chromebooks to be cheap. Or maybe you just want a very cheap laptop and came across the Hisense C11NB. You may be familiar with it already, as it’s popular among Chromebook newbies due to its super low price for a laptop.
Well, we wrote an in-depth review so you can get a good idea if it’s worth your cash or not. Currently, the market has this model hovering around $139. That’s pretty much the cheapest Chromebook laptop you can buy- brand new that is.
There are higher-spec models available for a cheaper price, however, they’re used models.
For the sake of this review, we’re reviewing the cheapest Chromebook you can buy that’s new. Unopened. Factory condition.
So, let’s get it on.
Here’s PlatypusPlatypus’s official review of the Hisense 11.6” C11NB Chromebook.
The Look and Feel
Upon unboxing, we noticed that this laptop is definitely a little heavier than other Chromebooks. We checked the specs and it weighs in at 2.6 pounds, which is about 0.2lbs heavier than your average Chromebook’s weight. Surprisingly, the 0.2lb difference is noticeable- believe it or not.
Next, we opened up the lid and gave the machine a quick look-through.
The lid itself is slightly patterned with almost a matte-like finish. The “Hisense” logo easily contrasts with the black background, along with the “Chrome” logo in the corner. The lid seems sturdy enough, as it was a crack to open. This may be because it’s still new.
The laptop comes with your standard 2 USB 2.0 ports, HDMI port, and audio jack. Nothing special. Placed in convenient locations as standard on Chromebooks.
The machine itself is easily identified as plastic. The construction seems like it wouldn’t handle bumps and drops too well. If you knock on the case, the edges seem hollow. So if you bump it on a corner, it may crack. Fingerprints were also an issue on the lid, but this is common for cheaper laptops with black lids.
Keyboard and Trackpad
The keyboard is your standard Chromebook keyboard. It has a few modifications apart from a traditional QWERTY Windows keyboard. If you don’t know the differences, it’s mainly that some keys were removed, such as the F1-F12 keys and the Caps Lock key. The arrow keys were also combined into a single key for Up/Down. We think Google wanted to make a keyboard that was minimalistic, and they’ve definitely accomplished it. It does take some getting used to, but it’s nothing to really complain about. In the case of the Hisense, the keyboard seemed spacey and had a nice response and feedback. The travel distance is small, as with most laptops. Overall, it was comfortable to type with as we entered our user details and linked our Google account.
Next, on the home screen, we tried out the trackpad. It seemed to have some issues clicking around the edges, but the center worked fine. It’s as if the outside is just padding around the actual “click zone” and you had to push a little harder for it to work. We didn’t particularly like that aspect, as if you’re browsing with your fingers laid back, you’ll have to reach forward to click. However, if you don’t want to use it, just plug a mouse using the USB port. Many of us here don’t use the trackpads on laptops anyway.
First Cold Boot
The machine booted in exactly 9.3 seconds from a cold boot. This is common for Chromebooks, as they boot extremely fast. We’ve seen some Chromebooks boot as fast as 4 seconds though, so it’s not the fastest.
The Hisense C11NB comes standard with an 11.6” screen and doesn’t offer it a larger size. This is common among lower-priced Chromebooks. A bigger screen means a bigger jump in price. We launched the Chrome Web Browser and went to YouTube. We tried watching a random video featured on the home page and amped it up to 720P. It loaded quickly and looked sharp. This model has a screen resolution of 1360×768, which is standard for Chromebooks in this price range. We then viewed some high-resolution images and they were sharp and crisp, until we tilted the screen…
The screen angle sucks. The C11NB doesn’t seem to be view-able unless you’re staring straight at eye level with only a upwards tilt. Basically, imagine the top of the laptop’s lid about 6 inches down from your eye level, if you were staring straight. At this level, it’s slightly opened more than 90 degrees. That’s the sweet spot. Any other tilting beyond that resulted in a blurry or faded image, and anything below that level resulted in the same thing. The Hisense doesn’t come with an IPS screen, so this is expected.
The C11NB is advertised to run 8.5 hours. Now, we didn’t literally sit in front of the screen for 8.5 hours to verify this claim. Instead, we thought of what a typical user would be doing on the machine and wanted to test that claim. We opened up a Google Doc, had a playlist running in another tab via YouTube on loop, and had Facebook and Twitter in 2 other tabs. This isn’t too much, yet isn’t too little. We left the machine running after a full charge from our other tests and checked in on it periodically. About 6 hours later, the battery was at 12%. We did set the screen to never dim and the machine to never sleep or hibernate. At this point, we concluded that the battery would give about 7h of use at moderate processing levels. Considering that YouTube was the only thing that required constant processing, we weren’t impressed. The other tabs were static and once they were loaded, they didn’t spike the CPU. Only YouTube would require more processing power due to the constantly looping playlist.
Getting Things Done
We tried doing a random list of stuff, such as typing a Google Doc, trying out Google Hangouts, and playing Angry Birds from the Chrome web store. All the tasks loaded quickly and efficiently, but you can get that with pretty much any Chromebook. The productivity level of Chromebooks in general is high, and this was no exception. The performance matched some of the higher end models. The webcam it comes with is decent, but has a slight delay and noticeable lag, as expected. The more expensive models have much higher performance and clarity in their webcams. If that matters to you, you may want to look for another model. The webcam on the Hisense isn’t for business meeting or constant use, either. It gets slow and the blurriness gets annoying fast.
Under the Hood
For other techies, we’ve included this small section for the C11NB’s specs:
It’s powered by an ARM Cortex-A17 CPU, running at 1.8GHz, and comes with 2GB of DDR3 RAM. The hard drive is an SSD drive with a 16GB capacity. We think this is just standard for many Chromebooks at this price, but the processor is a drawback. You can spend a little more and get an Intel Celeron processor along with Intel HD graphics. This machine has no special GPU. Getting an Intel processor will also make it a lot easier to run Linux, if you plan to get your familiar programs and applications.
Our Overall Rating of the Hisense C11NB
We think it’s a decent computer for the budgeted user. It’ll do your basic everyday tasks easily, but note that it runs Chrome OS. If you have no idea what that is, we wrote an article explaining why you may want to get a Chromebook. Chrome OS won’t be able do many of the things you’re used to on a Windows computer, but rather offers Google’s way of doing it. This laptop is good for a typical user who mainly just wants to browse the ‘net, play some light games, and get some work done. You can think of it like an over-glorified netbook. We definitely don’t recommend this for the power-user, due to the low-end CPU and GPU. Or if you want to play Minecraft, don’t get it. If you need a Chromebook and want to get use out it, we suggest going with a Samsung or ASUS. However, if you just want a cheap Chromebook to “play” with, this would be your perfect companion. It’s the cheapest Chromebook you can buy (new). It’s decently fast. And it’s perfect for getting things done. Just don’t drop it.