Chrome OS and the style won’t please everyone but this is a fantastic budget all-in-one PC
- Weird but practical design
- Good screen and excellent sound
- Decent mouse and keyboard
- CPU could be faster
- Screen height isn’t adjustable
The HP Chromebase 22-aa0000na shouldn’t work half as well as it does. It’s a touchscreen all-in-one PC with a dated specification running Chrome OS, and its 21.5in screen looks like it’s mounted on a traffic cone.
Yet the more time you spend with this curious Chrome OS desktop, the more it starts to make sense. It’s not only the best Chrome OS all-in-one – which is easy, given that there is so little competition – but a cracking budget AIO, full stop.
HP Chromebase 22-aa0000na review: What you need to know
This is what Google and its partners like to call a Chromebase: a desktop Chrome OS device with a built-in screen, aimed primarily at the office and education markets but that can also be used in the home.
This particular Chromebase has a 21.5in Full HD screen, a 10th generation Core i3-10110U processor, 8GB of RAM and a 256GB SSD, along with a pair of 5W speakers built into that conical stand. It’s not the first Chromebase – Acer and LG have had a crack in the past – but it’s the only one on the market right now.
HP Chromebase 22-aa0000na review: Price and competition
There’s not much competition on the Chromebase front but there are other all-in-one PCs. The 24in M1 Apple iMac is the champion of the sector but at £1,249 for the base model it’s significantly more expensive. At this level, the HP Chromebase’s main rivals are the Acer Aspire C24 Series (From £700) and Dell’s Inspiron 5000 AIO series. Both run Windows, have larger screens and start at around £620. Dell’s new Inspiron 24 series is also worth a look although, at the time of writing, we hadn’t yet had one in for testing.
Alternatively, if you’re after a big-screen Chrome OS device, you might want to check out the Acer Chromebook 317 (£299) or the Asus Chromebook CX1 (CX1700) (£249). Both are Chromebooks with HD or full HD 17in screens.
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HP Chromebase 22-aa0000na review: Design
While it takes a while to get past the HP Chromebase 22’s unconventional design, it’s actually quite practical. For one thing, it’s extremely robust, and the cone-shaped stand means it’s hard to push the unit around on the desk or knock it off-balance. The screen is held at a fixed height of 16.5cm from the surface of the desk, while the desk space needed is relatively meagre; the base of the stand is a circle roughly 17cm in diameter.
This doesn’t just leave you with more space on your desk but also gives the screen room to rotate through 90° into a portrait mode, which makes it handy for editing Google Docs documents or even browsing websites with a lot of scrolling, although – oddly and annoyingly – the mouse pointer doesn’t change orientation when you do this, so you have to get used to using it at a weird angle.
All the connectivity is located at the rear of the cone, where you’ll find a 3.5mm audio jack, two 5Gbits/sec USB-C ports and two 10Gbits/sec USB-A ports. The USB-C ports also support USB-PD for charging and DisplayPort 1.2. Meanwhile, you’ve got 2×2 MIMO Wi-Fi 6 and Bluetooth 5 for networking and wireless peripherals.
HP Chromebase 22-aa0000na review: Keyboard and touchpad
The bundled keyboard and mouse connect over Bluetooth. The mouse is a lightweight, ambidextrous effort with just the two buttons and scroll wheel and, while I’d like something with a more ergonomic feel, it’s perfectly usable. It’s also worth remembering that the Chromebase 22 has a touchscreen. I still find touchscreens slightly unnecessary on ChromeOS devices and particularly on a display this big but it’s sensitive and very usable and might even come in useful if you’re running Android apps.
I had more serious doubts about the keyboard. It’s a compact model with chiclet keys and no numeric pad or navigation keys, the layout is cramped in places, particularly around the cursor keys, while the left Shift button is positively miniscule. Yet there’s actually a lot to like about its wedge-shaped profile, slightly clicky feel and comfortable travel. After a few hours of working on the Chromebase 22, I was up to normal speed and enjoying it.
HP Chromebase 22-aa0000na review: Display and sound
Not all low-cost AIOs are blessed with a brilliant screen. In fact, both the Acer Aspire C24-1651 and the MSI Modern AM241P-11M had screens with low maximum brightness levels and less than vibrant colour reproduction. The Chromebase 22 isn’t perfect but it’s definitely an improvement. I measured the maximum brightness level at 276cd/m2 with a black level of 0.23cd/m2 and a contrast ratio of 1,187:1.
Colour accuracy could be better, with an average Delta-E of 3.04 but it’s fine for anything bar serious image and video-editing work, and the screen covers 86.5% of the sRGB colour space. In practice, I found it good for watching YouTube videos and playing Stadia games, where the size made for a more engaging, immersive experience than you get from your average 13in or 14in Chromebook.
The sound also has a big role to play here. With two speakers built into the stand, there’s a warmer tone and more bass than you’ll typically get from other all in ones. Games and movie soundtracks have a nice boom and rumble, while stereo separation is surprisingly good. I routinely find all-in-one audio to be weedy but the Chromebase 22, if anything, gets uncomfortably loud, with a little distortion creeping in at the highest volume levels. That’s no disaster, though. This is some of the best, most powerful audio I’ve heard from an all-in-one.
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HP Chromebase 22-aa0000na review: Performance
On a Windows device, the Chromebase 22’s specs would seem underpowered. The Intel Core i3-10110U CPU wasn’t hugely fast when it launched in 2019 and its dual-core, quad-thread configuration now looks dated, despite a very useful max turbo frequency of 4.1GHz.The Geekbench 5 test results put it behind the Acer Chromebook 514, which has a Pentium Gold 7505 CPU and just 4GB of RAM. In other benchmarks, the Chromebase comes behind the Chromebook 514 and last year’s Acer Chromebook Spin 713 with its Intel Core i3-1115G4. In the BaseMark Web 3 benchmark it scores 555 to the 514’s 882 and the 713’s 1,165. In the CRxprt Chrome OS benchmark suite, it reaches 100 against 127 and 146.
Yet that still makes it faster than Chrome OS devices with Celeron or ARM-based processors, including those with the Snapdragon 7C and – more importantly – it never feels slow. It’s snappy and responsive when browsing or running Web-based applications, even with a dozen Chrome tabs open. With 8GB of RAM fitted there’s even a little headroom to run multiple apps at the same time. As a bonus, it’s also really quiet. Even during benchmarking, the Chromebase 22’s cooling system was barely audible.
HP Chromebase 22-aa0000na review: Verdict
I’d like to see a next-gen Chromebase 22 with a faster, more recent CPU, and I’d love to see a higher-end version with an even bigger, higher-resolution screen. Yet this is only because the Chromebase 22 works so well that I’d like to see them take the concept further. It has an effective, functional design along with a good screen and impressive sound and the performance is more than good enough for everyday use.
As someone who spends roughly half their working life inside Google’s ecosystem, I could imagine using the Chromebase 22 as my main work machine and it has a lot to offer anyone wanting a computer for schoolwork, casual browsing and home office use. Sure, Chrome OS still isn’t for everyone but if it works for you the Chromebase 22 is a brilliant budget all-in-one.