chromebook 4g – part 2 – choosing a model and best buy

Part 1 covers the decision to buy a 4G model. Now we see which one I chose.

Picking a store

I wanted to buy the ChromeBook at a physical store so I could return it if there was a problem. Two years ago, Best Buy was the only physical store that sold a Chromebook. This year, I know of three stores: Best Buy, PC Richards and Walmart. I live in New York City where Walmart has been treated as unwelcome. I could find the 4G model on PC Richards website. (I didn’t look very hard – it was easy to find on Best Buy’s website. So I chose Best Buy again. Buying it at Best Buy went smoothly last time.

Picking a model

Best Buy sells two 4G models. Here’s a brief comparison of the two. Note that the price is different if you sign up for a two year contract with Verizon. I wasn’t so for me, the price was the same.

HP Asus
Screensize 11.6″ 13.3″
Price $299 $299
CPU Samsung – 1.7GHz Intel 2.16 GHz
RAM 2 GB 2 GB
USB 2 USB 1 USB 2.0 and 1 USB 3.0
HDMI No Yes
Weight 2.3 lbs 3.1 lbs
Reviews This model has been around longer so has more reviews. A year ago, there was an issue with the chargers that got resolved. Other than that, reviews were fine and numerous. This is a newer model so less reviews. No complaints though.

The HP 11 doesn’t connect to an external monitor well

I chose wrong and had to return/exchange it. I read in a review that:

There’s no VGA or HDMI port on the HP Chromebook 11, but you can use a SlimPort adapter with the microUSB port to connect an external display.

I didn’t realize this meant I couldn’t charge the device while being connected to an external monitor. (In hindsight, that is obvious.)

Be careful you don’t get an old HP 11

Before December 2013, there was an issue with the charger. Make sure your computer hasn’t been sitting around for a year. When I went back to Best Buy, the person speaking to the Chromebook rep had an issue with her charger. I’m not clear if it was the same issue. The computer I got had been sitting around a long time as well.

Buying at BestBuy initially

I ordered the Chromebook online with local in store pickup. I could have gotten it the same day as a store about 10 miles away which had it in stock. I chose to wait and get it from my local store. This is a huge change from two years ago. It’s great that Chromebooks are no longer being treated as a niche product. Best Buy felt the need to open the brown box in front of me to check the contents were correct and then tape it back up. Doesn’t exactly give a warm fuzzy feeling when they don’t trust their own shipping department. It was correct though.

Returning at Best Buy

I spoke to the Chromebook rep/specialist at Best Buy.  He said I’d be better off returning the HP 11 Chromebook and buying a different model since the ability to connect to an external monitor was important to me. He showed me the floor sample for the Asus and that it had an HDMI port.

I went home and reset my Chromebook. This was easy; only three steps:

  1. Cancel Verizon 4G plan. (My mistake cost me $20)
  2. Powerwash to restore to factory state.
  3. Put back in the box.

I returned it and bought the Asus 4g model which costs the exact same amount.  This took a long time. Waiting on the return line and returning took time but was straightforward. They didn’t challenge my reason for returning.

When I went back to the computer department, the Chromebook specialist had gone home for the day. I spoke to someone else who told me they were out of the Asus 4g prepaid model, but had it if I wanted a 2 year contract. This is nonsense; it is the same physical computer. I wound up using the floor model to show him this fact on the website. Then there was some delay/confusion in finding it. I could tell he tried to hand me the wrong machine from the price being too low.

See part 3 for setting it up.

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