Take the HP Laptop 14-dq2020nr: It’s every inch an economy model, with just 4GB of RAM and a 128GB solid-state drive—half the memory and storage we consider today’s minimum—but it’s a workable introduction to Windows for those who don’t want to consider a Chromebook.
FOUR CORES AND S MODE
Though some online listings say the 14-dq2020nr has a dual-core Intel Core i3-1115G4, our test unit actually clicks that up to a quad-core, 2.0GHz (3.7GHz turbo) Core i3-1125G4 processor with Intel integrated UHD Graphics. The 14-inch non-touch screen offers full HD resolution (1,920 by 1,080 pixels). The default operating system is Windows 10 Home in S Mode, which restricts software installations to programs from the Windows Store; a few clicks in the Store can perform an irreversible switch to regular Windows 10 Home, which we made in order to install our benchmark-test software.
Clad in silver plastic, the HP Laptop measures 0.71 by 12.8 by 8.9 inches and weighs 3.24 pounds, making it just a little bit heftier than the rival Asus VivoBook S14 (0.63 by 12.8 by 8.4 inches and 3.09 pounds). A chrome HP logo decorates the lid. There’s a fair amount of flex when you grasp the screen corners or press the keyboard deck.
HP Laptop 14-dq2020nr
Surprisingly peppy processor. Good battery life. Fingerprint reader.
Skimpy storage and memory. Lackluster screen. Keyboard isn’t backlit, or overly comfortable. Wireless networking supports Wi-Fi 5, not 6.
If you have less than $500 to spend on a new Windows notebook, you could do worse than the HP Laptop 14-dq2020nr, but be prepared to live with its limitations.
The bezels on either side of the screen are fairly slim (HP quotes a 78% screen-to-body ratio), though the top and bottom borders are thicker. The webcam centered above the display has no privacy shutter or face-recognition capability. The keyboard is not backlit, though it contains a fingerprint reader in the palm rest for skipping passwords with Windows Hello.
The laptop’s left side is bare except for an SD card slot. On the right are two USB 3.1 Type-A ports and one USB 3.1 Type-C port—all peaking at 5Gbps instead of the 10Gbps or 20Gbps of later variants—along with an HDMI video output, an audio jack, and the power connector. A Realtek controller provides Wi-Fi 5 (802.11ac) and Bluetooth, not the newer Wi-Fi 6.
THE BARE NECESSITIES
The 720p webcam captures reasonably well-lit and colorful soft-focus images with a bit of noise or static. Sound from the speaker grille above the keyboard is loud enough to fill a small room but is muddy and flat, with zero bass and almost no hint of overlapping tracks. HP Audio Center software offers music, movie, and voice presets, an equalizer, and microphone noise cancellation.
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