HP Chromebook 11 Charging Fix

So, the nice HP Chromebook 11 that my wife has seems to have a design fault. If you let the battery run flat, the Chromebook will no longer charge. Symptoms are that there is no charging LED, and no matter how many hours you leave it with the charger plugged in it simply will not charge the battery. It won’t switch on either, so you can’t even use it plugged in style!

Ideally, you’ll want to recharge the thing every time the battery drops to 20% or so to avoid this issue but here’s what to do if you do manage to kill your Chromebook by letting it run flat.

Carefully prise off the coloured panels on the base, to reveal the screws. Open the the thing up and find the battery connector:

chromebook11internal

Now, disconnect this connector and then connect the charger. You’ll see the orange LED light to show that charging is happening. After a few seconds the LED will turn red indicating a problem with the battery. (Unsurprising since we disconnected it.)

Now, with the charger still plugged in reconnect the battery connector. The red LED will turn back to orange, and the Chromebook will start to charge.

Once charging is complete (indicated by the green LED), you can remove the charger, replace the cover, screws and coloured panels and enjoy your Chromebook again.

Just don’t let it run too flat in future!

Hello Chromebook (Again!)

Having already dipped my toe in the water of Chromebooks with my wife’s HP Chromebook 11, I knew that I liked Chrome OS. The very fast boot time, stable and full featured browser together with a real physical keyboard make these great devices for people who like to create content, rather than just consume it.

I managed to get a few Chromebooks to use with students at work too, and they’ve found the same thing. Switch on, log in, work. Simple. No hassle about updates, apps, or who was using the device before you and left it all messed up. Sadly, I’ve been told that we can’t roll out more Chromebooks for students to use because our government don’t want to support another platform. Yes. Really. Support. For a Chromebook(!)

It is better to remain silent at the risk of being thought a fool, than to talk and remove all doubt of it.

Anyway, I digress. The whole point of this article was to tell you about my new toy! My wife hasn’t been able to get near her Chromebook, so I decided to get my own. I’ve gone for the Acer C720, which at £179 was cheaper. There are some compromises compared to the HP Chromebook 11 – most notably the screen, which while being perfectly adequate on the Acer is poor when compared to the screen on the HP. The keyboard isn’t quite so roomy either. Also the Acer C720 looks like a ‘functional’ laptop, and lacks the refined design touches of the HP. It’s not all doom and gloom though – the device runs a touch faster, and has a built in SD card reader and an standard sized HDMI output, which the HP doesn’t have.

One of my main reasons for choosing the Acer other than the price, was that it has an Intel processor. I knew that this would mean that I could find Linux kernels that would be more likely to run on it, without too much hassle. In fact, it has been very easy to tweak. It seems that Acer knew that ‘geeks’ would be drawn to a lower cost device with a screen and keyboard, so they’ve made it quite easy to work with. In developer mode, you can boot from USB devices, and the Acer also has a cut down ‘BIOS’ called SeaBIOS which can be booted from the Coreboot bootloader, effectively meaning anything written for a ‘standard’ x86 PC can be booted.

After just a few minutes of tweaking, I’ve now got my Acer C720 to be a Chromebook OR a fully-fledged Ubuntu laptop. I can choose the OS at boot time depending on what tasks I want to get done. It’s definitely the best of both worlds. Ubuntu runs well, and the battery life is pretty good.

If you’re in the market for a Chromebook, or a cheap Linux laptop, then I’d recommend the C720 at this price point. Very portable, and great for people who like to get things done when out and about.