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HP's First Chromebook: The Tesla of Laptops

Stocks in this article: HPGOOGMSFTFBAAPLBBYTTSLAVZSDELLNFLX

When you consider the $300 price, you have to realize that it doesn't compare to a $300 Windows laptop -- or for that matter a $1,000 MacBook. When you buy the HP Chromebook, the bottom line is $300. In contrast, when you buy a Windows or Mac, you may be buying additional software or warranties, costing you many hundreds of dollars.

With the HP Chromebook, you are likely using Google Docs/Drive -- which is free. Also, other than those "one in ten thousand" hardware failures, you should have no reason to troubleshoot it. So there is no reason to buy a warranty or ever visit a store to deal with a computer issue. This will save you thousands of dollars, hundreds of hours and lots of headache over the computer's life.

In other words, just like a Tesla.

Where should HP go next with its Chrome OS devices? Let me offer HP some advice:

  • Create a product family. One 14-inch laptop is good, but also launch 12-, 13- and 15-inch models, plus a desktop PC and all-in-one PCs.
  • Improve the keyboard and try to match the trackpads from Apple, Samsung and Google.
  • Offer models with embedded LTE for those of us on the road or paranoid about security.
  • Increase the size of the battery so that it is at least six to eight hours, preferably 10+.
  • As soon as Google is ready, HP needs to be the first to offer the Chromephones and Chromepads I described in these two articles on Tuesday and yesterday.

If HP makes a name for itself as the "go to" device maker for Chrome OS, whether on the PC or on the tablet (Chromepad) and smartphone (Chromephone), it could have the kind of epic run Dell (DELL) had in the PC business 25 years ago, or that Samsung had in the Android market over the last two years, when it grew to become the market leader in a brand new market, with hundreds of millions of units sold.

What should HP avoid in its Chrome OS strategy? Follow a cue from Dell and Samsung, again: Avoid clothing your Chrome OS-based PCs, tablets and smartphones in metal encasings. They are pretty but they are also heavy, expensive and slippery.

Inspired by Tesla, Whitman Is With the Times

Like Elon Musk, Meg Whitman is taking a mature industry by the horns and moving to where the younger generation is going: Microsoft Windows is out, Chrome OS is in. HP's first Chromebook boots in a couple of seconds, updates automatically over the air, operates silently and requires no maintenance -- just like a Tesla.

It will take years for HP to be awarded Tesla's stock multiple, but Whitman has listened to the advice from her neighbors -- Brin, Page and, of course, yours truly, who has been writing this Chrome OS column since December 2010. She will not allow her PC business to continue to drift down together with the secular shift away from Windows PCs.

In this quest, the 14-inch HP Chromebook for $300 is a solid first offering, just like the Tesla Model S is a first shot at reshaping the automotive industry. It's a bold move, and after one week of around-the-clock use, I endorse this product with a strong recommendation.

As with Tesla, once you buy the product, you will see why would you should also consider buying the stock. It's that good.

At the time of publication the author was long GOOG and AAPL..

This article was written by an independent contributor, separate from TheStreet's regular news coverage.

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