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One year in: I love this Chromebook, but the faulty battery ruins it
18 March 2018
A few months ago this would have been a positive, 5-star review.
It's a great little machine for working on the go, and for portability. The small screen doesn't bother me too much, because I've worked on small screens before, and having the tablet functionality is also very, very useful. It's powerful enough, being capable of handling a good few Chrome tabs, though it will struggle with more demanding stuff. I've not dropped it or damaged it in any way, so I can't speak to its durability, but I do love the aluminium and glass build. The proprietary charger is annoying, since it will be hard to get a replacement should it die, but I can live with it.
However, in the last couple of months (just before the year's warranty was up, weirdly enough) it's been randomly shutting down when running on battery power. The first few times I'd assumed I hadn't been tracking the battery power properly and just left it to charge for a bit. But then I noticed that the battery wasn't anywhere near the point where it should be shutting down - consistently around 40-50%. This morning it shut down at 64% and refused to boot back up again until I plugged it in.
I searched this problem and it seems to be fairly common on this model, with no-one seeming to have a solution to the issue. I ran a battery test in Chrome's inbuilt dev shell and the battery comes up as 88% healthy (good for a year old), so it seems to be an existing flaw with the battery's cells. I spoke to Amazon's support about this (my returns box has weirdly disappeared) and they recommended holding the power button down for 30 seconds and essentially doing a hard reset of the Chromebook. Since the problem didn't repro after that point, I'd hoped it was fixed. However, since the issue isn't able to be consistently reproduced, it wasn't possible to be sure -- and this morning, my misgivings proved to be correct when it shut down again.
It breaks my heart to have to write this negative review, because it's otherwise been a great little machine and I was hoping it would last me a good long time. But at only just over a year in, I don't expect to be having issues with a sealed-in battery that I can't access. I shall be speaking to Amazon's support again, and pressing for a replacement of this faulty unit. It's a great machine, but if you end up with a faulty battery it'll ruin your experience. What sort of use is a small, portable Chromebook when you can't rely on the battery to stay alive?