Not all budget laptops are complete nightmares; you just have to dig a little deeper to find the quality ones, like the HP 14 Laptop (DF0023CL). For $399, the HP 14 Laptop offers a solid 8th-Gen Core i3 processor comboed with a clicky keyboard and a decent 1080p display. You'll have to deal with a relatively short battery life and a middling graphics card, but overall, the HP 14 Laptop is a solid budget laptop for the price.
The HP 14 Laptop that I tested costs $399 and comes outfitted with an Intel Core i3-8130U processor, 4GB of RAM, a 128GB SSD and an Intel UHD 620 GPU. Amazon sells another version that runs for $379 ($331 on sale) and drops you to an Intel Pentium Silver N5000 processor and an Intel GMA 3150 GPU.
This machine doesn't have any personality on the outside, as its plastic hood is painted a generic silver, accompanied by a glossy HP logo stamped in the center. If the logo weren't there, this laptop would be indistinguishable from the competition.
However, the interior of the HP 14 Laptop has some semblance of style. The silver hinge complements the black, faux-aluminum deck. This machine features a backlit-keyboard with stylish font on its keys as well as a speaker vent just above the keyboard. To top it all off, the panel sports slim bezels.
The HP 14 Laptop is the lightest machine among the competition, weighing 3.1 pounds, and it's also nearly the slimmest, measuring 12.8 x 8.9 x 0.8 inches. The Acer Spin 3 (3.8 pounds, 13.2 x 9.1 x 0.8 inches) and the Asus VivoBook Flip 14 (3.2 pounds, 12.9 x 8.9 x 0.6 inches) are pretty light and thin in their own regard. But the 15-inch Acer Aspire E 15 (5 pounds, 15 x 10.2 x 1.2 inches) is a thick boy.
On the left side, you'll find a security lock slot, one USB Type-C port and an SD card slot, while the right side features the power jack, an RJ45 Ethernet port, an HDMI 1.4 port, two USB 3.1 ports and a headphone jack.
While the HP 14 Laptop's 14-inch display isn't very bright or colorful, its glossy screen and leveled-out contrast make the viewing experience better than what your average budget laptop provides. Not to mention, it boasts a 1920 x 1080 resolution.
In the trailer for Taken 3 -- I mean, Angel Has Fallen -- I could see every strand of hair in Nick Nolte's white beard. The orangish explosions set in the grassy field were dull, and the panel itself was so dim that I couldn't see the surroundings in the forest. However, the screen didn't look washed out, meaning it captured whites quite well.
At 199 nits of brightness, the HP 14 Laptop's display isn't too far off of the category average (205 nits), but the Aspire E 15 (227 nits), Spin 3 (226 nits) and VivoBook Flip (221 nits) all did much better.
Keyboard and Touchpad
The HP 14 Laptop's keyboard is surprisingly clicky and pleasant to type on; it even has backlighting, which is rare for a budget laptop. The font on the keys is reminiscent of HP's premium Spectre x360 line.