I remember just a couple of years ago netbooks were all the craze. With the rising use of tablets and bluetooth keyboards, consumers started using netbooks less and resorted to full-on laptops and tablet use. As the owner of both a tablet and a netbook. Consumers who use netbooks mostly used them for their portability and ease in connecting to the internet for surfing and checking email. Google had the brilliant idea of coming up with a device that works like a tablet but has a mouse and a keyboard.
Samsung Chromebook – What Is It?
Meet the Google Chromebook. A Chromebook is a computer that mainly runs on the web with Google Chrome as the OS. The first version of the Chromebook was released in 2011. The Samsung Series 5 Chromebook was Google’s first attempt at lightweight portable “netbook”. It didn’t really catch on due to the high prices (it came out at $450 and bulky build). It wasn’t appealing nor practical.
Google has tried again in late 2012 with two additions to the Chromebook lineup. I reviewed the Samsung Chromebook Series 3 (XE303C12 version). So what do you expect from a laptop that runs on a web browser?
Samsung Chromebook – Hardware and Build
When you look at the new Samsung Chromebook (Series 3) you immediately notice a difference from the Series 5 Chromebook. Google learned that body and price have a lot to do with popularity. The XE303C12 Chromebook is smaller than the previous models with an 11.6 screen. It has a resolution of 1366 x 768, so you won’t be viewing full HD. You notice the much thinner body as well. It’s 0.7″ thick. When taking it out of the packaging I was impressed at how lightweight it was. Weighs less than 2.5 pounds. Looking at it from far you can’t tell that this laptop is less than $300. The sleek aluminum finish look gives it that Macbook/ultrabook look. Except that it’s not aluminum. It’s really plastic. You have to be a bit more careful with it. As you plastic is not as durable as aluminum.
The ports are located in the back. It has one 3.0 USB port, one 2.0 USB port, a HDMI port. I was happy to see the 3.0 port. The AC adapter is right next to the HDMI port. The headset jack is on the back left corner. I am not sure why it would be all the way back there. It was uncomfortable for me to use.
KEYBOARD – Samsung Chromebook
The chiclet keyboard is actually pretty sturdy; and I did not have to get used to it. I barely found myself making errors. The touchpad was impressive. Sensitive enough for gestures but I didn’t find myself highlighting or clicking without knowing/intention. It has gestures similar to those of the MacBook; such as swiping and scrolling. Just remember that while it may resemble a new MacBook keyboard; it isn’t backlit. Like a few others; I heard a squeaking type of noise when resting my wrists below the keyboard. The keyboard is definitely a strong point on the device.
Since the Chromebook is running just Chrome; the laptop is very clean. I am a huge fan of Chrome OS. I use Google Drive, Calendar, Gmail, Maps religiously. I wouldn’t be able to function without these apps. Using the Chromebook was a breeze for me. With the dual-core ARM processor you expect slower processing speeds. It actually worked very well with multiple tabs. Watching videos on YouTube wasn’t a problem either. While there’s no glare from the screen because of the matte finish; you sacrifice wide viewing angles.I didn’t enjoy the speakers too much. They’re placed in the bottom. The speakers are just 1.5 watts. It has a muffled sound. I wasn’t expecting great speakers but better placement would’ve helped the sound a bit.
I like the Chrome desktop. It’s not really a desktop; but it has a few options that give it a desktop feel. You can pin your favorite google apps to the taskbar at the bottom. You can also change the wallpaper. It has a familiar feel that will ease some into using the chromebook. When I had more than seven tabs open the performance started to lag. Loading large Google Docs was a problem sometimes as well.
Who Should Get A Chromebook?
The Chromebook is basically a tablet with a built-in keyboard. In order for you to get the full benefit of the Chromebook you have to rely largely on cloud services. Of course this laptop shouldn’t be your main one. It has all the great uses of a tablet around the house. You can log on and do simple things. You can check your social network activity. Checking emails and web documents (Google documents mainly). The fast startup of the device is also a plus. If you rely largely on the cloud and need a lot of text input; the Chromebook is a great choice over a tablet. You won’t find netbooks for the same price as the Chromebook. The only thing you give up by getting a Chromebook over a netbook is the ability to run Windows programs. You’ll get great battery life; as the Chromebook lasted me 6 hours and 17 minutes.
I think the Samsung Chromebook is accurately priced for the performance and build. $249 is not much to ask for tablet like performance and a built-in keyboard. It’s great as a second or third device around the house to get on the internet. The fact that you can sign in and out of accounts easily makes it great for multiple users. If you can’t completely rely on the browser; the Chromebook is not for you. This is great for those that don’t want to spend a ton of money on a tablet for children in the household. Features like 100 GB of Google Drive and Gogo flight passes (while they still offer them) are a huge plus and make the Chromebook much more appealing.
At this affordable price; I’m sure you’ll be seeing Chromebooks popping up more.