JKeene Reviews-Samsung Series 5 Chromebook
After much debate I purchased a Samsung Chromebook last week. My laptop has always been faithful to me however I wanted a Chromebook for two reasons. First, portablilty- my laptop is quite large and not something I wanted to carry around. Second, Chrome integration, since I am an addict of all things Google I really wanted to give this device a shot. Here are my impressions after using it for a week.
Appearance and Hardware
The Samsung Chromebook comes in a very simple box and has three things inside, the Chromebook, powercord, and instruction and safety manual. The Chromebook is covered with a glossy plastic cover with two nicely understated logos for Samsung and Chrome. This cover is a fingerprint magnet so keep a wipe nearby. The rest of the laptop is covered with a mix of soft touch plastics that make the Chromebook feel nicer then its price point. Around the side you will find two USB ports, a 4 in 1 Memory Card reader, headphone jack, and a port to hook up to a VGA monitor. The screen is a 12″ 16:10 300nit display with 1280×800 resolution. This display is incredibly bright with a non-glare coating that is extremely effective at allowing you to even view the screen clearly outside in bright sunlight. Internally it has Intel ATOM Processor running at 1.66GHz, 2GB of RAM, and a 16GB SSD. The keyboard is perfect in my opinion. While it is not backlit(most likely to save on cost) the keys are wonderfully spaced and well laid out. The top row features hot keys for everything from screen brightness to speaker volume. While on that subject the speakers are one place this device falls short, the volume is not very loud and music sounds very tinny without much bass. At the top of the screen is a 1MP built-in camera reading, willing, and able to access Google Hangouts. The picture is what you would expect, nothing to write home about however it is not terrible either.
This is the big selling point for the Chromebook. If you have ever used the Chrome browser on your computer you will feel right at home here. The Chromebook is built around cloud computing and HTML 5 and it shows. You simply take it out of the box, plug it in, and turn it on. You will be prompted to enter you Gmail address and password, hit enter and thats it, you are ready to go! There are some preloaded apps but you can either go straight to the Chrome Webstore or start browsing. The Chrome store is great with apps that range from Angry Birds to Screenshot apps, to everything in between. As I stated before everything is cloud based here however do not worry about security. The Chromebook is built to keep viruses out with sandboxing, date encryption, verified boot and all of your apps and documents are stored in the cloud. You can set up profiles on the login screen so noone will be able to access any of the information you have in your cloud and your friends can use your Chromebook without messing up your settings. I know the processor is not top-notch by any means but right now I am writing this review on WordPress with 4 more tabs open and my Google Music app streaming music with no hiccups. The browser works very well, loads pages swiftly, and generally behaves. I had a couple of instances of Flash heavy pages crashing but it happens less than it ever did on my Windows 7 laptop.
Battery Life and Connectivity
Let me go on record as saying the battery life on this device is amazing! Even with heaving use including Google Music streaming, blogging, web surfing, and picture editing I still get at least 7 hours of use. When I only use it in the evenings after work I went 4 days without charging at all! I should mention this is the WiFi only model. I have had no problems with the connection at all. As soon as I open the device it is connected immediately. Closing the lid puts the device promptly into sleep mode to conserve power. The battery also uses Samsung Intelligent Charging technology which allows the battery to maintain 80% of its capacity for up to 1,000 recharges so battery life will not be an issue. I am also going to use this section to talk about the trackpad. It is very large and intuitive to use. Simply click with one finger to use the left click function and click with two fingers to use the right click functions. You can also scroll down a page by dragging two fingers up and down the pad. My only issue is with the size of the pad, when typing I sometimes accidentally hit it and move my cursor. While I am complaining while taking pictures I noticed that I have already somehow scratched the cover of the device. So if you can order one in white do so, then any scratches will be hidden.
The Samsung Chromebook is not perfect. It is strictly a web only device. It will not replace a heavy duty multi-media device or desktop. What it is however,is everything a netbook should be. It is a portable, fast, well-built, device. Google integration is well done and thanks to your information loading from boot there is something to be said about the device feeling like it is your own right from jump. As soon as I booted it felt like I had already been here and within 3 minutes of removing it from the box I was surfing the web and downloading apps from the Chrome store. So if you are looking for a device that fits this bill, I am not sure much could beat this for $350! Even with the flaws this is a very good first effort from the Chrome team. I have not had to open my laptop in a week and love how portable the Chromebook is. So if this sounds good, go online and get one for your Christmas present!
JKeene, AndroREV Editor
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