Hands on with Samsung Chromebook
We’ve just spent the last hour trying out Samsung’s new Series 5 Chromebook and wanted to share our initial impressions. The Series 5 is a web-only affair using Google’s Chrome OS so there won’t be any desktop behind the browser. While the Chromebook is focused more on entertainment-related activities, it can also handle light productivity. The notebook is good at surfing the web, watching movies and video, and staying connected to social networks. Its light weight and 8.5 hours of battery life make it extremely portable, but ultimately it can’t replace a regular netbook’s versatility.
Dimensions and Ports
Measuring 8.6 x 11.6 (H) x .79 inches and weighing in at 3.3-lbs, the Series 5 can easily fit into any shoulder or book bag. The lid is made of a glossy white plastic accented with the colorful Google Chrome logo. Like the best netbooks, the Chromebook is powered by a 1.66GHz dual-core Intel Atom N570 CPU, a 16GB SSD, and integrated graphics. As a result, the notebook boots up in about 10-15 seconds and immediately connects to an available Wi-Fi connection. The matte, 12.1-inch LED display has a native resolution of 1280 x 800p. Peripheral addicts will be disappointed with the Series 5’s slim pickings. On the right side, we found 1 USB 2.0 port and a 4-in-1 card reader. The left side houses an additional USB 2.0 port, a mini-VGA port, a combination microphone/headphone jack and the power jack. The Wi-Fi only version of the Series 5 is priced at $429 while the Verizon-supported 3G model is an additional $50 at $479.
Keyboard and Touchpad
Typing on the Series 5 is a comfortable experience thanks to the full island-style keyboard. The matte black keys are large and flat with firm feedback and the palm rests were just able to fit our wrists. The top row on the keyboard feature a unique set of keys specifically designed for web browsing. Alongside the Esc key are forward and back, refresh, full screen, and window swap keys. There are also keys to control display brightness and volume. The large, smudge-proof touchpad supports multitouch, however apart from two-finger scroll we weren’t able to get functions such as pinch-to-zoom to register. Touchpad navigation was similarly sticky. The cursor jumped a number of times and we had to swipe numerous times to get the action to register.
The Chromebook has access to thousands of apps in Google’s web store. Users can install web apps for spreadsheets, photo and video editing. A number of the apps will work without an Internet connection which is great if you find yourself in a spotty Wi-Fi area and don’t have the 3G coverage. Another Series 5 benefit is that all your documents, apps, and settings are automatically stored within the cloud. That means users can access their data from virtually anywhere and easily share it with friends.
Overall, the Chromebook offers a good web browsing experience. While it might perform better as an entertainment laptop, the number of apps and the added benefit of your information being automatically stored in the cloud make the Series 5 an attractive option. Would we be willing to shell out almost $500 to own one? We’ll have to wait and see until the full review.