Saturday, June 11, 2011
Posted by Michael Knutson in "Samsung Laptops & Netbooks" @ 08:30 AM
"The Samsung Chromebook Series 5 isn’t just any laptop — it’s one we’ve been waiting on since the fall of 2009. It was then, back in an economy where netbooks were still selling like hotcakes, that Google’s Sundar Pichai took to the stage in Mountain View to talk about a future operating system that would be completely based around the browser — Chrome OS. He promised a new type of netbook that would connect you to the internet in less than 20 seconds and would be entirely based in the cloud. No hardware was revealed that day, but Google promised Chrome OS laptops made by other manufacturers before the end of 2010 and a real change in computing."
Finally, a review of a real Chromebook, and not a re-hashed CR-48 review. Samsung made their 12.1-inch Chromebook thin and light, but they've made some manufacturing compromises to keep the cost (somewhat) down, for example, flimsy plastic moving parts, no ethernet, no HDMI-out, no USB 3.0, and no backlit keyboard.
The keyboard is a chiclet, and has done away with some traditional keys (they can be re-mapped) like the CAPS LOCK. The touchpad is better than expected. The matte screen at 1280x800 is a 300 nit screen, so it's "bright and crisp," and also works well outdoors. The shiny bezel can be distracting. The videocam is HD and works well - reports of audio being slightly out-of-sync were reported, although this could've been an issue with network congestion. Unfortunately there is no production Skype client yet. Speakers are small and tinny, no big surprise.
Pros have been widely reported already, but the bottom line is that if a user can use a browser, they can use a Chromebook. Apps are really just web pages. The system -can- be used not connected to the web, but in local mode only with no real apps support. Battery life is good, but not quite "all day." The "free" 3G is nice, but easily can be used-up in a day.
Cons are that the Chromebook (OS) feels unfinished, apps are limited, performance is erratic and sometimes sluggish, memory can't be upgraded (soldered to mother board), a control panel app is sorely needed, no 1080p playback, expensive for what one gets.
The review gave the Chromebook Series 5 a score of 5/10. I was considering pre-ordering, but I think that I'll wait until the price comes down a bit, and there have been several update cycles. $500 for this limited functionality (Wifi + 3G) can buy a pretty decent netbook (or notbook).