Samsung Series 5 550 Chromebook review
With a higher specification and facilities for offline use, the Chromebook is now a more viable choice for schools
Review Date: 4 Oct 2012
Reviewed By: Kat Orphanides
Price when reviewed: £304 (£365 inc VAT)
Features & Design
Value for Money
There are good reasons why schools will like the idea of Google’s Chromebooks. They’re affordable, there’s money to be saved on licences and software, they’re quick to boot and easier to manage, and users can sign in to their own desktop.
Unfortunately, the last generation of Chromebooks gave schools several reasons to dislike them, such as poor performance and an inability to do anything offline. The new Samsung Chrome OS laptop fixes the former, with the Atom processor of its predecessor replaced by a dual-core 1.3GHz Celeron 867 and its 2GB of memory upgraded to 4GB. Storage comes via a 16GB SSD, so it boots almost instantly. The extra processor power means apps now run smoothly, as does video.
The other key issue was the inability to work on documents without access to Google’s cloud. The newly released Chrome OS 20 and Google Drive let you work on your documents offline. You can access documents in the Google Drive tab of Chrome’s file manager and, once you’re back online, your docs are synced.
The Series 5 has excellent build quality and a slim, silver body that reminds us of Apple’s smaller portables. The cut-down keyboard has flat and widely spaced chiclet-style keys, and is remarkably accurate and comfortable to use. There’s no numeric keypad or other additional keys on the right-hand side of the keyboard, but we’re happy to do without most of these.
Its large touchpad is located dead centre on the wrist rest, which means you don’t hit it by accident when you’re typing. The touchpad’s size also makes it easy to control your pointer accurately and use mouse gestures. The entire pad is a button, and you can press it anywhere, using one finger to left-click and two fingers to access right-click menus and options. Other gestures include the ability to scroll by placing two fingers anywhere on the touchpad and moving them. Because everything runs in the Chrome OS browser, it’s worth noting that clicking a link opens it in a new tab, although you can open new browser windows, too.
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