Samsung Series 5 550 Chromebook review

4 Oct 2012

With a higher specification and facilities for offline use, the Chromebook is now a more viable choice for schools

Price when reviewed: 
365(£364 inc VAT)
5

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.

Samsung Series 5 550 Chromebook

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.

Samsung Series 5 550 Chromebook

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.

Details

Price ex VAT £304
Price inc VAT £365
Overall rating 5
Features & Design 5
Value for Money 5
Performance 4

Warranty

Warranty 1yr collect and return

Physical specifications

Dimensions 291 x 216 x 21.2mm (WDH)
Weight 1.370kg

Processor and memory

Processor Intel Celeron 867
RAM capacity 4.00GB

Screen and video

Screen size 12.1in
Resolution screen horizontal 1,280
Resolution screen vertical 800
Resolution 1280 x 800
Graphics chipset Intel HD Graphics 3000

Drives

Replacement battery price inc VAT £0

Networking

802.11a support yes
802.11b support yes
802.11g support yes
802.11 draft-n support yes

Other Features

USB ports (downstream) 2
3.5mm audio jacks 1
SD card reader yes
Pointing device type Touchpad
Camera megapixel rating 1.3mp

Battery and performance tests

Battery life, light use 9hr 0min
3D performance (crysis) low settings N/A
3D performance setting N/A
Overall Real World Benchmark score N/A
Responsiveness score N/A
Media score N/A
Multitasking score N/A

Operating system and software

Operating system Google Chrome OS 20
OS family Chrome OS