Samsung Chromebook review
Samsung makes the most of Google’s Chrome OS and delivers an affordable and capable 11.6in laptop
There was quite a fuss surrounding the first Chromebook, but after a big launch and plenty of marketing, it all went rather quiet. Google’s first attempt at producing a proper operating system – Chrome OS – was intriguing, but far too limited in what it could do. A year on, we have the next installment, and Google has clearly been hard at work.
There are, in fact, two new Chromebooks, both from Samsung: one with a 12.1in screen; and the one we have on review here – the smaller, cheaper 11.6in model. And when we say cheaper, we mean it. The 11.6in Chromebook is a full £121 cheaper than the original - a staggering 35% saving - and also comes with a very generous two-year 100GB helping of Google Drive online storage thrown in.
Despite the lower price the hardware hasn’t taken a hit. In fact, in many ways it’s superior. At 1.09kg, it’s over 200g lighter than the previous model, and the ergonomics haven’t suffered at all. There’s still a sizeable keyboard with a well-designed layout, and the keys have enough travel for longer typing sessions.
The multitouch touchpad is broad and sensitive and supports two-fingered scrolling. We don’t like the lack of discrete buttons, but didn’t experience any problems with the cursor jumping around as we clicked and dragged our way around.
Connectivity has improved. One of the two USB sockets on the Chromebook’s rear edge has become a USB 3 socket, and there’s now a full-sized HDMI output in addition to the SD card slot and 3.5mm headphone jack it had before. The 3G model also has a SIM card slot under a flap at the rear.
The practical, matte-finish screen has a few more pixels, replacing the original’s 16:10, 1,280 x 800 panel with a 16:9, 1,366 x 768 unit. Image quality is underwhelming, though. With maximum brightness of only 219cd/m2, it doesn’t blaze with life, and while the contrast ratio of 296:1 is good by budget laptop standards, pictures and video lack the vivid punch of glossy screened models.
With that screen set to just below mid-brightness you can expect between nine and ten hours of continuous use from the battery. That’s with Wi-Fi off and no more than a little word processing, mind you. You can expect that figure to fall closer to Google’s quoted 6hrs 30mins once you boost the brightness and start browsing the web.
|Price ex VAT||£191|
|Price inc VAT||£229|
|Features & Design||5|
|Value for Money||6|
|Warranty||1 yr return to base|
|Dimensions||289 x 204 x 22mm (WDH)|
Processor and memory
Screen and video
|Resolution screen horizontal||1,366|
|Resolution screen vertical||768|
|Resolution||1366 x 768|
|VGA (D-SUB) outputs||0|
|Replacement battery price inc VAT||£0|
|Wired adapter speed||N/A|
|802.11 draft-n support||yes|
|Integrated 3G adapter||yes|
|Wireless hardware on/off switch||no|
|Wireless key-combination switch||yes|
|PC Card slots||0|
|USB ports (downstream)||1|
|PS/2 mouse port||no|
|9-pin serial ports||0|
|Optical S/PDIF audio output ports||0|
|Electrical S/PDIF audio ports||0|
|3.5mm audio jacks||1|
|SD card reader||yes|
|Memory Stick reader||no|
|Pointing device type||touchpad|
|Hardware volume control?||yes|
|Camera megapixel rating||0.3mp|
Battery and performance tests
|Overall application benchmark score||N/A|
|Office application benchmark score||N/A|
|2D graphics application benchmark score||N/A|
|Encoding application benchmark score||N/A|
|Multitasking application benchmark score||N/A|
Operating system and software
|Operating system||Chrome OS|
|OS family||Chrome OS|