kitty2011's Aeonity Blog
view recent entries / profile / friends / archive / rss / Aeonity Blog

Samsung Chromebook Series 5 laptop review

May 19th, 2011 3:50:28 am - Subscribe

£349 inc VAT (Wi-Fi model); £399 inc VAT (3G model)
Hang on, folks, because mobile computing has just got a bit more interesting. Google's Chrome OS is finally ready for the wild, two years after its launch, and the Samsung Chromebook Series 5, due out on June 15 in the UK and five other countries, will be one of two laptops to showcase Google's web-based operating system.

When Chrome OS was first announced two years ago, I wondered if we really needed another mobile OS. Many of my questions still stand, especially given the runaway success of Android. But after taking the Samsung Chromebook Series 5 for a spin tonight, I was pleasantly surprised to see how far some aspects of the laptop and its OS have come.
Samsung Chromebook Series 5: Design

From the outside, Samsung's Chromebook looks like any other ultralight laptop, save for the Google Chrome logo on the outside cover. It measures 295 by 218 by 20mm - compact, but not especially svelte.

The Samsung's weight doesn't impress, either. At 1.5kg, it's no featherweight like the Apple MacBook Air; however, at least the Chromebook felt deceptively lighter than it is, a phenomenon I'd credit to how well-balanced the laptop felt in hand. I was surprised by how easily I could grip the Chromebook in one hand, actually.
Samsung Chromebook Series 5: Fast starter

One of the big selling points of Chromebook is its near-instant-on capability. It starts up in under 10 seconds from a cold boot, and it's ready to use as soon as you open the lid to wake it from sleep. The latter mirrors the sense of immediacy one gets with a Google Android 3.0 tablet, but that cold boot time remains an important differentiator. Android continues to have overhead bottlenecks that cause startup and shutdown times to take some time.

None of the Android 3.0 tablets I've tested have wowed me with their boot times; and for a couple, I was literally able to grab some iced tea and down half of it before the tablet came to life again.

While some of the Chromebook's startup zippiness has to be credited to the design of Google's Chrome OS, some of it, perhaps, could be due to the components inside. The Series 5 actually runs components that echo today's netbooks: It has a 1.66GHz dual-core Intel Atom N570 processor, 2GB of RAM and a 16GB mSATA SSD (used for caching data locally). Those specs are meatier than what you'll find in an Android tablet today.

Physical connectivity on the Series 5 Chromebook is minimal. All ports along the sides are tucked away beneath covers, except for a lone USB 2.0 port at the far right rear of the laptop. You get an SDHC card slot at front, another USB 2.0 port beneath a cover at the left, a video-out port, and a full-size SIM card slot (on the 3G-capable white and titanium models). The 3.5mm headphone jack doubles as a microphone input as well; and the Chromebook has a 1Mp webcam for video chat.


The island-style keyboard on the Chromebook felt very roomy and comfortable for my touch-typist fingers. I liked the smooth and roomy trackpad as well; it wasn't stiff, as I've found with other touchpads that double as the mouse buttons. The keyboard swaps the function keys of yore for a row of browser-friendly keys, though the idea of having navigation buttons like page back, page forward, refresh, and new window situated so far up on the keyboard seems like it may be counterproductive (I'd prefer such keys to be more handily situated, but I'll need more time with the laptop to tell how well they work in practice).

I was encouraged at the Google I/O keynote introducing the Chromebook to hear about the file manager that's been added to Chromebook. I've been tracking the challenges of native file handling in mobile operating systems, and was eager to give this feature a try on Chromebook.

My torture test was simple: I pulled out a random USB drive and attached it to the USB port. Chrome OS quickly recognised external storage was attached, and up popped the file manager as another tab in the Chrome browser onscreen. I was able to view my folders and files, select a file, preview the image in a pane on the right, or double-click to open the image.

The high-resolution images didn't always automatically resize to fit the screen (as they do when you double-click on a photo in Microsoft Windows Explorer and open it Window Photo Viewer), but they looked good on the 12.1in (1280x800-pixel) display. Really good. Colours were vibrant and accurately rendered - no small trick, as we've seen from Android 3.0's problems. The file manager remains limited for now - the version I used lacked the ability to do basic file copy functions - but a Google rep promised that functionality will be in place soon.

Laptop Advisor
Samsung Chromebook Series 5: Interface

While nosing around the Chrome OS interface, I looked at how apps appear in the Chrome browser (see the image below) I also tried replicating my usual web browsing experience in the Chromebook's Chrome browser. (Hrm. I think I just tested how many times one can put Chrome into a sentence.) The usage I was trying to gauge here was the scenario that sees 30-some-odd tabs open simultaneously - and that's just in one window.

Print
Send as Email
Recommend on Facebook
Retweet
Digg

Budget laptops Reviews
6,001 Reviews

Samsung Chromebook Series 5 laptop review

£349 inc VAT (Wi-Fi model); £399 inc VAT (3G model)

Our Rating: We rate this out 0 of 10

By Melissa J Perenson | PC World | 12 May 11

We got our hands on the new Google Chrome OS laptop from Samsung: the Samsung Chromebook Series 5. Here's our first look review.

Expert Review
User Reviews
Technical Specs
Our Verdict
Compare Prices
Related Products

We got our hands on the new Google Chrome OS laptop from Samsung: the Samsung Chromebook Series 5. Here's our first look review.
Related Articles

Google Chrome OS review
Google CR-48 review
First look: CR-48 laptop running Chrome OS
Samsung unveils Chromebook Series 5 Google OS laptop
Google announces Chrome laptops to launch in June

Hang on, folks, because mobile computing has just got a bit more interesting. Google's Chrome OS is finally ready for the wild, two years after its launch, and the Samsung Chromebook Series 5, due out on June 15 in the UK and five other countries, will be one of two laptops to showcase Google's web-based operating system.

When Chrome OS was first announced two years ago, I wondered if we really needed another mobile OS. Many of my questions still stand, especially given the runaway success of Android. But after taking the Samsung Chromebook Series 5 for a spin tonight, I was pleasantly surprised to see how far some aspects of the laptop and its OS have come.
Samsung Chromebook Series 5: Design

From the outside, Samsung's Chromebook looks like any other ultralight laptop, save for the Google Chrome logo on the outside cover. It measures 295 by 218 by 20mm - compact, but not especially svelte.

The Samsung's weight doesn't impress, either. At 1.5kg, it's no featherweight like the Apple MacBook Air; however, at least the Chromebook felt deceptively lighter than it is, a phenomenon I'd credit to how well-balanced the laptop felt in hand. I was surprised by how easily I could grip the Chromebook in one hand, actually.
Samsung Chromebook Series 5: Fast starter

One of the big selling points of Chromebook is its near-instant-on capability. It starts up in under 10 seconds from a cold boot, and it's ready to use as soon as you open the lid to wake it from sleep. The latter mirrors the sense of immediacy one gets with a Google Android 3.0 tablet, but that cold boot time remains an important differentiator. Android continues to have overhead bottlenecks that cause startup and shutdown times to take some time.

None of the Android 3.0 tablets I've tested have wowed me with their boot times; and for a couple, I was literally able to grab some iced tea and down half of it before the tablet came to life again.

While some of the Chromebook's startup zippiness has to be credited to the design of Google's Chrome OS, some of it, perhaps, could be due to the components inside. The Series 5 actually runs components that echo today's netbooks: It has a 1.66GHz dual-core Intel Atom N570 processor, 2GB of RAM and a 16GB mSATA SSD (used for caching data locally). Those specs are meatier than what you'll find in an Android tablet today.

Physical connectivity on the Series 5 Chromebook is minimal. All ports along the sides are tucked away beneath covers, except for a lone USB 2.0 port at the far right rear of the laptop. You get an SDHC card slot at front, another USB 2.0 port beneath a cover at the left, a video-out port, and a full-size SIM card slot (on the 3G-capable white and titanium models). The 3.5mm headphone jack doubles as a microphone input as well; and the Chromebook has a 1Mp webcam for video chat.

Samsung Chromebook Series 5

Samsung Chromebook Series 5 keyboard

The island-style keyboard on the Chromebook felt very roomy and comfortable for my touch-typist fingers. I liked the smooth and roomy trackpad as well; it wasn't stiff, as I've found with other touchpads that double as the mouse buttons. The keyboard swaps the function keys of yore for a row of browser-friendly keys, though the idea of having navigation buttons like page back, page forward, refresh, and new window situated so far up on the keyboard seems like it may be counterproductive (I'd prefer such keys to be more handily situated, but I'll need more time with the laptop to tell how well they work in practice).

I was encouraged at the Google I/O keynote introducing the Chromebook to hear about the file manager that's been added to Chromebook. I've been tracking the challenges of native file handling in mobile operating systems, and was eager to give this feature a try on Chromebook.

My torture test was simple: I pulled out a random USB drive and attached it to the USB port. Chrome OS quickly recognised external storage was attached, and up popped the file manager as another tab in the Chrome browser onscreen. I was able to view my folders and files, select a file, preview the image in a pane on the right, or double-click to open the image.

The high-resolution images didn't always automatically resize to fit the screen (as they do when you double-click on a photo in Microsoft Windows Explorer and open it Window Photo Viewer), but they looked good on the 12.1in (1280x800-pixel) display. Really good. Colours were vibrant and accurately rendered - no small trick, as we've seen from Android 3.0's problems. The file manager remains limited for now - the version I used lacked the ability to do basic file copy functions - but a Google rep promised that functionality will be in place soon.

Laptop Advisor
Samsung Chromebook Series 5: Interface

While nosing around the Chrome OS interface, I looked at how apps appear in the Chrome browser (see the image below) I also tried replicating my usual web browsing experience in the Chromebook's Chrome browser. (Hrm. I think I just tested how many times one can put Chrome into a sentence.) The usage I was trying to gauge here was the scenario that sees 30-some-odd tabs open simultaneously - and that's just in one window.

Samsung Chromebook S5 interface

While I learned about a couple of interface shortcuts, like jumping to a different tab by pressing the tab number and a key combo, while talking with Google reps about this scenario, I learned that right now, it's not easy to move among scores of open tabs. Those tabs were reduced down to tiny tabs with just "..." as a tab identifier - and that's no way to figure out what's actually on that tab.

Considering these tabs will, in the Chrome OS universe, represent your open documents, media files, applications, and web pages, this is an interface challenge that Google will need to crack, and soon. Google reps said that several approaches are being considered, but nothing has been nailed down as yet. Of course, this is where Chromebook and Chrome OS's regular updates, currently scheduled for once every six weeks, will come in handy.
mood: slinky
(0) comments

add comment

ReCaptcha:

Posting as anonymous Anonymous guest, why not register, or login now.

usb cd dvd drive laptop accessories labtop batteries laptop charger laptop ac adapter laptop screen laptop keyboard