GADGET WATCH: Samsung Chromebook

Google announced the Chromebook range last year as an avenue for its Chrome OS, a cheap alternative to existing products. The search giant wants to get this OS into the hands of anyone it can – and for now, that means students.

But the Chromebook isn’t just for students. There are reasons why an entrepreneur may want to use a cheaper budget laptop to get the job done.

But can the Chromebook deliver that type of experience?

Hardware and features

The Chromebook series 5 version obviously runs on the Chrome OS, with a screen measuring 12.1 inches across and a 1280×800 resolution. Powered by a dual-core Intel processor, the device comes with 4GB of RAM, and 16GB of internal memory, although that can be expanded with an SD slot.

The device features two USB ports, Ethernet connectivity, and a DisplayPort. Wi-Fi is also on-board, while the battery life is quoted at six hours, although that will change depending on what you’re using it for.

The whole device is said to weigh 3.3 pounds.

What’s the consensus?

As always, the hardware comes first. And although the Chromebook hasn’t changed much from the previous versions, reviewers have praised the brushed-metal finish as staying consistent with the other models.

Over at The Verge, the publication writes that its only complaint is that “colour inconsistencies are so slight”.

“The palmrest is a slightly different shade of silver from the rest of the front-facing body, and the back panel is yet another color. It occupies an odd middle ground between looking like a unibody laptop and having starkly contrasting colors, both of which I would have preferred to the shades-of-gray design.”

However, it also praised the sturdy construction and the addition of new ports.

Engadget was also enthusiastic about the trackpad, saying it was “one of the best we’ve tested lately”, along with the high-quality keyboard as well.

“Compared to Samsung’s own Series 9 laptops and other ultraportables, the chiclet keyboard on offer here actually has some bounce to it. The slightly deeper keys and even the quiet sound make it easy to settle in for hours of web surfing.”

It also praised the display, saying it’s of a higher quality than you might find on more expensive laptops, although criticised the speakers as “poor”.

The real core of Chromebook is in the OS, and so far, it’s a real winner.

At TechRadar, the publication writes that the Samsung Chromebook is not new, but that it’s still well designed. The only problem is that it still requires an internet connection at all times, which creates some “considerable problems”.

“First and foremost, when the functionality of your hardware is so dependent on an internet connection there is a clear problem when you have no internet connection.”

“The original Chromebook and Chrome OS were hammered for being severely hampered by being offline, and it’s something that Google is clearly looking to rectify.”

And although it writes that Google is looking into making more of its apps work offline, TechRadar points out this can be an issue for people who have problems consistently connecting to the internet.

At CNET, however, that was a bigger issue, with the publication saying the device has an “inability to handle offline functions in any useful core capacity”.

As a result, it says the device is “more of a thin-client terminal than a portable computer”.

Who’s it for?

The Chromebook is an excellent device, well-made and easy to use. For anyone familiar with Google products who doesn’t need much computer power, this works a treat.

But if you’re not connected to the internet, watch out – this device has its limitations. If you’re using this in the office as a second work terminal, then it’s great, but for high-powered work, you’re better off looking elsewhere.

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