The simply named Samsung Chromebook is the latest Chromebook model released by that manufacturer and it sells for just $249. That's half the price of the mid-2012 Samsung Chromebook 550 we reviewed, but you're not giving up much. In fact, you're gaining an even thinner and lighter design and fanless operation for better battery life and silent computing. Like the 550, this Chromebook has an excellent keyboard, making it ideal for content creation types.
The Samsung Chromebook weighs just 2.42 lbs. and despite the low price it doesn't look Fisher-Price. In fact, it has an attractive and slim design and the plastics feel and look decent enough. This is the first ARM-based Chromebook rather than an Intel Atom or Celeron CPU, and performance isn't adversely affected. These days smartphones and tablets run on incredibly powerful ARM CPUs, and they're more than capable of running Chrome OS and the Chrome web browser that handles everything you'll do with this cloud-centric laptop.
The Chromebook has an 11.6" matte display running at 1366 x 768. It's a TN panel (don't expect IPS for $249), but once you angle the display for best contrast and color, it's not a bad experience. The machine runs on Samsung's new Exynos 5 dual core ARM Cortex-A15 CPU (not unlike the Nexus 10 Android tablet) and it has 2 gigs of RAM and 16 gigs of internal flash storage. Google, makers of Chrome OS and the juggernaut behind Chromebooks, doesn't think you'll need lots of storage because the notebook relies on cloud-services and storage for most everything.
For those who are new to Chromebooks, it's the exact opposite of the iOS and Android concept where it's all about the apps. You don't install apps on Chromebooks, instead you do everything using the web browser. You can install Chrome browser extensions to add to the browser's capabilities, but that's it for enhancing the out of the box experience. There is in fact much you can solely through a web browser: email, web browsing, video playback, Netflix, Hulu, Evernote and more. Unsurprisingly, the product focuses on Google services such as Gmail, Google Calendar, Google Docs, Google Play Store for music and video content and YouTube.
To make use of those services, you've got dual band WiFi 802.11b/g/n but no wired Ethernet (the Chromebook 550 has an Ethernet port). 3G isn't on the spec list for now. What happens if your WiFi network or smartphone mobile hotspot goes down? You'll only be able to do the basics: the Chromebook supports offline Google Docs editing and viewing of locally stored images and video. The rest requires an Internet connection. Speaking of local storage, you can augment this with an SD card since the machine has an SD card slot compatible with cards up to 32 gigs. Google provides 100 gigs of cloud storage (good for 2 years after you redeem their offer).
The Chromebook has a full size HDMI port, and it has no trouble playing 1080p video. It has 1 USB 2.0 port and 1 USB 3.0 port and a combo headphone/mic 3.5mm jack. The Chromebook has Bluetooth 3.0 and a Lithium Ion battery that's sealed inside. It's good for 6.5 hours of use (that's what Google claims and it's in fact true).
Here's our Samsung Chromebook (late 2012) video review: