Google's Chrome OS, now more than a year old, is perfect for those who live in the cloud and always have an Internet connection. Chrome 19 takes a few things offline (basic photo viewing and editing, document viewing), but most everything is done through the web browser that for all intents and purposes *is* the OS. In our video review, we take a look at the Samsung Series 5 550 Chromebook that sells for $449 with WiFi and $549 with WiFi and Verizon 3G.
The Samsung 550 Chromebook has a 12.1", 1280 x 800 TN display of average quality, a very good Chiclet keyboard and a roomy trackpad. It runs on a 1.3GHz Intel Celeron CPU (really) and it has 4 gigs of DDR3 RAM and a 16 gig flash drive. The Google-powered notebook has two USB 2.0 ports, a 3.5mm combo audio jack and a 1MP front video chat camera. New for this second gen model is an Ethernet port and a Display Port (particularly useful to education and business types).
Clearly, the very dated hardware isn't the driving reason to buy the Series 5 550 Chromebook. For the same price, you can get a much more compelling Windows laptop. Chrome OS is the star here, but we're not sure the world is ready and able to live life solely online. Not that the Samsung doesn't have a healthy set of connectivity options with Ethernet, dual band WiFi 802.11b/g/n and Verizon 3G with 100 megs of free use per month for up to two years. But power failures happen, networks get flaky and 100 megs won't get you far these days. You can pay extra (pay as you go or contract, your choice) for more Verizon EV-DO data, but these days it's hard to go without 4G LTE, which this Chromebook lacks.
Samsung claims 6 hours of battery life, down from the 10 hours claimed on the last generation Intel Atom powered model. In our tests, we averaged 5.5 hours, which is certainly acceptable.
Here's our Samsung Series 5 550 Chromebook video review: