Hello, my fellow techВ savvyВ friends! It is a wonderful day out, and there is nothing better to compliment the sunshine than to have a new laptop, if I may, accompany you. I was, once again, looking for a budget portable that would do three task: Browse the web, type word documents, and play some tunes while doing so. Well, the Chromebook does all of that and more in a different manner. This review may be outdated because there are a ton of reviews out already, but seeing how I just picked up this convincingly priced machine, I thought I would share my opinions anyways.
I was tempted to leave this segment out because I didnt want our audience to read budget specs and immediately say to themselves, Not the machine for me. When I purchased the Chromebook, the last thing I worried about was specs. I knew what I was getting myself into and in the back of my mind I knew the machine ran on budget hardware. But that doesnt mean the machine doesnt push a work load easily.В But anyways, all of the detail will be below. AND AGAIN KEEP IN MIND, for 250.00 bucks, the hardware is pretty good.
The Specs are: Samsungs Exynos 5 Dual processor at 1.7Ghz.В 11.6 Display with a resolution of 1366768. It has 2Gbs of ram and 16gb internal flash storage. It also has a .3 Mp Webcam, internal mic and speaker. An HDMI port. Two USB ports, one being USB 2.0 and the other being the blue 3.0. There is a headphone jack as well as a multi-card slot.
I had done previous research on the Samsung Chromebook and quiet frankly, there was not much that impressed me. I constantly saw ads on it, I heard countless people talk about it, and I continued to walk pass it whenever I stepped foot into a local retail. I did not like the idea of being locked down toВ GooglesВ services. I was on the verge of buying an inexpensive windows 8 machine, but even those were in the $400.00 price range. To my luck, after browsing Best Buys webpage, I saw two Chomebooks ranging from 200-249 dollars. When I realized how perfectly priced Chromebooks were, I finally gave Googles new line of laptops a fair shot.
When Im able to buy a fantastic little machine like this for $250.00, I dont have OCD with keeping itВ pristineВ and untouched. I, of course, value keeping my machines in working and clean order, but I remember owning the Macbook Air and having a case AND a sleeve. I remember slowing putting it into my laptop and arranging things in my bag so that the Macbook Air would not be scuffed in any way. I even remember after typing anything on the Mac, I was using a microfiber cloth to whip it down over and over. And while thats nice and all, it was only killing my time ofВ productivityВ Its different with the Chromebook. Heck, its so cheap that I feel like it compliments my books in my bag.
Now, keep in mind, I have used Windows and Macs hardcore for the lastIve lost count years, and the transition from the two to this was a breeze. (As it should be of course.)
Start Up Time
In short: damn, it is fast! Now, because the Chrome OS has the majority of its content online, the actual hardware of this laptop does not take more than five seconds to boot up completely. This is a huge benefit to me, personally. As a college student, I bought this Chromebook knowing that I would have those days where I am late to class. On those days, I NEED to pull out my laptop and just start typing. I dont have time to wait for a windows/apple logo for two minutes. And even my last Macbook Air, which I loved, did not boot up this fast. I love thisВ accessibilityВ because it keeps me in the mood to type and keep productive, as silly as that sounds.
Oh, shut down time? It is Already off. Yep, shut down time isВ instantaneousВ as well.
Now, to each their own of course. But personally, I enjoy the chiclet style keys. I find them responsive and in my few days of using this machine I have had zero keys get stuck. And I am coming from a 300.00 Happy HackingВ ProfessionalВ keyboard. The keyboard is very similar, if not the same, of that of the Macbook Air. On typeracer I am able to pound about 90 or so words a minute. For me, that is good enough! I cant complain about the size of the keyboard because a laptop that has a twelve inch screen can only fit in so much. But even with that in mind, I never found my hands to cramp, nor have I wished for a larger keyboard.
I absolutely love the shortcut keys. This is a huge pro for me because I find myself always having more than one page/window open. And it is soВ convenientВ to just move y left index finger up to strike the button to switch back and forth between the windows. It really FEELS efficient to do so. Now I did enjoy having the full screen mode on OSX Mountain Lion and using three fingers to swipe between applications, which felt fluent, but again, it feels more efficient, on the Chromebook, to click a button to change page. To me of course.
Another thing to note is the removal of theВ Cap locksВ key. That key is replaced with a short cut to your application/extension folder. In all of my years of typing, I hardly ever used theВ cap locksВ key because I found holding down the shift key for one stroke was more efficient. But again, to each their own.
Regarding the shortcut keys, my friend who also owns the Chromebook pointed out to me that the mute key only mutes. It does not un-mute, and while the volume up and down are only one key away, it feels unnatural to un-mute it with the volume up button.
A complaint of mine, which is only because I own a keyboard that cost as much as this laptop, is the fact that the keyboard easily gets oil spots. I do use the Chromebook on a daily basis but even with my short time with it, the oil spots are already deteriorating the keys. So definitely have a microfiber cloth with you at all times!
It is Okay. The size is perfect. The gestures are great. Two finger scrolling have never been so great.В SensitivityВ Dont worry they didnt forget about that. You can easily adjust theВ sensitivityВ in their settings menu.
There are two things however, that I am not the biggest fan of. The first being a personal preference: There is no dedicated right click. You have to use two fingers to right click and that is your only option. Now it doesnt like a huge deal, but it is. Consider how many times a day you use your right click. A million seven hundred and twelve right? It becomes a hassle when your doing a two finger scroll and then you land on a link you want to left click on. Because then you right click. Or viceВ verseВ you are constantly bouncing your fingers from two finger clicks to one finger clicks. I dont know about you but after I right click, I intend to open up another tab which involves me switching back to one finger. I know it sounds silly, but use the Chromebook for a week and you will understand what I mean. I have theВ tenancyВ to keep my fingers where they need to do. And that is the beauty of a mouse.
The second problem I have is an annoying hardware problem. The Trackpad gets stuck. Now, I am not the only one to have had this problem. If you do a quick Google search you will see that many others have had this problem. And my friend who also owns a Chromebook? Yep, hes dealing with the same issues. The trackpad gets stuck and if you try to browse another page prepare to have all of your text highlighted. I have to tap the tackpad multiple times on the opposite side before it pops back out. And this isnt from poor hygiene. My friend justВ receivedВ his the other day and he already mentioned the same problem to me.
Considering the Samsung Chromebook has an 11.6 screen and a resolution of 1366768, the Chromebook boast a pretty nice pixel density. The text, to me, was never hard to read and for the most part everything word and image was nice and crisp.
The display is matte/antiglare which may be a love or hate deal. However, as I have explained earlier, this machine was made for portability. And, personally, while I have been using this machine on the go, I have had to face a lot of sun light. And this is where the machine shines. (Err doesnt) The pictures taken do not give the screen just. Its no retina display, but it is nice and everything is legible in sunlight.
The Brightness of the screen is satisfying good as well. All in all, I love the display and I have no quirks.
Connecting it to an HDMI monitor works smooth as well. You might be surprised to find out that this machine, with budget hardware, can run a nice 1080p display without any ghosting or lag. (Unless of course you are running intense apps. Which you most likely wont find, YET, on the chromebook.) A video of the Chromebook being used on an HDMI monitor will be posted up soon.
Elegant to say the least. I dont need to say much about the design; it is nice simple and low key. The trackpad is large enough. The black keyboard on silver design always looks professional. I like it uh lot В And while the actual material of the laptop is mostly plastic, it feels sturdy. Everything is so compact that the actual design just feels, tighter if I could say.
The actual specifications measure at 11.4x 8.09x 0.69 weighing at 2.43lbs.
The weight is another huge plus of this Chromebook. I had never been concerned with the actual weight of a laptop if the actualВ dimensionsВ of it were to my liking. And Ive owned/packed with me, over a dozen of different laptops ranging in all sizes. But when you actually have a machine this light you really learn to appreciate it. No matter how much I have in myВ book bagВ this laptop will find its way in. And I would never have known that any weight was added to my back at all. And if you dont take my word for it, take my girlfriends, Whoa, its so light! В YES!
The speakers are decent. В I didnt expect much from a machine this thin. If you are in a quiet room alone and you put the volume on max, then you will think that it is loud. (Of course) It gets the job done. On more practical occasions, where you are in a public location with people talking around you, you will barely be able to hear anything. I personally pack my headphones where ever I go because if you are in a loudВ environment,В even the best laptop wont do any justice in the audio department.
Upon opening the machine, you are limited with the few Google services. (That are more or less quick links to the actual Google page) В I find this to be a pro. I feel as though, this machine was meant to do exactly that: To give you theВ accessibilityВ to type, browse the web, check emails and do other simple task. I do not feel a limitation. I actually feel as though there are less distractions to deal with. Which to me, is a huge plus.
If the applications you get at from first boot up isnt enough, you always have the Google app store to find plenty more.
The chrome OS was intended to be a means of running simple applications. And yes, it does that. But if you do run four or five applications at once, it tends to get cluttered and unorganized. There isnt a dedicated minimize tab. Instead you over over a box next to the X and it then gives you the option to set the window more to the right, more to the left, or to minimize. So when you have multiple tabs open you will find that your dock is currently changing and moving around. And for the most part your applications will be running behind the window and not minimized. Of course you can minimize whatever you want to, but it just becomes second hand to leave it open because you will rarely find that one window is overlapping another. This can either be a pro or con. At first I found this to be a pro because most of my windows were at my disposal and I could easily switch back and forth them to with the shortcut key. However, I later understood why it could be considered a con. I had to write a research paper the other night, and I wanted to have my note application over my chrome browser but it wouldnt allow it. Again, I could always switch back and forth, or I could set it to be on one side and the other on the other side, but I just find it easier to have my web page out and my window hovering over the web page for quickВ viewableВ access.
The beauty of Chrome. Everything auto saves! When Im typing notes, I never have to worry about anything be lost. If my machine died midtyping then I could rest assure knowing I have a copy of it saved to Google Drive. This is a huge plus but it could also be a down side. My partner and I are running and facilitating this website you are on. We want some information to be secure and out of publics hands. You cant always say that everything is secure with Google Drive.
I guess a negative to the positive that I just stated earlier is that because the machine is run my the internet, if you are doing any task, from typing to web browsing, and your internet is disrupted for a moment, all the applications, for the most part come to a hault. It gets frustrating from time to time. Say you are typing on Google docs and your internet connection is lost. You do not even have the option to continue typing. It just stops until you areВ successfullyВ reconnected to the internet. What I dont like is that if I am browsing on a webpage, and the internet connection is lost, and I reconnect to the internet the web page I was on has to reload. Even though I did not click any new links and even though the page was already fully loaded before.
I had originally wrote this section with mixed feelings. So here I am rewriting the same section.В The machine comes with an internal, yep if you want portability you have to sacrifice the option of switching out batteries, 4080mAh battery.В When I first unpacked this machined, I charged it fully and the battery stated that it was good for 7 hours.: Which it is advertised to run for about 6.3 hours. (We all know how accurate that is haha) But I was quite confident in theВ longevityВ of this machines battery life at first. I would type pages and pages of notes and every ten minutes or so I would check the batteryВ indicatorВ And to my surprise, itВ startedВ off at seven hours and dropped down accurate to its time usage. At that point, I figured I was getting a solid six hours of typing in. However; even with all of that in mind, I will consider the battery a con I have been using this machine for about two weeks now and now I realize my first impressions werent the most reliable. With about 75 percent brightness on and not doing much video browsing or music listening, I was usually able to get about 3 and a half 4 hours of battery. Which again, isnt terrible, but just a couple more hours of juice would have been perfect. Again, you may be able to stretch the battery longer, IE what I was talking about in the beginning paragraph, if you lower the brightness down to very low, and if you do absolutely nothing but type. (Which, from a machine of thisВ caliberВ is quite possible and is not to be looked down upon.) But in Samsungs defense, I guess you need to compromise battery if you want a really slim machine. If you are constantly streaming music and videos, be prepared to carry around the charger. I know some people always do so, but I feel as though having the charger around with you everywhere to ensure battery life takes away the idea of portability.
Lack of POWER?
I might sound a littleВ hypocriticalВ but I am reviewing this machine with the thought that people may buy this machine for more activities than I do myself. As far as power go, it is no surprise, that the machine isВ under powered. I am notВ discreditingВ the Chromebook in anyway. However, from experience, I have noticed a lot of hick-ups when I am viewing Youtube videos, or any video that requires flash. Again, you cant expect to have it all for a machine that comes at you for 250 bucks.
UPDATE: I have been using this month for about a month now and I have pushed this machine to its limits. (That doesnt say too much) Keep in mind, I rarely watch any videos or listen to music on this machine. And if I do, I for sure do not do so while multitasking. That being said, while I am multitasking (Google chat open, notes open, web browser with four or five tabs open) Then the machine does lag considerably. I am not taking for granted that this fine machinery was purchased for 250.00s but I am reporting that if you intend to run open a lot of tabs, and use notes with a lot of saved files to Google drive, yourВ ChromebookВ will start to lag. This is become every page on theВ ChromebookВ is live and connected to the internet. So if you have five tabs open in your notes application, then five tabs will be refreshing andВ auto saving.
Connecting the machine to an HDMI monitor is simple as plug and play. My friend uses monitor, review of that is up, and it runsВ relativelyВ smooth.
I will not put this under either a pro or con because it should be obvious that this machine runs on Google services. However, it does feel like you are locked down to it. Signing into your Chromebook actually translates to signing into your Gmail. Of course the alternative would be to log in as a guest. Again, not a negative or positive, it is just something to consider when purchasing a Chromebook.
The Machine has two USB ports, one being the almighty blue 3.0! It has a headphone jack, a pretty decent webcam, as well as an SD card reader. And finally it has a mini HDMI port which some people may find extremely useful.
The webcam, is a 0.3mp camera but it is actually pretty good. Not amazing but I have used laptops that cost a lot more which webcams that makes my face look like a fuzzy ball. At least here I can see my teeth right? The webcam app however, informed by my partner Set, is notВ re-sizableВ The actual picture size you see using the webcam is what you get. It doesntВ re size. That can get a bit frustrating.
I put heat underВ miscellaneousВ because my partner also purchased the Chromebook and he has noticed some heat issues with the machine. В My machine, as stated above, runsВ relativelyВ cool. So this is just a heads up on something to consider when you are making this purchase.
IS IT WORTH IT?
Overall, I think this is a GREAT budget machine and I will give it a 4 star. For 250.00 this opens up the potential for a lot of people to try it out. And once you get used to the machine, youll realize what the intended purpose of it and this Samsung Chromebook does exactly that. Of course the machine isnt perfect, with itsВ click padВ issues. But I think for the price, theВ click padВ issues and all of my piled gripes could be overlooked. I hope this machine is a clear path of what Chromebooks are trying to accomplish. Because if the next generation of chromebooks are affordable then I may have to consider purchasing another.
UPDATE: Pixel is out.1300 bucks. Yep its time to go back to Mac. Haha, joking of course.
Thanks for reading this review, we will have more to come! But for now, Im going to enjoy this Chromebook some more!
And Let us know what you think, by posting a comment below. Any questions will be answered immediately and any errors that you think I have made will be fixed with a shout out to you of course! Thanks again my fellow tech heads!
Its sleek, quiet, fast, but most importantly Its cheap! But does $250.00 really give you the complete package?В