The Chromebook Series 5 is Samsung’s first netbook that will be running on Google’s much-awaited Chrome OS. The netbook has been designed based on the premise of a computer that would perpetually be connected to the internet while switching-on almost instantly and has a very long battery life to allow users connectivity on the go. Here are some of the key features of this device:
Build and Build Quality
The ideal netbook would be one which fits in nicely in the niche between laptops and tablets in terms of size, weight and portability. The Chromebook gets off slightly on the wrong note here, because it veers towards the laptop end with a weight of around 3.26 pounds despite having only a 12.1 inch screen and not all that much hardware inside. The design otherwise oozes class. The cover is white with the colorful Chrome logo in metal at the bottom left. This continues on the inside, with the rubberized plastic giving off a carbon fiber vibe and generally being nice to the touch. This continues to the keyboard, which is responsive, has keys that are well space-out and yet solid. It’s got 2 points, one for the charging plug and the other the 3.5 mm headphone jack as well as 5 ports, which include 2 USB 2.0 ports, a dev slot, sim card slot and a video-out port. The lack of an HDMI port is disappointing though.
The Chromebook replaces the function keys directly with multimedia keys like volume control and some others like refresh and toggling between windows. This does raise convenience but compromises on some of the functionality that the traditional function keys used to provide. As for the touchpad, it faces issues with recognizing the kind of clicks like most trackpads without buttons, but otherwise functionalities like scrolling work properly.
Display and Audio
The matte screen has a resolution of 1280×800 pixels and the brightness and especially the viewing angles are very good both for a netbook and for a device at this price. The good display capability continues under direct sunlight, even when viewing angles aren’t perfect. The audio is predictably not very good and the user is very likely to have to use that 3.5 mm jack to make full use of the display. The netbook also houses a 1 megapixel camera.
The Samsung Chromebook Series 5 is the first netbook that runs the Chrome OS that has been developed by Google. The design of the Operating System is much like the Chrome browser by Google too. You’re firstly required to sign in with your Google account, so all of your Google details are carried to the OS itself, making the entire experience of using the netbook very personal. Next up is the key feature of this laptop, the instant-on feature that reduces boot times to almost non-existent. This is possible due to lack of local storage on the netbook. New tabs resemble smartphone icons which also show some like Gmail, Calendar and YouTube. The shortcut to the Web Store allows you to buy apps that are specifically designed for the Chrome OS. While there aren’t many apps available yet, most of what you’ll need is already available. However, services like Netflix aren’t available for the Chrome OS yet while apps like Skype face other problems that don’t allow it to work. This is slightly disappointing
The internal hardware specifications are where the Chromebook really starts to look like a netbook instead of a laptop, which really isn’t the best thing for it in the context of other issues. It features a 1.66 GHz Intel Atom N570 processor with 2 GB of RAM and integrated Intel graphics. Those specifications allow the netbook to perform its primary function, that is, net browsing, with ease, but ask for anything beyond that and you’re likely to come away disappointed.
Battery life is again one of the major features that has been highlighted as the Chromebook’s selling point, and for once the Chromebook lives up to all expectations. The battery is expected to last for nearly nine hours of constant use according to makers Samsung with battery loss during standby being almost non-existent. The amount of charging that the battery needs to get back to full levels is slightly worrying with an average rate of 1% for every 2 minutes, but with that sort of battery life you really won’t be needing to charge it that often anyway.
Chromebooks with their lack of local storage and instead complete focus on cloud storage might be the future, but Samsung’s Chromebook Series 5 won’t be the one to lead them to it. The functionality in the Chrome OS is currently very limited, and while subsequent updates including offline support are expected soon, it might be too late for this Chromebook by then. The pricing at $429 doesn’t help, because most netbooks are cheaper and really for the functionality that this one offers, you’d expect this device to be priced significantly lower as well. The hardware is for the most part fine and Samsung’s done its job well, it’s when it comes to Google’s Chrome OS that the device starts to slip. All in all, using the Chromebook currently is equivalent to having only the Chrome browser to work with, and while some users might be able to work with that, the majority won’t be able to. And that is where the Samsung Chromebook Series 5 fails.