The Samsung Series 5 ChromeBook is the first netbook alternative on the market to use the Google Chrome operating system rather than a more traditional OS like Windows. Based in no small part on the Google Cr-48 prototype notebook that we previously reviewed, this 12-inch thin and light laptop offers two years of free Verizon 3G access for the one-time purchase price of $500. Is this a good deal or is the ChromeBook just "a web browser in a box?"
Samsung Series 5 ChromeBook Technical Specs:
Build and Design
If you've already seen our review of the Google Cr-48 prototype then the overall design and technical specs of the Samsung Series 5 ChromeBook should look very familiar. In truth, it appears as though Samsung engineers did little more than add a few rounded corners and change a few ports on the Google Cr-48.
To that end, the design of the ChromeBook is sort of a hybrid between consumer laptop and low-cost business laptop. You get a traditional clamshell shape with lots of straight lines and rounded corners. Open the glossy lid and you'll see a more modern looking Chiclet-style keyboard and a MacBook-esque touchpad both covered in a "we mean business" matte finish.
The screen lid on our review unit features a glossy "Arctic White" paint job with both Samsung and Google Chrome logos on the left side. Samsung also offers the ChromeBook with a "Titan Silver" finish in case white doesn't look professional enough for you. The lid provides adequate protection but it flexes quite noticeably under heavy pressure. The bottom of the notebook is a basic semi-gloss black plastic chassis that is prone to showing fingerprints and smudges. A quick view of the bottom of the ChromeBook reveals no access plates and no removable battery. The chassis feels pretty durable for a low-cost 12-inch laptop, but you'll hear a few plastic squeaks and creaks if you squeeze the palm rests and twist slightly.
Although I generally like the design of the Series 5 ChromeBook, I'm not sure how potential customers will respond. The ChromeBook is a little too large to fit the mold of the typical 10-inch or 11-inch netbook, but the ChromeBook lacks the performance (more on this later) of larger "notebooks" what share similar exterior dimensions. I suppose only time will tell if consumers and businesses think a Google-enhanced netbook with Verizon 3G access is worth $500.
Ports and Features
The relatively clean exterior of the Series 5 ChromeBook to the port selection on the sides of the laptop. Samsung gives you a proprietary mini VGA port for connecting an external monitor (an adapter for a standard VGA port is included in the box), two USB 2.0 ports, a built-in SD/SDHC/SDXC memory card reader, and a single audio jack. There is also a hidden SIM card slot on the right side of the notebook if you have an existing 3G service plan. The lack of Bluetooth is frustrating, but it's something most people can live without when you're getting a $500 laptop with free Verizon 3G access. Here is a quick tour around the ChromeBook (all descriptions are left to right).
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