- Exceptional typing experience
- Very quiet and stays cool
- Good battery life
- Slow performance
- Poor display color and contrast
Quick TakeLow maintenance users looking to a basic machine to check email, browse the web, and do light work will find the Samsung Chromebook 2 a good value.
Samsung’s Chromebook 2 is the company’s latest attempt at joining the Chromebook crowd, and it built another portable machine with a long-lasting battery and some performance issues. We reviewed the 13-inch model, which has a sophisticated design, and strong build. The device is capable of providing a basic computing experience while on the go, but power users will be disappointed in the performance.
Build & Design
The Samsung Chromebook 2 has a gray plastic exterior with a faux leather cover that gives the device a sophisticated look and makes it easy to grip. The cover boasts both Samsung and Google Chrome logos. The notebook has a similar sleek grey chassis that hides fingerprints well. The 13-inch model is just 0.65 inches thick and weighs 3 pounds, while the 11-inch model weighs in at 2.65 pounds, making it easy to carry for long periods of time.
Two hands are needed to open the cover, as the hinges are tight and a strong hand is needed to adjust the angle of the display.
The screen lid flexes under strong pressure and noticeable rippling on the display occurs, particularly around the edges. The display is also subject to some flex when twisted, but the chassis stands up well to strong pressure and doesn’t give when ample force is applied.
Overall the device holds up well to the normal wear and tear of regular travel as long as the screen lid isn’t put through too much abuse.
Input & Output Ports
The Chromebook 2 has a standard HDMI port, one USB 2.0 port, one USB 3.0 port, a headphone/mic combo jack, and a microSD card slot. As with most Chromebooks, there isn’t much to talk about here because this class of device doesn’t typically offer a great port selection. That being said, we would have liked to see a standard SD card slot on this model.
Screen & Speakers
The Chromebook 2 has an LED backlit HD display with 1366×768 resolution and a 16:9 aspect ratio on the 13-inch model. Text is often difficult to read, especially when scrolling through a large quantity of text like a Twitter feed in full-screen mode. However, the aspect ratio makes it easy to multitask, with “good enough” resolution for two browser windows to be open side by side. The anti-reflective panel works well, with limited glare even in bright sunlight. Brightness levels are good and the notebook is easy to use in the dark without being blinding.
Color reproduction is “okay,” but the display isn’t as vibrant as many notebooks these days. Colors are washed out a bit; the blacks look more like grey. Whites are still crisp but can blend into some colors like red and blue that is a bit dull. Viewing angles are rather narrow with a small window on either end in which the display isn’t distorted. Users will have better luck when tilting the display back rather than forward, where colors are quickly washed out and a glare is picked up from the chassis.
The Chromebook 2 has two speakers that produce enough sound to fill a small, quiet room. Audio quality is high with no harsh distortion when sound is turned all the way up. The headphone jack produces sound that is more than sufficient for casual use. There is no distortion at the highest volume here either. The device has a noise reducing array microphone, which works well when video chatting in a louder atmosphere. It easily blocks out background noises such as a television show or passing traffic.
Keyboard & Touchpad
A traditional QWERTY keyboard provides an exceptional typing experience. The keyboard support is strong and there is no give or flex when typing. The keys have a rubberized texture and the spacing makes it easy for users to navigate around. There is an audible clicking when typing, but the noise is not loud enough to be distracting in a quiet environment. There’s no backlight so it’s a bit difficult to spot specialty keys, although it’s not as much of an issue once you’re familiar with the layout.
The touchpad is slightly sunk into the chassis with the same grey finish. It has a thin chrome strip marking its outline, making it easy to tell where the touchpad begins and ends. It’s fairly sizable compared to the keyboard and sits centered under the spacebar. Spacing of the touchpad was well thought out and is far enough away from the keyboard that users don’t accidentally hit it with their palms. The touchpad itself is smooth and very responsive.
There are no dedicated mouse keys on the touchpad. A one-finger click initiates a left click and a two-finger click for a right click function. Users can either tap on the touchpad or click down to make a command. The click is rather loud however, so in a quiet environment, using the tapping motion is likely a better option. We didn’t encounter any issues with the touchpad reading commands.