Screen and Speakers
The Samsung Series 5 uses a VERY nice 12.1-inch anti-glare display with a 16:10 aspect ratio. The 1280 x 800 resolution gives you a few extra lines of vertical resolution and a less horizontal resolution compared to most modern notebooks with 1366 x 768 screens. Regardless of whether you support modern widescreen notebooks with 16:9 ratio screens or love the old 16:10 displays, the single best thing about the screen the ChromeBook is that it’s NOT a glossy screen!
The matte, anti-glare surface of the 12-inch display allows you to see what’s on the screen even if you’re viewing in under direct sunlight or you’re in an office or home environment with bright lights directly behind you. Try that with a typical glossy screen notebook and all you’ll see are reflections.
The viewing angles are quite good on the ChromeBook we used with minimal backlight bleed around the edge of the screen. Just like the Google Cr-48 prototype, the default colors on our review sample looked a little biased toward blue (although the photo of the notebook taken under our studio lighting makes this minor color shift look more intense than it is in real life). Overall, this is a very nice screen.
Keyboard and Touchpad
The Series 5 ChromeBook uses essentially the same modern-looking Chiclet style or island style keyboard used on the Cr-48. The flat individual keys have a matte texture with a little extra space between each key to help prevent typos. Each key provides the perfect feedback with excellent depth to each press and smooth action to each key mechanism. The entire keyboard surface has a firm support structure so there’s no flex or bounce while typing even under extreme pressure.
The only problem I personally have with the keyboard is that several of the traditional keys have not-so-traditional functions. For example, all of the function keys control specific features like forward, back, and refresh or they control notebook features like screen brightness and volume. The bigger problem for me is that the default setting for the Caps Lock key has been turned into a “Search” key. I know most people don’t care about Caps Lock but I often use that key when typing. I also fail to understand the need for a dedicated search button when the Google Chrome browser has a built-in search functionality in the address bar.
You can adjust the keyboard settings and turn the search key into a standard Caps Lock key … but changing the function of the buttons is not intuitive.
The multi-touch, gesture-enabled touchpad on the ChromeBook uses integrated touchpad buttons located under the left and right bottom corners of the touchpad surface. Once again, the matte texture comes to the rescue making it easy to slide your fingers across the surface and control cursor movement on the screen with minimal lag. Since the keyboard was pushed back close to the screen hinge there is plenty of room left on the notebook for a large touchpad and that is what you get here.