Samsung Chromebook Review: Nice 2nd Computer for Web Users

Can anyone get a Samsung Chromebook as their only computer? People on a tight budget might, if they only need something to get online. Others will like using it as their secondary Internet browsing computer. We could see students even using it full time at schools that use Google Apps.

  • Great battery life
  • Comfortable keyboard
  • Large trackpad for an ultraportable
  • ChromeOS simple to use
  • Easy to sign into account and it shows user content
  • Matte display doesn’t reflect light
  • Dim display
  • Cheap plastic construction
  • Can only install web apps
  • USB ports difficult to insert and remove devices
  • VGA output requires a dongle
  • Strange trackpad behavior when plugged into some outlets

There aren’t too many $250 computers that will satisfy all their needs. We recommend that potential buyers install the Chrome browser and use the web apps available in the Chrome Web Store before handing over their cash.

samsung chromebook review

The Samsung Chromebook serves well as a 2nd laptop.

The Chromebook Philosophy

Google made the ChromeOS for people who only need a browser. The operating system becomes secondary to the browser. Web Apps do all the heavy lifting and Google likes it becasue the more we get online, the more money they make from ads all over the Internet.

ChromeOS Interface

The ChromeOS user interface offers simple design and users log in on any machine and settings/apps show up.

Install webapps and store files online in Google Drive. Log into any ChromeOS with user credentials and it populates the device with their apps, settings and documents. This makes switching computers easy and erasing a machine to start over simple enough for any one.

Samsung Chromebook Humble Hardware Specs

Samsung Chromebook back

No one will mistake the Samsung Chromebook and its 1.7GHz Exynos processor for a high-end computer unless they’re standing across the room. From a distance it gives off a MacBook Air vibe thanks to the thin silver chassis and black chiclet style keys.

Close up the Samsung Chromebook exudes low-end. The plastic feels cheap and flimsy. It even snapped apart when we dropped it from only a foot onto a carpet inside a padded case.

ChromeOS doesn’t need high-end specs. The Samsung Chromebook comes with only 2GB of memory and 16GB of fast SSD storage to hold the OS and the few files one needs locally. Users get 100GB of Google Drive storage for two years, pluys 12 GoGo Internet sessions while flying.

Samsung Chromebook Keyboard and Trackpad

samsung chromebook trackad and keyboard shines

The Samsung Chromebook trackpad and keyboard shines.

The Chromebook sports a comfortable keyboard and better than average trackpad.

Samsung Chromebook Display

Samsung Chromebook Display

The matte finish suffers from dim lighting and poor text quality.

The 11.6″ display comes with a 1366×768 resolution, pretty good for the size screen. We like the matte finish on the display that doesn’t reflect light, a must considering how dim it looks. Text doesn’t look s crisp as we’d like.

Ports and Connections

Samsung Chromebook SD Card and Audio port

The Samsung Chromebook comes with an SD card reader and an audio port.

Along the left side we get an SD card port and a 3.5mm stereo port that functions as a mic and headset connector. Put a headphone or ear buds with a mic in for audio in and out.

Samsung Chromebook ports

The Samsung Chromebook ports include power jack, HDMI output, USB 2.0 and USB 3.0 plus an SD card on the side.

The rest of the ports and connections sit on the back edge of the system. The USB 3.0 and USB 2.0 ports, one of each, sit at a strange angle, making it hard to insert or remove devices. We get HDMI out and an SD card slot, but no VGA without a dongle sold separately.

samsung chromebook usim card slot is disabled

The Samsung Chromebook includes a universal SIM card slot but its disabled on this model.

Networking and Wireless Connectivity

Along the back we also find a universal SIM card port, but its disabled on this model. The 3G version of the computer costs $80 more and includes 2 years of Verizon 3G service offering only 100MB per month, enough to check some email and little more.

samsung chromebook bottom view

We also get 802.11 a/b/g/n Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 3.0, but no wired Ethernet.

samsung chromebook side view

Battery Life and Charging

Samsung promises over 6.5 hours of battery, a pretty accurate measure when reducing screen brightness to below 70 percent. At full brightness it lasted well over five hours.

We experienced one strange issue that others also experienced. The trackpad jumps around and behaves erratically when plugged into certain power outlets. Changing outlets usually fixes it. We seldom used it plugged in, so it only affected our usage on occasion.

Web Apps

ChromeOS won’t let anyone install software, but the web apps available in the Chrome Web Store offer enough variety that we could find acceptable alternatives. Google provides links to their Google Apps like Google Docs, Drive, Calendar and Gmail. They also let users do Google+ Hangouts and  Maps. They offer an offline version of GMail and Docs works offline letting users sync their documents, spreadsheets and presentation the next time they connect.

chromeos webapps

The ChromeOS web apps offer an interesting collection of software alternatives.

Gamers will not like ChromeOS. There’s plenty for casual games, however. Even creatives can do some photo, video and sound editing. Search the Chrome Web Store and find a lot of interesting apps and extensions.

Here’s a list of alternative apps from the Chrome Web Store:


Who will enjoy a Samsung Chromebook? People with simple online needs that want an ultra-portable machine for a bargain cost. Of the Chromebooks now available, the Samsung Chromebook hits the sweet spot. The Acer Chromebook looks too barebones and the Chromebook Pixel looks like overkill for a web only machine. A few others make them, but none look and feel as good as the Samsung Chromebook.

For people who take the leap, look around online and find one for under $230. Make sure the vendor will take it back if the Chromebook philosophy doesn’t fit the buyer’s lifestyle.

Samsung Chromebook Specs

  • 11.6″ screen with 1366×768 resolution with matte finish
  • Samsung 1.7GHz Exynos 5 dual core processor
  • 2GB of memory
  • 16GB SSD storage
  • 802.11 a/b/g/n wireless
  • Bluetooth 3.0
  • Ports: 1 USB 3.0, 1 USB 2.0, 1 HDMI
  • SD card reader
  • Dual stereo mic/headphone port
  • VBA webcame
  • 2-cell 30Wh battery running for over 6.5 hours
  • 2.4lbs
  • 289.6 x 208.5 x 17.5 mm
  • 100GB of free Google Drive storage for 2 years
  • 12 free GoGo Inflight Internet sessions

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