822 of 858 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Chromebooks Go Production
I've been testing the prototype Cr-48 since February. I expected to just use the device for a few weeks and then go back to my desktop system. But instead I changed a few of my habits and stayed with it ever since. There is very little difference between the Cr-48 and the production Samsung. Size is about the same, keyboard almost identical. Cr-48 was coated with a...
Published on June 16, 2011 by Amazon Customer
196 of 217 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good First Try
Battery Life- this outshines my Sony machine. With the sony I can last about 2.5-3 hours. on this machine I can get over eight hours, a huge plus!
Cloud- it is very nice to have work synced up with my main Sony machine. This is of course if you are comfortable using Google's web applications. I would make sure not to utilize the cloud for any sensitive...
Published on June 24, 2011 by Chris Macias
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822 of 858 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Chromebooks Go Production,
I've been testing the prototype Cr-48 since February. I expected to just use the device for a few weeks and then go back to my desktop system. But instead I changed a few of my habits and stayed with it ever since. There is very little difference between the Cr-48 and the production Samsung. Size is about the same, keyboard almost identical. Cr-48 was coated with a rubbery material that you either like or hate. Samsung is more traditional glossy plastic.
Both machines have very bright and crisp displays in a wide format. The screen itself is of the traditional non-glare type. I can't imagine why anyone would want a screen with glare but I notice many new systems come that way. I guess if you work in a totally dark room the glossy screens are fine. The second version of the Chromebook from Acer is said to have a glossy screen for anyone that wants that.
I'll second what others said that this machine is not for everyone. If you a big user of Apple products and happy with their "roadmap" to the future, stay with them. If you need all the specialized software that only runs on Windows, then you'd better stay there too.
But... If you are tired of running virus scanners, clean-up utilities, disk defragmenters, firewalls, and tired of having to ask a relative or neighbor to get your machine working again (or worse having to pay someone to do it) then cloud-based computing may be for you.
Chrome OS is a slimmed down (very) version of Linux that boots in 8 seconds and awakes from sleep almost instantly. There is no desktop, so the graphical interface is the Chrome web browser which takes up the whole screen as soon as you log-on to the machine. There are some "hidden" aspects to this OS, but you can only get to them by flipping a special switch for those who like to experiment, and the machine keeps track of the fact that you have done this. Security experts know that no system is safe if you grant physical access to an attacker, but the Chrome notebook does everything it can to protect your locally stored information (even though there isn't much of that). Each user must log into the machine and that causes his and only his files to become unencrypted for use. Signing off causes those files to be encrypted again. But very little data is stored on the machine anyway and the entire solid state "disk" is only 16 gig, so pack-rats need not apply. The idea is that you store all your documents in the cloud (you are not limited to using Google products to do this of course). While you *can* download files, typically you do so simply to turn around and upload them somewhere else. You can display photos and play MP3 and MP4 files locally but that is about it (for now anyway). In addition to the SSD space you can store local files on a USB stick or memory card (as used in cameras). Theoretically files you store on the SSD drive will get erased automatically after a while (like a month, though I haven't seen this happen yet). So if you feel you just HAVE to have some files to carry around with you, a 16G USB stick is probably advisable.
If you want to let a friend use the machine, just sign off and they can use "Guest mode" and your stuff will be safe, no matter what they do. Also anything they do will get erased when they are done. If someone else will be using he machine regularly they can also sign in with a Google ID rather than using Guest mode and their files and yours will be kept isolated from one another.
I'm not sure what it is I like about this keyboard as it mostly resembles other "island keyboards" but I bang pretty hard on the keys and they usually register without too many mistakes. I don't feel that I am in danger of breaking the thing as is the case with many new notebooks or keyboards. The mousepad as others have mentioned is HUGE. I am not a big fan of mousepads so even with a notebooks I tend to carry a mouse with me. I recently went visiting needed to use the mousepad for a while though and found it acceptable. I'd say a cut below the Apple mouspads, but not by much. Remember that most of what you get from a mousepad is done in software, not hardware. When the Cr-48s came out there were lots of complaints about the mousepads being almost unusable, but with each new release of the OS things got better and I'm sure that will continue.
With Chrome OS being a young product so far there is still room for improvement, but the improvements are coming fairly regularly and they are totally non-disruptive, downloading in the background and automatically activating the next time you boot. Even that first boot after update doesn't seem to take longer as with some OSs.
There are three "Channels" for updates: Stable, Beta, and Dev(eloper) depending on how risk averse you are. There is also a USB stick based recovery procedure should your machine get "hosed" which can happen on the developer channel or when playing with the developer switch.
Why is there a developers switch? Well, security is a big goal of Chrome OS. There are no virus scanners needed, but the OS does do a self-check during those 8 seconds it is booting up, and when your files are decrypted they are check for tampering as well. The developers switch bypasses some of this paranoia, and also gives you access to additional parts of the file system that are normally off-limits. In addition you are given access to a more complete set of Linux/Unix commands some of which could get you into trouble. People have run other version of Linux, Windows and even the Apple OS on Chromebooks by flipping the developer switch, but then that is rather missing the point of a machine that is designed specifically for cloud-based computing. On the other hand, if you have been keeping your stuff in the cloud, and happen to trash your system while on the road, getting it going again doesn't take too long or involve too many steps (and I suspect might eventually only entail pressing a reset button or something).
Finally, on communications, WiFi set-up is as easy or easier than Windows or Apple machines I've used. Previous connections are memorized by default. All the protocols up to and including "n" "just work". In a pinch you can tap into the 100M of free Verizon wireless 3G coverage. In a real pinch they have various for-pay coverage after that. I've tried it just long enough to know that it works. On a trip I can imagine tapping into the "unlimited" plan for a day at a time between WiFi enabled hotels.
Cons: (1) I wouldn't have minded a wired Internet option as well, but with notebooks getting thinner and thinner it would probably be hard to squeeze the connector in there. So far the "n" version of WiFi maxes out my router's speed anyway. (2) Only VGA connectivity to external monitors... else I might be tempted to use this as a desktop machine with a larger monitor. If there is indeed a Samsung "mini" desktop system waiting in the wings that will probably be a better way to go anyway (and might well be significantly cheaper than a laptop). (3) There is a way to go for "apps" for this ecosystem. there are advanced applications that demonstrate what *can* be done such as music composition, technical drawings, photo editing (and of course Google Docs which handles normal office needs) but almost everyone will run into situations that require a "legacy" system to handle. For example, you currently have to use a special set-up on a Windows or Apple machine to print, unless you have one of the very new "e-printers" that have an e-mail address associated with them and support their own network connection. If the Google "roadmap" holds steady I fully expect these issue to be addressed in the not too distant future.
In the mean time, I'm sitting comfortably here on my couch with my Chromebook, and not tempted to sit at the desk where I have a "more powerful" system. Come to think of it, I have more power in the cloud than I could ever afford at home. With proper interfaces, everything I could need.
428 of 456 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing product!,
I am very happy with my Samsung Chromebook. I had been looking for a computer that was fast, easy to use and did not keep breaking down so when Google announced the Chromebook Pilot program I signed up and got the CR-48. I really liked my CR-48 and therefore bought the Samsung Chromebook with 3G at the Gilt flash sale. I've had it now for a few days and am very happy with it.
The Samsung Chromebook is very light weight and portable; and I like its clean looks and solid finish. The keyboard is amazing and the trackpad is HUGE. It also feels a lot faster than the CR-48. The software on the CR-48 kept improving and getting better in the 6 months I had it and it feels like its gotten even better on the Samsung Series 5. There's now a file manager and a media player and it is super easy to upload photos to Picasa. And ofcourse it has Chrome which is fast.
The setup was ridiculously simple. As soon as I logged in all my apps, bookmarks and settings came in and it felt like I was back on my old computer. In all I think I went from closed box to fully ready in a couple of minutes. This was truly amazing. All the other benefits of the CR-48: the fast boot, quick resume and built in 3G are all there in this Chromebook.
I would recommend a Chromebook to anyone; but when people ask me if this is right for them this is what I say: it's great if you primarily use a laptop/ notebook for your personal stuff which, at least for me, is almost all web-based - gmail, facebook, amazon, youtube, google docs. For 'work' I use design software (Adobe CS5, Autocad, etc) that needs serious processing power and a large screen; and thus I use a high-end laptop, but that means it's heavy and cumbersome. The Chromebook is my personal computer and it works perfectly for that purpose - we leave it lying around the house and pick it up whenever we need to do something that is not work related. It also helps that its battery life is phenomenal. When my parents (NOT tech-savvy) were over they also used the CR-48 a lot and it worked great for them. I plan to get a new Chromebook for them too. So if you want a notebook for personal use that works fast, is reliable and inexpensive, get this one.
208 of 220 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Samsung Chromebook: First Impressions,
I've removed a star from the previous 5 stars because I had to recently send my Chromebook back to Samsung when the battery quit working. It absolutely refused to take a charge. I suspect the battery is not the problem, but either a software or hardware glitch is responsible, and the Chromebook forum's recommended action to remove the battery can't work as this battery is embedded in this model.
I hope this isn't symptomatic of a poor design standard from Samsung. I used to really like Samsung, but I've been having more and more problems with their products as of late. My father's three year old $3K+ 54-inch plasma screen went out and we ended up replacing it with a new Sharp LCD-- which cost much less than fixing the Samsung. Let's hope Samsung gets their product quality back up to where it once was.
FWIW, I still very much enjoy using it and believe the concept to be excellent!
Recently, I purchased this Samsung Series 5 Arctic White 3G Model Chromebook. For those of you who don't know, Chromebook is a notebook computer which runs Google's Chrome OS and is for the most part just a Chrome browser in a notebook. I know, it sounds rather simple and not very exciting. But, knowing how much I depend on Google for business and after doing a bit of research, I became interested enough in it to purchase one and try it out. Here's what I now think of it after using it for three days.
Early impressions are extremely positive. It has many of the features I really like of the iPad while also retaining much of the functionality I like in netbooks. I should mention, I run a virtual company and we pretty much run on Google Apps, including accessing email in Gmail, creating and editing documentation in Google Docs, and with most spreadsheet work done using Google Spreadsheet. We aso like Google Presentations as a collaborative tool for creating slide presentations. We use many online tools, including Basecamp, Freshbooks, Quicken Online, Dropbox, FogBugz among others. So, it's fair to say, we do a whole lot of computing already 'in the cloud.'
The implementation of the Chrome browser is great. It looks and behaves exactly the same on Windows and MacOS, which was a bit of a surprise to me seeing how it's based on a Linux kernel. When I first logged in, the Chrome browser already had all my bookmarks and personal preferences setup as I had on my other Chrome installs (PC and Mac), which was a nice surprise. In fact, install should have been a snap, but a forced ChromeOS update hung a couple times, forcing me to hard restart, but it finally hooked up. I'm not sure, it may be an issue with my bandwidth, ISP, or even the Google Chrome update servers seeing I got mine as fast as possible, along with, I'm sure, MANY MANY others.
The Samsung Chromebook is a bit larger than netbook computers, but smaller than most notebooks. The keyboard is easy to use. It's fairly light for a notebook but still weighs twice the iPad2. The Chromebook display is much higher resolution at 1280 x 800 vs the iPad's 1024 x 768 and the Chromebook has a whopping 2GB of memory versus the iPad2's wimpy 512MB (iPad 1 is only 256MB). Both iPad and Chromebook use solid state drives, with the iPad having three configurations to choose from: 16GB, 32GB and 64GB. This Chromebook only has 16GB, but does have an SSD slot along with a couple of USB ports where you can add more memory. Because the Chromebook focusses on connecting to the Internet and storage in the cloud, I don't see lack of local storage as a significant detractor.
Chromebooks can be purchased from $349 to $499 (this one), the topend being a bit more expensive than one might expect. I think this price may come down as more of them are sold, still they are quite competitive when priced against current tablet models including iPad.
Extremely long battery life. No kidding. Reportedly it can run continuously for 8 hours. I've not had to recharge any more than once per day-- just like my cell phone and iPad. I also have Sony Vaio and MacBook Air laptops, and neither get even close to iPad or Chromebook in battery life.
Instant on. And instant connection to wireless. My Chromebook takes 8 seconds to boot-- from a cold start. Closing the lid puts it to sleep and it resumes from sleep instantaneously, much like my AirBook. But unlike my AirBook and more like the iPad, the wireless connection seems to be instantly connected. I've set mine to force a password login from sleep mode, something I would encourage anyone to do who owns a Chromebook or iPad.
3G so I can connect anywhere. Combined with extreme battery life, this is one of the most valuable features of this particular model. Furthermore, Verizon gives away free 100MB of transfer per month for the first two years of ownership. I used to think having a wifi hotspot was just as good, and I do have one of those as well, but my good friend convinced me otherwise after seeing him pull out his 3G iPad, check his email and put it away in 30 seconds. The darn wifi hotspot takes over two minutes just to boot, not to mention having to connect it to a laptop, iPad or iPhone. As such, I'd never use it to quickly check an email or Google an address.
No auto-correction, it's replaced by good spellchecking. I find when I send emails on the iPad, I have to constantly check to see what iOS has automatically corrected and changed. I know I can turn it off, but sometimes it does come in handy, just not always. It's SO MUCH EASIER TO TYPE emails on a Chromebook than on an iPad-- and this is one of the reasons folks like my business partner, an extreme typist, may prefer a Chromebook over iPad as an Everday Portable Computing Device (EPCD).
Large trackpad with MacOS type functionality. I do admit, I mostly prefer Apple's implementation of trackpads. Two-finger scrolling and a physical click directly on the trackpad help make it easy to use. Still, dragging and dropping is somewhat difficult, just like on my MacBook Air, which IMO is better done with two fingers on opposite hands. The feel of the trackpad is very smooth and works as well as on Mac devices.
Keyboard modifications make it actually easier to use. There's no caps lock key, which surprisingly to me, is not missed at all-- in fact, it's better because I don't accidently hit it when typing. It is replaced by a search key which opens a new browser tab and highlights the URL field. If you really want CAPS LOCK back, you can choose to do so in Chromebook settings. Also, the mostly useless function keys on other keyboards are replaced by much more useful keys like: forward, backward, refresh, full screen, show next window, brightness and audio volume buttons. Much better.
Printing is easy to setup and just works. I was able to easily setup my Epson wired and HP wireless printers to work with the wireless Google Cloud Printing. I was a bit concerned this would be an issue, but it turns out it just worked-- not as seamlessly as Apple's AirPrint, but easy nonetheless.
Multi-user accounts make this a family computer. As I mentioned before, I'm all setup on Google Apps, and so is my wife and daughter. Because I don't need to worry about viruses on the Chromebook, or any files getting damaged or lost as they're stored in the cloud, I can easily lend my Chromebook to my wife and daughter for them to use. They each use their existing Gmail account sign on and then they're good to go. So, if my wife goes out of town, she can take the Chromebook with her to check emails, bank balances, etc. and it's more secure because of the 3G access (We all know those wireless access points are not always very trustworthy!).
Lost or damaged Chromebooks aren't as expensive as one might first imagine. The first thing I think about after spilling Red Bull on my notebook keyboard and watching the screen fritz is "what data have I lost?" -- and this is the real expense of a lost, stolen or broken laptop. When all the data is stored in the cloud, that question pretty much goes away. Furthermore, the Chromebook is not as expensive as my MacBook Air or Vaio, so if something does happen to it, no data is lost and it's less expensive to replace with a new one which is up and running in no time at all. This is huge, and one reason I'd like to talk my Dad into using one, as sometimes he forgets which file he left on which computer or he downloads new Windows apps which 'promise' to speed up his computer, but instead install viruses, which I later have to remove.
Economic model is great for small businesses. You can 'rent' a Chromebook for between $20-30 per month for employees, and Google will take over all help desk responsibilities. This is huge, and IMO, a real gamechanger. The business administrators can configure all employees Chromebooks from one central interface. And, if your Chromebook breaks it is immediately replaced free of cost. This is huge for small businesses who can now spend less on IT and more on productivity-- assuming you have no need for standard business apps like MS Office, which many, like us, have given up in favor of Google Apps. For those diehards who absolutely need to run MS Office, there are several HTML5 remote desktop computing solutions which allow Chromebooks to run remote virtual instances of Windows7 running Office and other Windows apps, but it seems counterproductive to the ease-of-use premise of Chromebook.
Chromebook runs Flash with no problems-- along with several other web application frameworks. There are many web applications which try to replace desktop applications using Flash and Flex.For instance, Aviary.com has a bunch of really cool apps including their Phoenix image editor which mirrors much of what Photoshop can do-- and they all run in a browser using Flash. I've had no problems using these products including HTML5 apps which allow me to FTP into WordPress sites, and even edit directly the php and CSS files directly. Certainly, there are many more on the way. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for either iPad or Android.
A few keyboard issues. There is no delete key. There is a backspace key. For Mac users, this is probably no big problem as the Mac doesn't have one either. But for many of us Windows users the delete key is critical to our workflow. Hope this is fixed in newer versions. But Mac users will be disappointed with the undo,cut, copy and paste keyboard shortcuts. There is no Apple command key so you have to use the CTRL key as a modifier, which is quite a finger stretch for those trained on the easy Command-Z,X,C and V workflow.
There is no Netflix. Yet. For those of you hooked on Netflix, it's rumored to be in the works, but currently there is no way to play Netflix. I suspect this is because the OS is based on Linux and for some reason, Netflix has some specific requirements which only run on MacOS and Windows and iOS.
There are many applications which have no online counterparts. No decent 3D apps are available as web apps. And of course neither support for the real Photoshop and MS Office or my favorite programming language, LiveCode. We all have our 'gotta have' applications, and many of mine are just not available.
No GoToMeeting or Skype. For me, these both are two of the biggest detractors right now for Chromebook. I depend on both these apps during the day, and both are supported on the iPad. Though, frankly, GTM on iPad is pretty bad-- you can't initiate a meeting nor can you do any sort of screen sharing. Google Voice does work on the Chromebook. While there are plenty of rumors, there's no word yet on when or if there will be an HTML5 or Flash version of Skype. There are some pretty decent chat clients. One is
No Network, No work. This is a common complaint for most reviewers of Chromebook. But, for me, it's not such a big deal. I only want to use my Chromebook when I need web access, so I purchased it with 3G built in. So, unless I'm flying somewhere, or way out in the country, web access shouldn't be much a problem-- and if I can't have Internet access, I doubt there's much I really want to do. Also, I don't think of my Chromebook as my only machine, only as possibly the one I may end up using the most.
First of all, I hope others see the value in owning a Google Chromebook. Because as more users buy them, more companies will have to take note and begin support for them.
As products and operating systems become more and more complex, the simplicity of accessing and storing data on the cloud using only a browser is appealing to those who crave for a simpler and easier way to do things. This is an important step in lessening our collective dependency on older and more antiquated OS'es, which are providing less and less value to us as they become more and more complicated. Fact is, modern OS'es have been looking like the same animals, doing the same things, offering the same features. Apple's new OS named Lion now has many similar features as Windows 7, including the much needed ability to resize a window from any edge. But also, looking forward, Lion also adds some very interesting iOS features, such as implementation of fullscreen mode which does away with windows-- and acts more like a fullscreen BROWSER-- just like Chromebook already does! I expect if ChromeOS is successful, it will start to implement Android type features much like Lion has adopted iOS capabilities.
I personally think Chromebook is excellent family based computer as well as perfect for many small businesses. And for myself, someone who owns a desktop PC, Mac and Windows laptop, and iPad, the Chromebook will be an interesting fit. It will be telling to see how much time I spend using it-- my guess is it will take over much of the space my iPad used to use. I enjoy the iPad because of it's instant on, super long battery life, and super fast and capable connectivity to the web-- all things make it a superb Everday Portable Computing Device. The Samsung Chromebook has all of this PLUS I can now view Flash, type emails without looking at the keys (instead of hunt-and-peck on iPad), and have an overall better browsing experience. We'll see.
196 of 217 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good First Try,
Battery Life- this outshines my Sony machine. With the sony I can last about 2.5-3 hours. on this machine I can get over eight hours, a huge plus!
Cloud- it is very nice to have work synced up with my main Sony machine. This is of course if you are comfortable using Google's web applications. I would make sure not to utilize the cloud for any sensitive information.
Boot-Up- almost instantaneous! Definitely nice to not have to wait on a desktop to load up
Keyboard layout- Some minor quips about button placement. The top row of function keys have been replaced with web-centric keys, I never use them! I having been using Alt + Arrow keys to navigate and Ctrl + R to reload on my Sony I still do this. There is no delete button, instead the power button takes up the position where the delete key resides on my Sony. I have to consciously adjust my typing since all i have to work with is a backspace button. The Caps Lock key has been replaced by a dedicated search key, I hardly used the Caps Lock key, so I have tendency to not use the search key as much as the designers had intended. Other notable missing keys that I had used often are: home, end, page up, and page down.
Mousepad- I have been using both a Sony Laptop and Macbook Pro, both with multi-touch functionality. It is disappointing to to not see similar execution built into the over-sized touch pad. Right clicking is a little awkward using two fingers to get the right click menu. However, Drag and Drop is made painful by placing one finger down and using the other to drag the item around the screen, while keeping the other one still in its place. Not very well executed, and can be uncomfortable.
Data- 100MB for one month! Ridiculous with the amount of content on a single page, I would be surprised if you didn't hit the ceiling by the end of one week let alone a couple days. I checked my facebook page, logged into gmail, and updated my tweetdeck app, in a matter of 15-20 minutes i had used up 12MB of the 100MB allowance. The pricing on the data options are very unreasonable. 5G of data for one month will set you back fifty dollars! Of course this is the same treatment that smartphone users have to endure, an unfortunate consequence of an oligopoly .
Google Music Beta- having been an early adopter of the chromebook, I would have thought that Google Music would be pre-installed or at least a definite invite.
Removable Media- I tried plugging in my Western Digital 1 TB external to test out the file manager, that I had read about. After about 3 minutes of waiting, I gave up and unplugged the device. It was taking way to long to try to read the files.
Lack of Apps- The Chrome Market has many apps, but very few great apps, while this is most likely due to the infancy of this platform, I find the lack of options a little diappointing.
Notes: The computer was designed with the sole purpose of consuming content on the Internet. It does not disappoint in this arena. However, I can not recommend the device as a laptop replacement, or content generator. It is very convenient for traveling, being light weight and able to connect to either 3G or nearby wireless networks with ease. I would say this would be a suitable substitute for smart phone web browsing allowing you to save battery life on your precious iOS or Android device. I am satisfied with my purchase, and believe it is a good first attempt.
41 of 42 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Soaring in the clouds !,
For people willing to evolve to cloud computing and with access to good WiFi or 3G most of the time, this is a great product. It is not going to totally replace a Windows or Mac computer for most people, but I find I can do 95% of my daily computing much faster and easier with my Chromebook. Before I bought it, I was ready to replace my 4-year old Windows laptop which is running like molasses now, and was not looking forward to spending days setting up a new Windows machine between migrating over all my files, uninstalling all the bloatware, setting up the antivirus and firewalls, installing all my programs, etc.. But now, with my Chromebook (which took less than 5 minutes to set up out of the box), I don't have to replace my old Windows laptop at all. I can just keep it in a drawer and pull it out for the two times a month I need to use it. If my Windows laptop ever totally dies I can replace it with a used or low-end cheap Windows laptop since my primary computer is now my Chromebook. This is saving me money and lots of time in the long run, and it's the reason why you would want a Chromebook and a Windows/Mac laptop at the same time.
Now onto a review of the Chromebook itself - battery life is really 8 hours with normal use, as advertised, and it really does cold-boot in 8 seconds and resume from sleep in 1 second. Once you get used to this, everything else will seem like a throwback from the stone age. The screen is very bright and nice and the keyboard is a breeze to type on. Instead of the cryptic F1 through F12 buttons you'll see on top of a Windows laptop keyboard, you have browser navigation buttons like Back, Forward, Refresh, Full Screen, which is very convenient. The trackpad takes some getting used to because it has multi-touch features and has no buttons (you physically press on the keyboard with one finger until it clicks for left click, or with two fingers for right click), but after a few days, I was proficient with it. It works fine with a mouse too. It feels super light and thin to carry. Many of the software issues reported in earlier reviews have now been fixed by Chrome OS updates which comes out automatically every 6 weeks. I haven't experienced even a single crash of the browser in 2 weeks of daily use. The build quality is very good in my opinion. In terms of web page loading performance, it's pretty fast - much faster than a comparably priced laptop. Hulu and other flash-based video is a bit jerky at 720, but if you turn it down to 480 it gets much better. Streaming video on Netflix works great, no jerkiness at all. Rhapsody/Napster and Amazon Cloud Player works great for listening to music, and of course, so does Google Music Beta.
All the reviews that say you should just get a Windows netbook for the same price and run Chrome browser on it instead to get the same experience just don't get the whole Chromebook concept. Not only will you not get instant-on and 8 hours battery life out of a Windows netbook, but you'll have to deal with all the required maintenance of Windows. You can get a new Ultrabook or Macbook Air now for 2-3 times the price of a Chromebook that gives you (almost) instant-on and 8 hours battery life, but it'll still be running Windows or Mac OS with its endless time consuming updates, the background churning of the anti-virus/malware protection software, the battle with the bloatware. Despite all this maintenance, your Windows machine will just get slower and slower as time goes on, and if you lose it or damage it, you're going to be back to square one setting up a new machine. On the other hand, a Chromebook requires zero maintenance, and over time it just gets faster and faster with OS updates that refresh the image. If you were to lose or accidentally destroy your Chromebook tomorrow, you can get a new one, turn it on, and literally be back exactly where you were in less than one minute. If you log onto a friend's Chromebook, it will be as if you're using your own since with your Google account login it will sync all your bookmarks, themes, and apps automatically no matter what machine you're using. This is revolutionary.
Now, since most criticisms about a Chromebook revolve around what people think it cannot do, let me debunk some myths:
- Printing: Yes, it can print. Google has a service called Google Cloud Print that works with web connected printers sold by HP, Epson, and Kodak. Basically you send the document directly over the web to your printer. Getting one of these printers will allow you to print directly from the Chromebook or a smartphone or a tablet (Android or Apple iOS). If you don't have one of these printers, you can still print from your Chromebook by sending the print job to a Windows or Mac machine instead, which will print it to any printer it is connected to.
- Microsoft Office documents: Yes, you can work with Microsoft Office documents. Google Docs, a fully functional web-based word processing/spreadsheet/presentation productivity suite, can open Microsoft Word and Excel documents by converting them into Google Docs format, and then can save them back in Word or Excel format after you are finished editing if you want to. Also, Microsoft offers a free version of Office Web Apps and a free 25 GB cloud storage Skydrive account, which allows you access to versions of Word, Excel, and Powerpoint through the web browser.
- Local Files: Yes, you can download files from the web onto your Chromebook. It has 16 GB storage and also has an SD card reader. So for example you can pop your SD card out of your camera onto your Chromebook and look at the pictures or upload them to Picasa or whatever cloud storage you use. You can connect to USB thumb drives or USB hard drives and manage the files on those. You can download an MS Word document to your Chromebook and upload them to Google Docs or Microsoft Office Skydrive for editing and sharing. It's a little more cumbersome to work with local files than on Windows, but it does work.
- ZIP files: Yes, it opens Zip files with the latest version of the OS.
- Working offline: Contrary to what is stated in many reviews, a Chromebook is not a brick when offline. You can read Gmail and compose new messages which sync when back online. You can view (but not edit) your Google Calendar and Google Docs documents, although Google is reportedly working on bringing offline editing back to Google Docs. In the meantime, there are free apps like Scratchpad which allow you to do light word processing offline and sync with Google Docs when back online. The media player can play MP3s and MP4 video files from local storage or an SD card. Lots of games work fine offline. You can read your Kindle books offline with the Kindle Cloud Reader. I'm sure there are many more apps on the Chrome Web Store that work offline I haven't discovered. In short, if you're on an airplane flight and there is no WiFi, your Chromebook can still keep you plenty occupied.
And here's what a Chromebook cannot (at least I haven't figured out a way) that will cause you to dig out a Windows or Mac computer:
- CD/DVD drives: Chrome OS currently does not support external CD or DVD drives. But seriously, CDs and DVDs will be going the way of 8-track tapes and vinyl in a few years.
- Scanner: Chrome OS does not support use of scanners yet.
- Bluetooth - I think the Samsung Series 5 and Acer AC700 actually have Bluetooth radios, but the Chrome OS doesn't support it yet. It's supposedly coming soon.
- Desktop applications: You can't install programs on the Chromebook. The locked down operating system is one of the key benefits of the OS (it provides the security against malware and makes the OS simple and light), but also it's primary drawback. Since you can't install any programs on the Chromebook, desktop applications like Microsoft Office, Skype, or video editing tools will not work. There are existing web applications that can replace many of these things and many more are coming out every day, but if you find that you simply cannot live without desktop applications and must use them all the time, then a Chromebook is not for you.
Now, the question of a Chromebook vs. a tablet comes up in many reviews. I personally own a tablet (Asus Transformer) as well, that I'm very happy with, but I use it to consume media and do some light web surfing, or my kids use it to play games. When I want to be productive and create content, I use my Chromebook as it is much better for that. I even spent some time using my Asus Transformer with the snap-on keyboard dock, and trust me the Chromebook is much more functional for productivity. A tablet wants to be a tablet and not some kludgy tablet/netbook combo, since the main benefit of a tablet is its portability and form factor.
If you are thinking about buying a Chromebook, I recommend that you spend a couple of weeks seeing if you can do nearly everything you want on a Windows or Mac laptop using just the Chrome browser and no desktop applications. When you want to write documents or spreadsheets, use Google Docs, Microsoft Office Web Apps, Evernote Web, or equivalent. Use Gmail or other webmail program rather than Outlook. Use Picasa or Flickr or equivalent for your storing and editing images instead of keeping them on your hard drive. Stream music rather than playing MP3s from your hard drive. Use Google Talk instead of Skype. If you find yourself completely paranoid about where your data is being stored and whether or not you can get to it in case of calamity, then a Chromebook is not for you (conspiracy theorists are not the target market). If you find yourself constantly exiting the browser to open up a desktop application, then the Chromebook is not for you. But otherwise, I think you'll find that the world has evolved to a state where this is not only possible but easy and liberating to live on the web, and the Chromebook is a great vehicle for navigating this new world. Thin clients are the cutting edge of the future (maybe a bit too early for many people).
Final thoughts - some things I hope Google/Samsung/Acer improve for future hardware / software releases:
- Bluetooth support
- Offline Google Docs editing - right now Google Docs are available for viewing offline and there are workarounds for offline editing like Scratchpad, but full offline editing and sync capability with Google Docs would fix all these issues.
- Just a little faster: The only noticeable performance issue is jerkiness when playing flash video at high bit rate. This should be fixed.
- Price: I think the optimal price point is $50 less than current MSRP, making the Acer AC700 Wifi model $299, the Samsung Series 5 WiFi about $379, and the highest end model Samsung Series 5 with WiFi+3G about $450. Google and the OEMs should not try to cheapen it anymore than that, but rather they should play up the value for that price point. I bought my Samsung Series 5 Chromebook used on eBay for much less than MSRP, and I think I probably be less enthusiastic about it if I paid top dollar.
A Skype web app would be nice too since even though Google Talk/Hangouts is just as good, not as many people use those services, but since Skype is now in Microsoft's hands I am not holding my breath.
48 of 53 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Solid Laptop, Almost There,
First off, this laptop is definitely not for everyone. The Chromebook will appeal most to the minimalist-loving, cloud based consumer. If you love a very swift boot time, mainly use your web browser, and trust the cloud then a Chromebook is the perfect choice.
The Samsung Series 5 has a sleek design and even comes with a cool chrome icon. Despite having a plastic feel, the laptop is well worth the $500 in terms of hardware. It weighs 3.3 lbs so its not too heavy, but also not the lightest laptop.
Chrome is Chrome OS. If you use chrome as a browser then you already know how this OS looks and performs. One plus to the Chrome OS though is that there are no application bars on the bottom of your screen and the media player, downloads, and various web apps minimize and disappear when you move away from them. This gives the OS a clean, clutter-less feel. Where the Chromebook really shines is its boot time. The Samsung Series 5 automatically starts up when you open the lid and within seconds, takes you to the login screen. At times, it feels less than 8 seconds.
I haven't used too many web apps but most of them are bookmarks. I think in order for Chrome OS to be commercially successful, the web apps need to become of better quality. Since I rarely use web apps and almost never use programs like photoshop or dreamweaver, this is not an issue for me, but for users that require more from the web will frown upon this.
The Samsung Series 5 performs how any dual-core atom processor would. Websites run fine, youtube videos at 360-480p run fairly smoothly (full-screen might have a different performance), and hulu runs at an average quality. Even having 5-6 tabs open won't hinder the performance of the laptop so it's quite capable. The keyboard is comfortable and has many useful shortcut keys. The trackpad is good, but does not compare to the mac trackpad. It does not support too many multi-touch gestures and scrolling is not as definitive as the macs.
The Chromebook is capable of all casual browsing tasks such as social networking, watching online videos, listening to music, and basic document creation. In terms of performance I would have given the laptop 3-3.5 stars because the Chromebook does not do anything out of the ordinary and the price is not amazing. Yet I decided to give it 4 stars because of the rolling updates. Since Google constantly updates the Chromebook, with time, the computer is bound to get better. If you believe in Google's vision of the web and that they will fully back Chrome OS in the future, order a Chromebook now, but if you want a traditional laptop with all the standard features, stick with a similar priced pc or a macbook.
30 of 32 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars For Those Running Their Lives On Google This Is the Best Device,
I'll throw this little tidbit out there upfront.....Amazon's (and to be fair, everyone's description of this device)description stats that the device has a SIM card slot, which is does, however, they do not state that VZW is the only carrier for Mobile Data in the states.
As far as the device is concerned, it was a no brainer for me. I looked on my Mac's, and aside from iTunes I was running everything through Chrome. I run my life on Google, multiple GMail accounts, Calendar, Sync for my mobile phones, Chrome syncs all my computers bookmarks etc., I've been a Google Voice user since it was Grand Central and Google Music beta actually let me sync my over 500GB music collection to their servers.
As for the hardware, I've tried every tablet, (I currently have a GalaxyTab, an iPad, and a Playbook) but for the same reason I prefer my BlackBerry Bold over my iPhone is I need a keyboard, and the keyboard on the Chromebook is pretty good. Not a big fan of the trackpad. The screen is good, but not amazing, though for a $500 device it is.
This machine is obviously all about the software, or lack of software, and I find that it works as expected. No frills, just a smooth ride. I booted it up, and I was a little shocked by how long the first boot out of the box took, but it connected to my WPA WiFi network w/out a problem. After that it was instant on, instant off. Everything plays as well, if not better than on my MacBook Pro running Chrome.
I honestly think this is suited for: someone who runs their life on Google Services, wants the a keyboard and laptop form factor, loves not having to worry about backing up data (which the average computer user doesn't do anyway), merely browses the web, or wants a great machine to travel with.
41 of 45 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Simple and elegant internet access point,
Pros: Instant on, 9 hour battery life, requires absolutely no maintenance, nice hardware, multiple user support
Cons: Is only a web browser, limited offline-capable HTML5 apps currently
I really like my Chromebook. Close the lid, it goes to sleep. Open the lid, it wakes up and you're on the internet in about 3 seconds. Repeat for 5 days, then charge it. It perfect handles multiple users on one device, and you can log in to a new device and have all your settings downloaded and applied in about 10 seconds. It downloads and installs all updates in the background. Nothing is allowed to write to its system drive, so the computer doesn't slow down with use.
It's a very well-done internet access terminal. There aren't enough HTML5 apps right now for it to be most people's only computer, but it's a great 2nd device. By sacrificing the existing range of Windows/tablet apps, you get great battery life, very simple use, and something that works really well with all system maintenance performed behind the scenes. I have 5 Windows computers at home, and I'm looking forward to slowly replacing them with devices that require no technical upkeep (I'm getting old and tired).
40 of 44 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars I like it,
I'm not great at writing reviews so I'm going to make it brief. I basically needed something small and efficient for writing emails while on the go. I have an iPad, but that doesn't fit the bill. Tablets are great for consuming content, but not for generating it. I've found that I almost exclusively use my tablet while sitting on the couch or while lying in bed at home. For travel, I need a laptop. I think that's funny, since tablets are supposed to be super mobile and ending the reign of the PC.
Anyway, here's a brief list of pros and cons:
- Perfect size
- Simple and clean design
- Battery lasts foreverrrr. 24 hours+ after opening and I'm still on the initial charge. 18% remaining. It's the first notebook I've had that I can walk away from and forget about while it's on and unplugged without constantly thinking about how I shouldn't do that and I need to go plug it in.
- It barely generates heat and makes *no* noise (my previous laptops were all 17" beasts which did a lot of both)
- Chrome OS is fun to play with and easy to use
- Like Apple's laptops, the track pad is so large that I often hit it with my palm while typing. Though the roominess of it is nice, that part is slightly annoying
- The screen is nice and bright, but the contrast is weak, so light colors can be hard to see. Chrome OS's text selection background color is very light, so often it's hard to tell what you're selecting
- I would have loved to see a back-lit keyboard. I think they missed an opportunity here to set that as a standard feature on Chromebooks.
- There is no "delete" key!!!
- I wish I could drag a tab from one window to another. If it's possible, I haven't figured it out yet.
- It's not a very fast machine. It's good for light to medium work, but nothing heavy.
- Tabs seem to get stuck while loading or crash after loading more often than they do in Chrome on Windows. This is not to say that it happens often - it just happens *more* often than Chrome on Windows.
- I wish there was a way to tab through panels like I can tab through tabs
- Google's cloud services are all separate and dispersed. (Picasa, Music Beta, Google Docs, etc.) When I want to save a photo, it'd be nice if Google had their own unified cloud file system I could save it to if I wanted. Like Dropbox or something. I'd pay for that. Right now I have to save the picture to the machine's HDD, then upload it to Picasa. It'd be nice to not have to ever hit the local storage. I know Google intends to make it so that you can add other internet services as cloud file systems that you can save to, but one branded as Google's would feel safer/more natural/better integrated.
I'm pretty satisfied with this little device. It does exactly what I wanted it to, and I enjoy being part of the initial set of users on products, especially if it's something Googley. The software I expect will be enhanced over time, and whatever issues remain outside of that are outweighed for me by the fun and sense of convenience that I get from playing with this thing. I imagine though that it's not yet for everyone. If you spend a good amount of your time offline, or using things other than a web browser, or don't want to be annoyed by the roughness around the edges of a new OS, you should probably stick with a PC or Mac for now, and maybe take another look this way in 6 months to a year. If you're looking for something that's fun to play with, easy to use, and very portable, buy it!
84 of 99 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars So disappointing,
I love google. I love gmail, google, calendar, google docs. I loved the IDEA behind the chromebook. I knew that it would be limited compared to other laptops, but I was hoping for a sleek, streamlined, web-only machine that could last for hours. Unfortunately it was only that last part. After several days of trying to force myself to fall in love I just couldn't justify $500 for this machine, and returned it.
Long battery life (though less than expected/listed)
Quick boot up
Cheap build quality, plastic and felt flimsy
Navigating the web is glitchy/slow/laggy (Google email on a google operating system in a google machine, yet my 2+ year old base model macbook ran gmail faster/smoother while running other programs)
Sound is intolerable (thin, barely audible at max volume)
Chrome app store has almost nothing of any value/interest beyond the web itself (many "apps" are simply links to web pages)
Cost compared to what you're getting
Touchpad is limited, glitchy (doesn't register taps/scrolling at times)
Screen is mediocre
If this machine was $200, then I may be able to justify it has a "throw around" laptop that you can use for the basics without worrying about it getting banged up / lost / stolen. At $500 this becomes a more serious investment. I think getting a bottom line netbook/laptop and installing chrome browser will give you a better "chromebook" than the chromebook itself. I'd be interested in trying one out again if the performance improves and price drops.
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Samsung Series 5 Chromebook (Wi-Fi) by Samsung
Used & New from: $205.99