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Samsung Chromebook (Wi-Fi, 11.6-Inch) 2012 Model
Samsung Chromebook (Wi-Fi, 11.6-Inch) 2012 Model
Offered by Everyday S
Price: Click here to see our price
188 used & new from $115.00

1,822 of 2,000 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic Value, October 27, 2012
I'm based in the UK and bought my unit there. However, physically this model is nearly identical to ours (to my knowledge only the keyboard layout and socket you need for charging it differs) and I've been using Chrome OS and previous Chrome hardware for a while, so I thought I'd give my take on this device.

I've owned the Cr-48 for a while, which was a kind of test unit Google sent out to people to beta test the operating system. That came out a long time ago and none of the commercial units have felt good enough to me to justify buying, up until now. They were always a little too expensive, despite the obvious advantages.

This will be a long review. For those wanting a short summary, I'll include one at the end.

The software

For those unclear, Chrome OS (which the Chromebook runs) is fundamentally different to a Windows, Mac or Linux-based laptop, desktop or netbook. This is because it runs the web. No native applications exist specifically for this machine. There are apps (sometimes referred to as Chrome apps) but they also work in the Chrome browser.

Because this computer runs what many call 'just a browser' it has several advantages, as well as disadvantages when compared to a Windows machine. I've chosen Windows for most comparisons here as more people typically use Windows than a Mac or Linux machine.

Security

You cannot install Windows applications (or other native software) on Chrome OS. This means that the computer can operate more securely than a Windows machine simply because the computer knows what should be installed. If something is there that shouldn't be there, the computer will erase all local data and install a version of the software that's stored in a secure area. Once you're connected to the internet, you'll be updated to the most recent version of the operating system. As your settings, bookmarks and Chrome applications are stored by Google, they are also restored after the machine is reset and you log in. Typically the operating system is updated every 6 weeks, meaning bugs get fixed pretty quickly (important bug fixes will arrive more quickly) and new features are released quickly, too.

Getting things done

This is where the big problem is for some people; you can't install Microsoft Office, Adobe's Photoshop or other software packages. You're limited to software that's delivered through a website. Most people are perfectly comfortable with using things like Facebook, Twitter and email this way. The web offers some pretty powerful tools, though. For instance, pretty sophisticated image editing software exists on-line, as do audio and video editing tools. Using the massive resources of the internet (typically referred to as 'the cloud') means that video editing and other resource-intensive tasks can be made dramatically quicker than doing it locally. Make no mistake though, if you do need something like Photoshop it's just not possible, unless you use software specifically designed to deliver 'normal' software through the web. Companies like Citrix offer products that can do that, but given the additional cost, it's usually only big businesses that use them.

If you don't need extremely-specialised software though, there's a lot available. Google, Zoho and Microsoft all offer tools that will let you create, open and export documents in popular formats, such as Microsoft Office. There are advantages to this approach, too. Google Docs (as an example) allows individuals to use their on-line document, spreadsheet and presentation software free of charge and, even better, you can collaborate with up to 50 people on the same document, practically in real-time. This sort of thing just isn't typically possible with traditional software. Where it is, it's likely to be clunkier than a web-based tool as a website just lets you login and work.

Calendars, Angry Birds, finance tools (Sage and QuickBooks are available through the browser) are all also available in this way. It's worth checking out if the things you'll want to do are available in this way before ordering a Chromebook.

There are also many off-line capable applications. That is, things that will work without an internet connection. These include Google Documents (editing and viewing) Google Docs spreadsheets (viewing) and things like Google Calendar. Keep in mind though that this is primarily a device for accessing the internet. Without a connection, this device is extremely-limited. Applications delivered through a browser will get more and more capable over time, though.

Other drawbacks

As I've said, not everything is available through a browser. Critical things that people take for granted either aren't available or are very different on a Chromebook.
It's not possible to watch AVI or MKV video files (at the time this was written) for example, without converting them. That's a big pain for some. Printing is different too, as you can't just plugin a printer on Chrome OS and have it work. For those that are curious, Google has a service called Cloud Print, which involves hooking up your printer to the internet. This approach does have an advantage in that you're able to print to your printer from anywhere with an internet connection, either from a mobile device or any installation of Chrome. For those without a printer that can connect to the internet independently of a regular computer, you can enable a normal printer by installing Chrome on a Windows machine and running it that way.

Storage

A key thing about Chromebooks is that they come with a 16GB hard drive. This is considered very low by modern standards as a typical Windows machine will come with a minimum of 500GB and often far more.

Google Drive is Google's solution for this. Essentially, Google Drive is on-line storage. It stores files from Google Docs and will store pretty much any type of file, too. A key thing is that it integrates with the file system, meaning you can save files directly to your account (Drive can be used on Windows and other computers, as well as Android and iOS devices) and access them from whichever device you're using.
By default, Drive comes with 5GB of storage. This isn't a huge amount, but for free on-line storage it's pretty typical. Many other services actually offer much less. However, if you buy a Chromebook you get 100GB free for two years, which is very useful given that it can be used across many devices. If after two years you're using more than whatever the normal free allowance is at that point (things do change) and you've not qualified for some other promotion, you'll no longer be able to add new files. Your existing data will be accessible, meaning files will not be deleted.
Another great thing about Drive is that files can be shared with others. Google Docs files are not counted towards your storage.
Again, it's worth noting that other great on-line storage solutions exist, such as Dropbox and Box. The difference of course is that they're not tightly-integrated with the Chromebook.

Hardware (general)

This new Chromebook is running on an ARM chip, the type of processor you'd typically find in a mobile phone or tablet. That may sound slow given the demands of a typical Windows machine, but it's very quick. It boots in around 7 seconds (it feels more like 5 as the logo is on the screen almost as soon as you open the lid) and you can be on-line with your normal tabs open in under 30 seconds with ease. The keyboard is extremely responsive and many professional reviewers have remarked that it's the best that's ever been on a Chromebook, which includes the much more expensive Samsung Series 5 550 machine. The trackpad, too, is very good indeed.

The machine is extremely responsive due to it needing very few resources to operate. If you attempt to run 20+ tabs, yes, it will slow down a whole lot. But if, like most typical users, you use this for email, Facebook and the like, you should have no performance issues. Depending on your usage, the stated 6.5 hours of battery life are very close. In fact I'd suggest that you'd get more, depending on screen brightness etc.

Other hardware

On this particular unit you'll find one USB 2.0 port, one USB 3.0 port, HDMI out (for putting what's on your screen on a bigger screen, like a computer monitor or TV) and an SD card reader. External USB hard drives work fine in my experience and many phones are treated properly as mass storage too. However certain devices such as external optical (CD/DVD) drives will not work at all. As a commenter noted, I originally forgot to point out that this machine has no moving parts because of the type of hard drive used. This means the machine is extremely quiet and doesn't get hot.

Miscellaneous

It should be noted that since Chromebooks are essentially stateless (that is, they have little personal data stored on them) they can be wiped at any time without a problem and you can start over. This also means that they can easily be shared and Chrome devices (a desktop version, called a Chromebox also exists) have something called Guest Mode, which allows a friend to browse the web without accessing your settings or bookmarks and when they're done, their browsing history is automatically deleted. For those with whom you share your Chrome device regularly, you can add them to the list of permanent users.

Summary

Essentially, if you use the web most of the time (this is what most computer users do) or want a second machine that can be used without any technical knowledge for that purpose by others in your household, this is an ideal device. If, however, you like to play a lot of 'real' video games or access specialised software, chances are that this device isn't for you. That said, this device is cheap enough that you can buy one for the couch or to use while you watch television. Due to the price of this machine, it's most likely to be compared to a low-end Windows machine (which are typically very slow) or a tablet, such as a Nexus 7.

If you want easy web access and don't care at all about typing, I'd suggest a tablet. A good quality tablet can (at the time of this review) be had for $199, including a high definition screen. But if typing and web access matters to you, I'd seriously consider this device.
Comment Comments (53) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Nov 17, 2013 3:56 PM PST


Samsung Series 5 550 Chromebook (Wi-Fi)
Samsung Series 5 550 Chromebook (Wi-Fi)
4 used & new from $299.00

698 of 722 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Chrome OS (Software) Review, May 30, 2012
I've been using one of the laptops that Google originally distributed in order to test Chrome OS. As the idea behind Chromebooks is new to some, I thought I'd focus on the operating system, though I've covered the hardware to a point.
I'll try to make this in-depth without it being too technical.

If you're looking for a quick idea of whether or not this is for you, jump to the bottom and read the summary.

The Concept

The premise on which Chrome OS is based is that almost everything you do when you use your computer happens in your browser, so Google have built a system that makes that experience as fast, as simple and as secure as they can. That simplicity also leads to an 8-hour battery life, which very few laptops can offer.
This simpler approach means that you don't have to deal with software updates(with one exception, see below) or worry about anti-virus software.
This also means all of your files and media is stored on other computers, on the internet. Some people aren't ready for that and if you're not, Chromebooks aren't for you.

Applications and Limitations

As you might imagine, just the web means no Windows, Mac or other typical software applications. Because of this, there's no CD or DVD drive in a Chromebook.
Though `just the web' may sound extremely-limiting, you can do a lot in your browser; multimedia editing(including video), as well as voice and video chat is all entirely possible on a Chromebook, as is the creation and editing of documents, spreadsheets and presentations. This software is available all over the web and there's a selection of useful tools to be found in the Chrome Web Store, with free and paid solutions.
That said, you can just type in a web address or search as you would normally to find a helpful website. As an example, Google, Zoho and Microsoft all offer web-based office suites, some of those are free and some paid.

Setup

Setting up a Chromebook is as simple as turning it on, putting in your Wi-Fi connection details and logging in.
If there's a new version of the operating system(as there was when I set my machine up) it will download that before you can continue. This may seem odd, as the idea is to make updates invisible to you, but Chromebooks check for updates the first time they're run in case something in that update changes something key, like the introduction process for new users.
Once the laptop has checked for updates, it reboots and you login. You're then shown how to do various things with the click-able touchpad, such as scrolling and right-clicking.

Speed

After the first time it's turned on Chromebooks are designed to be very fast. In my experience, that means booting up in around 9 seconds from off, whether that means the power button being pressed or the lid being lifted. If you close the lid for a while but leave the machine on, it should resume instantly.

Security

Whilst not being able to install traditional software can seem restrictive, it also has a huge benefit: no more anti-virus software.
Viruses are so common on Windows(and lately the Mac operating system, OS X) because the more software that's installed, the more potential vulnerabilities there are to exploit.

Because the Chromebook knows what software should be installed, it can keep a copy in an encrypted area of the hard drive. Each time you turn the machine on, it checks to see if anything unathorised has changed in the software. If it has, that encrypted copy overwrites everything and any updates will be installed when you connect to the internet.
No system is 100% secure, but this method(called verified boot) makes it much harder to compromise your machine.

Privacy and Google

Some users don't like the idea of being dependent on any large company for their computing needs. So, does a Chromebook make you reliant upon Google?
In short, no. Whilst Google does encourage you to log in to a Chromebook with your Google account, you can log in under Guest mode. Whilst using Guest mode, nothing you do is saved on the machine, you don't need to log in to a Google service and you're free to use any web-based service you choose. Google is currently working on other login methods.
However, should you choose to login using your Google account(as I do and most users ultimately will) your settings and bookmarks can be saved and synched across any other device running Chrome(which now includes Android phones running Ice Cream Sandwich - version 4.0 of Android - and above), just as they are in for the Chrome browser.

Files and Devices

A key thing when using a system like this is being able to use files people email you and external hardware, just like you would on a Windows PC or a Mac.
If someone emails you a picture, for instance, you can download that file and directly upload it to Picasa Web Albums, Google's photo hosting site. This is called a file handler(think of it like you would a piece of software that opens certain files in Windows) and Google has released tools for companies to do similar things with different file types. For example, Google Docs will soon be able to upload Word documents, Excel spreadsheets and Powerpoint presentations directly to your account, without needing to go to the web address of the service.

I've tried various hardware with my test laptop. All have worked well.
Inserting a usb thumb drive or plugging in an external hard drive will make a Chromebook scan it for files it can play(there's a built-in media player) and plugging in a camera will show you the pictures on it. I've also tried an external webcam, microphone, keyboard and mouse and my Android phone. All worked as I expected.

Off-line Access

Chrome OS is great when you have internet access, but what about when you don't have internet access? Many(but by no means all, yet) web sites can work off-line and then upload your game progress or document when you next connect. This functionality is coming soon(this summer, according to Google) to Gmail, Google Calendar and Google Docs. Some of the applications that currently function off-line include the NY Times, Huffington Post and Angry Birds.

Hardware and Pricing

Those who dislike Chromebooks often bring up netbooks. A netbook is a small, cheap laptop which almost always has low-quality, slow hardware. This results in a poor experience, as they typically run Windows and because of their cheap hardware, can't provide the resources Windows needs to run at its best. On top of that, Windows can't offer the security that a Chromebook does, can't boot as quickly and very rarely will you find any laptop that run for 8 hours on a single charge.
Right now, Google has only 2 partners who are making Chromebooks. That lack of competition keeps prices higher than they likely will ultimately reach.

My experience with the test machine Google distributed(called the Cr-48) from a hardware perspective has been very positive; my Windows machine boots in 1 minute 22 seconds and my Cr-48 is at the login screen in just under 10 seconds. Depending upon the task, I've experienced between 8 and 10 hours of use per charge.
It's similar to the machines you can buy in that it has the same quantity of memory and storage and a similar sized(though not as hi-quality, I'd imagine) screen. The major difference is that the Cr-48 has a single-core processor, whereas the official Chromebooks use a dual-core chip, making them better able to handle more intensive tasks, such as video playback.

Summary

To put it simply, Chromebooks are fantastic if you use only the web or spend almost all of your time on the web; sub-10 second boot, great security and great battery life.
If you don't or don't have internet access most of the time, these aren't for you just yet.

Update

As of May 2012, Chromebooks will soon have a very different interface, making them look more like a typical operating system. They will also soon have Google Drive support built-in, as part of the options for managing files.
It should also be noted that Google's Cloud Print service(not so new) can be used to wirelessly print from a Chromebook(or any Chrome install on Windows, Mac or Linux and, eventually, Android, I imagine) to a printer.

Update 2

As of today, the 29th of May 2012, a new, more powerful Samsung Chromebook with 4GB of RAM has been announced, along with the Chromebox, a desktop version of the latest Chromebook, with some additional ports. Both of these devices should soon be for sale, if they're not already.

Also announced today was version 19 of Chrome OS which has the radical(closer to Windows or Mac) UI design, which should make it more familiar for users of those two operating systems. Along with this, it's been announced that there will(in the coming weeks) be an off-line Google Docs editor, allowing the important functionality of a word processor to not rely on an internet connection. This certainly applies to Chromebook and Chromebox devices, but should work on any modern browser that supports the required technologies, too. This is a big deal and makes Docs(and Chrome OS) much more useful for those who are on the move a lot and worry about not always having a connection.

Finally, Google Drive integration(including off-line support) is said to be released in 6 weeks, with version 20 of the operating system.
With that we'll be close to a point where losing your connection for a while won't be a huge issue. Especially with there being plenty of web apps and Chrome apps out there with off-line support already.
Comment Comments (32) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Dec 2, 2014 4:58 AM PST


Acer AC700-1099 Chromebook (Wi-Fi)
Acer AC700-1099 Chromebook (Wi-Fi)

241 of 251 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Chrome OS Review, July 14, 2011
I've been using one of the laptops that Google distributed last year in order to test Chrome OS. As the idea behind Chromebooks is new to some, I thought I'd focus on the operating system, though I've covered the hardware to a point.
I'll try to make this in-depth without it being too technical.

If you're looking for a quick idea of whether or not this is for you, jump to the bottom and read the summary.

The Concept

The premise on which Chrome OS is based is that almost everything you do when you use your computer happens in your browser, so Google have built a system that makes that experience as fast, as simple and as secure as they can. That simplicity also leads to an 8-hour battery life, which very few laptops can offer.
This simpler approach means that you don't have to deal with software updates(with one exception, see below) or worry about anti-virus software.
This also means all of your files and media is stored on other computers, on the internet. Some people aren't ready for that and if you're not, Chromebooks aren't for you.

Applications and Limitations

As you might imagine, just the web means no Windows, Mac or other typical software applications. Because of this, there's no CD or DVD drive in a Chromebook.
Though `just the web' may sound extremely-limiting, you can do a lot in your browser; multimedia editing(including video), as well as voice and video chat is all entirely possible on a Chromebook, as is the creation and editing of documents, spreadsheets and presentations. This software is available all over the web and there's a selection of useful tools to be found in the Chrome Web Store, with free and paid solutions.
That said, you can just type in a web address or search as you would normally to find a helpful website. As an example, Google, Zoho and Microsoft all offer web-based office suites, some of those are free and some paid.

Setup

Setting up a Chromebook is as simple as turning it on, putting in your Wi-Fi connection details and logging in.
If there's a new version of the operating system(as there was when I set my machine up) it will download that before you can continue. This may seem odd, as the idea is to make updates invisible to you, but Chromebooks check for updates the first time they're run in case something in that update changes something key, like the introduction process for new users.
Once the laptop has checked for updates, it reboots and you login. You're then shown how to do various things with the click-able touchpad, such as scrolling and right-clicking.

Speed

After the first time it's turned on Chromebooks are designed to be very fast. In my experience, that means booting up in around 9 seconds from off, whether that means the power button being pressed or the lid being lifted. If you close the lid for a while but leave the machine on, it should resume instantly.

Security

Whilst not being able to install traditional software can seem restrictive, it also has a huge benefit: no more anti-virus software.
Viruses are so common on Windows(and lately the Mac operating system, OS X) because the more software that's installed, the more potential vulnerabilities there are to exploit.

Because the Chromebook knows what software should be installed, it can keep a copy in an encrypted area of the hard drive. Each time you turn the machine on, it checks to see if anything unathorised has changed in the software. If it has, that encrypted copy overwrites everything and any updates will be installed when you connect to the internet.
No system is 100% secure, but this method(called verified boot) makes it much harder to compromise your machine.

Privacy and Google

Some users don't like the idea of being dependent on any large company for their computing needs. So, does a Chromebook make you reliant upon Google?
In short, no. Whilst Google does encourage you to log in to a Chromebook with your Google account, you can log in under Guest mode. Whilst using Guest mode, nothing you do is saved on the machine, you don't need to log in to a Google service and you're free to use any web-based service you choose. Google is currently working on other login methods.
However, should you choose to login using your Google account(as I do and most users ultimately will) your settings and bookmarks can be saved and synched across any other device running Chrome(which now includes Android phones running Ice Cream Sandwich - version 4.0 of Android - and above), just as they are in for the Chrome browser.

Files and Devices

A key thing when using a system like this is being able to use files people email you and external hardware, just like you would on a Windows PC or a Mac.
If someone emails you a picture, for instance, you can download that file and directly upload it to Picasa Web Albums, Google's photo hosting site. This is called a file handler(think of it like you would a piece of software that opens certain files in Windows) and Google has released tools for companies to do similar things with different file types. For example, Google Docs will soon be able to upload Word documents, Excel spreadsheets and Powerpoint presentations directly to your account, without needing to go to the web address of the service.

I've tried various hardware with my test laptop. All have worked well.
Inserting a usb thumb drive or plugging in an external hard drive will make a Chromebook scan it for files it can play(there's a built-in media player) and plugging in a camera will show you the pictures on it. I've also tried an external webcam, microphone, keyboard and mouse and my Android phone. All worked as I expected.

Off-line Access

Chrome OS is great when you have internet access, but what about when you don't have internet access? Many(but by no means all, yet) web sites can work off-line and then upload your game progress or document when you next connect. This functionality is coming soon(this summer, according to Google) to Gmail, Google Calendar and Google Docs. Some of the applications that currently function off-line include the NY Times, Huffington Post and Angry Birds.

Hardware and Pricing

Those who dislike Chromebooks often bring up netbooks. A netbook is a small, cheap laptop which almost always has low-quality, slow hardware. This results in a poor experience, as they typically run Windows and because of their cheap hardware, can't provide the resources Windows needs to run at its best. On top of that, Windows can't offer the security that a Chromebook does, can't boot as quickly and very rarely will you find any laptop that run for 8 hours on a single charge.
Right now, Google has only 2 partners who are making Chromebooks. That lack of competition keeps prices higher than they likely will ultimately reach.

My experience with the test machine Google distributed(called the Cr-48) from a hardware perspective has been very positive; my Windows machine boots in 1 minute 22 seconds and my Cr-48 is at the login screen in just under 10 seconds. Depending upon the task, I've experienced between 8 and 10 hours of use per charge.
It's similar to the machines you can buy in that it has the same quantity of memory and storage and a similar sized(though not as hi-quality, I'd imagine) screen. The major difference is that the Cr-48 has a single-core processor, whereas the official Chromebooks use a dual-core chip, making them better able to handle more intensive tasks, such as video playback.

Summary

To put it simply, Chromebooks are fantastic if you use only the web or spend almost all of your time on the web; sub-10 second boot, great security and great battery life.
If you don't or don't have internet access most of the time, these aren't for you just yet.

Update

As of May 2012, Chromebooks will soon have a very different interface, making them look more like a typical operating system. They will also soon have Google Drive support built-in, as part of the options for managing files.
It should also be noted that Google's Cloud Print service(not so new) can be used to wirelessly print from a Chromebook(or any Chrome install on Windows, Mac or Linux and, eventually, Android, I imagine) to a printer.

Update 2

As of today, the 29th of May 2012, a new, more powerful Samsung Chromebook with 4GB of RAM has been announced, along with the Chromebox, a desktop version of the latest Chromebook, with some additional ports. Both of these devices should soon be for sale, if they're not already.

Also announced today was version 19 of Chrome OS which has the radical(closer to Windows or Mac) UI design, which should make it more familiar for users of those two operating systems. Along with this, it's been announced that there will(in the coming weeks) be an off-line Google Docs editor, allowing the important functionality of a word processor to not rely on an internet connection. This certainly applies to Chromebook and Chromebox devices, but should work on any modern browser that supports the required technologies, too. This is a big deal and makes Docs(and Chrome OS) much more useful for those who are on the move a lot and worry about not always having a connection.

Finally, Google Drive integration(including off-line support) is said to be released in 6 weeks, with version 20 of the operating system.
With that we'll be close to a point where losing your connection for a while won't be a huge issue. Especially with there being plenty of web apps and Chrome apps out there with off-line support already.
Comment Comments (9) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Feb 13, 2012 10:45 AM PST


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