13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
Awesome Device -- If you know what you're buying.,
This review is from: Samsung Chromebook (Wi-Fi, 11.6-Inch) 2012 Model (Personal Computers)
I don't write reviews very often, but I really felt the need for this product.
I'm currently writing this on my Samsung Chromebook, while on a Delta flight to Cincinnati. The 12 free GoGo passes are an incredible value!
I've had an Acer netbook that I've used a lot in the past few months. It was aging, and netbooks were never very good in the first place. I had tried so many distrobutions of Linux on it, I won't bore you with the list. I soon realized the only thing I was using the netbook for was, well, the internet. I browsed the web, checked my social media, and checked my email. I only occasionally played games because the options that would run on that poor computer were few. I then realized that I needed a Chromebook.
I had previously rejected the idea of a Chromebook -- the older models seemed so limited in what they could do, and for the same price I could buy a decent Windows PC. The Samsung Chromebook came out, and I still felt like I wasn't ready to drop $250 dollars on such a limited device. That is, until I realized what I was doing on my netbook.
I received my Chromebook and was immediately impressed. The size was perfect -- larger than my netbook, yet small enough to carry around. The hinge design is interesting, and to be honest, I don't mind it. It seems to serve a good purpose, as I like being able to have all my ports in the back rather than sticking out of the sides. The laptop is made out of plastic, but the finish feels like aluminum, save for it not being cool to the touch. It is definitely flimsier than a MacBook Air, but it is also 4x cheaper. The design beats my netbook by far, however. It feels sturdy enough. In fact, I even put an Apple sticker on the back to see if I could fool anyone. If I have the Chrome and Samsung logos covered, I can get away with people thinking it's a MacBook Air. I feel cooler as well (isn't that the only reason people buy MacBooks these days?).
The screen is not amazing, but it is better than I had expected it to be. If there is one thing that is criticized the most other than the operating system on this device, it is the screen. However, people who criticize the screen clearly haven't seen any sub 500 dollar PC's. It beats my netbook's by far. 1366x768 may seem low by today's standards, but remember, many 15" laptops still have a 1366x768 resolution, and at a normal distance away, I can't see the individual pixels. Viewing angles could be better but it works just fine for the most part. A matte screen is a huge bonus as well, I am actually writing this with bright lights behind me. It is not as good as a MacBook Air, but again, how much did I pay?
This laptop is actually powered off of an ARM processor, the same architecture found in cell phones and tablets. However, the processor in this laptop is far more powerful than any phone, and is actually the same processor found in the top of the line Android tablet, the Nexus 10. Specs aside, it is very snappy, certainly far better than the Atom in my netbook. I can scroll across the heaviest of pages with ease, pages render quickly, and YouTube renders at at least 30 frames per second at 1080p. However, playing YouTube in the background while browsing the internet in another tab can be problematic. I suspect this to be more of a software issue than a hardware issue, because this certainly has the power to do both at the same time without the YouTube audio becoming glitchy. Grooveshark in the background works great, making it a better alternative to YouTube for music. Amazon Cloud Player is fine as well.
This is the often misunderstood part of this particular Chromebook. It's so cheap, the pictures look appealing, so people buy them expecting a full Windows laptop. If you look at all the one star reviews, you'll see a common trend: people buying without understanding. No, this laptop does not run Windows programs. No, you cannot install Photoshop. Does it say anywhere in the description it runs Windows? No. Before buying this product, PLEASE understand what it is meant to do. Do not buy it expecting a Windows laptop and then review it as if it were described as a Windows laptop. On another note, Netflix now works perfectly now so disregard reviews that say it doesn't. Also, 100GB of free Google Drive is a huge help when dealing with such small internal storage. The actual software experience is great. Instant on from sleep, and 7 second boot time is amazing. My netbook took upwards of a minute to boot. The user interface is polished and clean. It is very easy to understand. Google integration is really nice as I use almost all of Google's services: Gmail, Google+, YouTube, Google Voice, Google Drive, etc. Software updates come out every six weeks which is awesome. Many of the issues listed in older reviews have been fixed by those software updates.
KEYBOARD AND PERIPHERALS:
The keyboard is simply amazing. This is the one time in this review I will say anything is at the same level as a MacBook Air. Having used a MacBook Air and this, I can safely say there is no difference. It is not backlit, but that really does not matter for a touch typer like me. The caps lock is replaced with a dedicated search key. At times, I would like a caps lock, in fact I would have liked it better if they had put a dedicated search key where they removed the FN key and kept the caps lock in its original position. In essence, the keyboard is amazing. Mice and external keyboards work just fine, as do flash drives and external hard drives. External DVD/CD drives don't, however. The SD card slot is a nice touch I never saw myself using so much. Using that, I can take my D90's SD card and upload all of the pictures to Flickr (1TB free).
Google Drive works fairly well as an Office replacement. However, if you're looking for better Office integration, Microsoft Office Live (Part of SkyDrive) works very well. Also, if your business uses Zoho, you're in luck as well. I haven't used it for school yet since it is summer, but I look forward to using this laptop in the upcoming school year. Since most/all college campuses have wifi everywhere available to students, I'm sure this laptop's network limitations will not affect most people. I am actually writing this review offline using the built in Scratchpad app. As a sidenote, Scratchpad is the only application other than the file browser that operates outside of the Chrome browser, allowing you to have a mini Stickies style note application.
SAMSUNG VS ACER CHROMEBOOK:
The Acer Chromebook is pretty much a Windows netbook with Chrome OS jammed on it. It is not optimized for Chrome OS like the Samsung is. It also includes a much slower hard drive, but the processor is Intel and the RAM is upgradeable to 4GB. It is also far worse build quality, has a glossy screen, and poor keyboard. I personally would spend 50 dollars more to get the Samsung as it is thinner, lighter, better build, faster, and more reliable.
This is an awesome value for me. It is lightyears better than my netbook, and I haven't touched my desktop since I got the Chromebook. It has also helped me get over my Minecraft addiction a little... You really can't go wrong with this as a good computer for home and travel use. I would also recommend this for kids, it is cheap, sturdy, easy to use, and parental control extensions are available in the Web Store, and many filters are available as DNS servers for an entire network. Overall, you can't go wrong for 250 dollars, I highly recommend this to anyone.
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Showing 1-3 of 3 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Jul 15, 2013 12:33:19 AM PDT
Love this review - direct, precise, blunt, and to the point! Very well done.
Posted on Aug 13, 2013 7:54:53 AM PDT
Lisa M Woods says:
You mentioned parental controls are good on this. Do mind elaborating a bit? I am in the market for a first computer for my 11 year old son, and there is plenty of stuff online I want to block.
In reply to an earlier post on Aug 13, 2013 5:51:09 PM PDT
J. Black says:
There is a free extension on the Chrome Web Store called Blocksi that works as a web filter. You can block sites from it, however, depending on how tech savvy your son is, he may be able to get around the filter through Incognito Mode (most people do not know how to do this). Also, OpenDNS is another option that blocks sites throughout the entire network and any devices connected to it. However, that is harder to set up, and probably will only work for those more acquainted with the way computers work.
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