Why I need it
When The Worst Neighbors in the World (TM) live next door to you, and you spend a lot of time online, you need to leave home from time to time. Desktops are too clumsy outside.
For many people, it's their laptop or tablet or smartphone they take along with them. Tablets look great, but their keyboards are wonky. I don't want to hold 2 different things at once. I can't possibly eat that way.
I do enjoy my HTC One V phone (I used to say I loved it), and it's a great camera and screen. But internet is a little slow and there's just no way I can work on it, since I'm a multi-tab fiend.
That leaves a laptop. So, soon after TWNIW moved in, I started looking at laptops. SIGH. They all have Windows 8, so no, thanks. (And I don't discuss fruit like Apple on this site, sorry, no matter how many people claim they're good for you.)
Samsung Chromebook: the dets
It didn't take long to realize that Chromebooks are not laptops, and are born of the Master of the
Underworld Internet, Google.
Describing Chromebooks as netbooks wasn't helpful, since I didn't know anything about them.
Engadget explains netbooks in their review:
Netbooks, meanwhile, have come a long way in terms of keyboard comfort and overall performance, but you won't find anything of this quality for $249. Additionally, of course, they have the advantage of being able to run lots of legacy Windows apps. If you think you need desktop programs, though, you shouldn't even be considering a Chromebook... Given that there aren't any similarly nice netbooks in this price range, it's easier to forgive the Chromebook's shortcomings and recommend it as a cheap, secondary computer.
Here's the only thing the Chromebook does, but it does it very well: get online fast Google does offer Google Docs for anything you want to write and keep in the Cloud, and it has Picasa for your pictures. Can you store them there, too? I don't know. Then, there's Google Drive. Which Google just shanghaied my Gmail to tell me, as they do a lot lately, and FORCE me to say I've read it. Of course, I ignore it. I don't learn well with gavage, Google. Look that up on Google.
There's no software, nor can you add software or programs -- only apps in the Chrome store. One sales guy at Best Buy added, "But they don't have the good apps, like tablets and the iPad do."
The biggest sacrifice for me is no Photoshop on the Chromebook. That is bad. But you have to think of the experience, and the purpose of a new tool. I'm not going to be all hardcore with my cartoons, sitting out on the deck or at a coffee shop. I want to surf, network dogs on Facebook, and make some notes. (Talking about coffee shops, here's another important point: it only runs with Wifi.)
I was still very interested, even after learning all this, so I ran to Best Buy to check them out. Google has set up special reps in Best Buy just to explain and sell Chromebooks, it turns out! Nice to have that personal, dedicated help, yet odd to think they need them, to sell it.
I've been there 3 times, and the Google woman has never happened to be there, but I played with the Chromebook anyway. Ooh, cute! And the keyboard...love it! Really well-designed, and even standing up, I think my typing is better than on my desktop at home. It just felt right. I kept thinking it was a touchscreen, but it's not. I read that the trackpad is very good, but I don't have enough experience using that to tell.
The thing is...that screen. It's kind of bad. I just couldn't read it very well, and the one wallpaper looked washed out. And the viewing angle is so strange, I can only see it properly pushed all the way open. It has good balance, but I was a little concerned, pushing it all the way to the back.
Turns out the problem is nits, as in screen brightness. It only has 200 nits, while the earlier version had 300.
I asked a couple different Best Buy reps if the Chromebooks had a big return rate. "All the time," both said frankly. "They return it in a couple of days. They don't know how it works."
As it turns out, 2 days after I started to research this thing...can I call it a laptop?... a friend on Facebook said she had just bought one at the store, to replace her ailing laptop. Then, silence. Then, a halting post that she couldn't upload or process her usual photos every day. More silence. Finally, she announced her son had fixed her laptop and the Chromebook had been returned to the store.
Well, no one said people have gotten any smarter, just because they're online now.
More hardware specs
- Model Number: XE303C12
- Display Size: 11.6-inches
- Display: 1366x768 resolution; 200nit brightness
- Weight: 2.43 lbs (1.1.kg)
- Less than 0.8 inches thick (17.5 mm)
- Battery Life: over 6.5 hours
- Processor:Samsung Exynos 5250
- Memory: 2GB
- Storage: 16GB SSD (Google is including 100GB free online storage)
- Ports: 1 USB 3.0, 1 USB 2.0, combo headphone/mic jack, secure digital memory slot
- HDMI Port
- Bluetooth 3.0 Compatible
- Speaker: 1.5W speaker X 2
- Keyboard: Full-size Chrome keyboard
- Wireless: 802.11 abg/n 2x2
Other Chromebook Reviews
James Kendrick, at ZDnet.com went pretty much ga-ga over the Samsung Chromebook! He agrees with me about the delectably tactile keyboard.
The keyboard on this Chromebook is really good, an important attribute for this writer. Key travel is great and the chiclet keys are comfortable for fast typing.
He said he knows the screen is not as bright as it could be, but it doesn't bother him, as it does me.
I've also been researching and store testing the Amazon Kindle Fire and the Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 (I like the white one!). Both had superb screens and abilities I liked. I got a little crush on the Note when I tried out the stylus and did some drawing! It was really fun, and I called Wacom the next day to ask them why my Wacom Intuos isn't that much fun.
I still wanted the keyboard attached, however. I also took a good look at the Chromebook Pixel. It's very attractive. I really like the touchscreen, although the keyboard didn't feel as good to me as the Samsung ARM. The reviewer said,
Viewing angles are superb, and the screen isn't overly reflective. The display is bright, 400 nit, same as Surface Pro, and makes the $249 Samsung ARM Chromebook's 200-nit seem like a candle to light bulb.
Me so jealous.
Amusingly, the writer also gets up in the face of the NY Times tech writer in the article, for not being aware of, and in awe of , the Cloud and future possibilities. :) Tech fight!
Every review I read suggested this as a good laptop for students or kids. Methinks some of them drank the Google PR juice. Students need memory to store things, and programs to get things done., don't they?
One sales rep at Fry's told me he thinks Chromebooks are toys. :) So maybe they are for some kids. But I'm a kid at heart, so gimme, Samsung... once you've punched up the screen and make it more viewable.
Pros and Cons of Samsung Chromebook
- Great keyboard
- Price makes it so beautiful
- I would like the challenge of working only in the Cloud
- Battery lasts a long time
- Screen is too dim, with very bad viewing angles
- Touch would be very nice
- That no Photoshop thing
- No Delete Key. I don't understand this at all. Am I the only one who makes mistakes?
- The speedbump on the back where it sticks out. I never noticed this. I don't care a whit. I'm just mentioning this because a couple of the reviews did. It's their way of nitpicking.
I care only about the nits.
* After I finished writing this I found the Chromebook has already been upgraded in one sense: it's now going to be sold all over - Walmart, Staples, Office Depot. (When I went in Staples a couple of weeks ago, they didn't know what a Chromebook was. :) )
The one in Walmart is only $100, but it's the Acer one. I want Samsung.
In the Techcrunch article the writer says he doesn't know if this general rollout is a good idea, because "he's not sure if the laptop is selling". It's #1 in Amazon! One of the commenters there added,
yeah sure, if you want to do HOURS of research : )