Samsung has released a premium Galaxy Samsung Chromebook. It has many opportunities, but there are also problems that we will discuss in the review.
Who buys $ 1,000 Chromebooks? This is the first question users have had when discussing these devices since the Google Pixel book was introduced in 2017. They will be asking the same question now that Samsung’s Galaxy Chromebook is on sale.
In a market crowded with laptops that are getting thinner and faster every year, the benefits of Chromebooks usually come in the form of longer battery life and price. Today there are a number of companies that make devices designed to compete with Windows laptops. Their starting price is usually less than $ 650, and many manufacturers (like ASUS) offer Chromebooks starting at $ 500 or less.
Samsung has taken responsibility for the things that have traditionally been ironclad arguments for buying a Chromebook. The company is making it clear that it has a different vision of what a Chrome OS product could be – a premium device for power users. We should probably thank Samsung for such a bold attempt, but, unfortunately, it failed. Experienced users should wait a little longer before purchasing this $ 999 Chromebook.
Table of Contents
I’ll start with the good. The Galaxy Chromebook has several standout features. Most notable is what Samsung and Google call Craftsmanship. It is the thinnest Chromebook in the world, at just 9.9mm thick and weighing just over 1kg. The body is made of aluminum and is painted in one of two colors: gray or bright red. I ended up with the later version with silver inserts on the sides, which make the device more modern and stylish. It looks amazing. The only thing I doubt is the strength of the swivel joint that rotates the screen 360 °. Each time you touch the screen with your finger or stylus, it flexes slightly.
The keyboard is nearly flat, but the keys themselves and the palm rests are so nice that you can put up with very low key travel. The trackpad feels a bit stiffer compared to some premium Windows laptops, but the smooth finish makes it comfortable to use. An unusual decision by Samsung designers was the placement of the camera in the upper left corner of the keyboard. When folded (in tablet mode), you can use the device to take photos and videos, and the screen will act as a viewfinder. I don’t know how many people would really want to use a Chromebook with an 8MP camera for this, but I find it amusing, especially during video chats.
First Chromebook with 4K OLED screen
Another hit (and the main reason for the high price tag) is the display. This is the first Chromebook to feature a stunning 4K OLED screen with vibrant colors that makes even the Mac Book Pro’s screen look slightly faded. It is glossy, but the picture is so good that glare is barely noticeable. Everyone knows 4K screens reduce battery life, and this device is no exception, but more on that later.
The Samsung Chromebook uses Google’s Ambient Colors feature to adjust the color temperature of the display to suit your surroundings. This makes it easier for the eyes to perceive the image on the screen, especially at night. But my favorite thing about this Chromebook is the stylus. It is similar to the S Pen that comes with the Galaxy Note and is stored in a special opening located on the side. The stylus of Samsung Chromebook glides very smoothly across the screen, you quickly get used to it and start using it instead of the trackpad in all work scenarios: from normal page scrolling to moving sentences in documents. You can do fun things with the stylus, but unlike the S Pen, they all boil down to the obvious.
you can use the stylus as an on-screen magnifying glass or laser pointer during presentations. With its help, you can take a screenshot of the selected part of the screen and immediately add a note. In addition, there are a number of stylus apps on Google Play that expand the range of applications.
The Galaxy Chromebook’s specs put it on par with decent Windows laptops. It is equipped with an Intel Core i5-10210U processor, 8GB of LPDDR3 RAM, and 256GB of storage. It’s surprising that the manufacturer is using DDR3 instead of DDR4, but I doubt most people will notice the difference on a Chromebook. Samsung initially announced additional configurations for the device, which include up to 16GB of RAM and 1TB of storage, but these seem to remain in the company’s plans.
Keyboard and Touch Panel
The backlit keyboard on the Galaxy Chromebook is reminiscent of Apple’s nearly extinct Butterfly keyboards. Stay tuned because the Galaxy Chromebook’s low-profile keys are exactly what the Mac keys were meant to be, not what they actually turned out to be.
Yes, the key travel is very shallow, and you can feel it as stiff during extended typing sessions, but these are disadvantages that are difficult to notice without experience due to the crisp click feedback and key size. Unlike the 13-inch Mac Book Pro keyboard, we continued to feel the keys move up and down, and they also didn’t stop registering.
Testing by 10FastFingers.com, the Samsung Chromebook keyboard returned 121 wpm with 95% accuracy, slightly above the 119 wpm average.
The 4.6 x 2.3-inch touchpad is smooth and responsive. The bright red surface responded instantly to movement, and there were no issues with Chrome OS gestures, including three-finger gestures to switch Chrome tabs and two-finger scrolling.
Samsung Galaxy Chromebook: S-Pen
There is no excuse for them. Every 2-in-1 laptop should hide the integrated stylus in a dedicated compartment for it. If Samsung was able to integrate the stylus into a 10mm laptop, every manufacturer should adopt this feature.
Again, Samsung Chromebook has thought through the details again. The rectangular S-Pen fits into the slot from different positions, so you don’t have to rotate the stylus before sending it to the garage. We loved the nice click you hear when you insert the pin.
The stylus is good. There are no artists among us, but the S Pen is definitely not to blame for the bad drawings sketched with the paint program. And while it’s small and thin, we found the stylus to be comfortable to hold, and the sensitive tip lets you change line thickness on the fly.
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Samsung Galaxy Chromebook Specifications
- Processor: Intel Core i5-10210U.
- RAM: 8GB LPDDR3.
- Storage: SSD 256 GB.
- Display: OLED, 13.3 inches, touch, 4K resolution (3840 × 2160 pixels).
- Camera: 1 Mp (front), 8 Mp (in the keyboard area).
- Battery: 49.2 W ∙ h.
- Weight: 1.03 kg.
- Thickness: 0.96 cm.
- Connection interfaces: 2 USB Type-C, 3.5 mm jack, microSD card reader, Wi-Fi 6 (Gig +), 802.11ax 2 × 2.
The good news is that the 10th Gen Intel Core i5 can handle a fairly heavy load with ease. The computer never freezes, nothing suddenly closes. With 20 tabs open in Chrome and 7 Android apps (Slack, Twitter, G mail, Spotify, Facebook, Reedit, and Google Drive), everything worked fine. Google Assistant was also responsive: it perfectly understood all my voice commands and, when necessary, participated in the dialogue.
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The bad news is that while keeping performance high, the Galaxy Chromebooks get quite hot. There is no fan in it, and the passive cooling system does not always cope with its task. There were times when you could open 17 tabs in the browser, launch several applications and work calmly, but it also happened that the device was very hot from six tabs or even three open tabs and one Slack application. So that you understand, “getting very hot” is when it becomes uncomfortable to work on it, especially if the Samsung Chromebook is on your lap. By closing the browser or program, the temperature quickly returns to normal. This is unpleasant, but not a decisive factor. What’s sadder is the battery life.
You didn’t think 8 million pixels on a 4K screen work on their own, do you? Samsung claims eight hours of battery life, but I got 4 hours and 20 minutes on a single charge, switching between multiple apps and Chrome tabs with 50% screen brightness. Four hours 20 minutes is a terrible result. In fact, you get about two hours of energy for every hour of charging. This thing will spend a third of its life cycle charging. In other words, this is extremely unacceptable for a $ 999 Chromebook and for a $ 400 device too. Samsung clearly thinks battery life is a compromise for a fancy display. And perhaps it is if you are not going to take this thing anywhere with you.
Android is still lame on Chrome OS.
Let’s talk about Chrome OS. If your Galaxy Chromebook‘s use case doesn’t go beyond web apps, you get a fast and stylish typewriter. Even in tablet mode these days, you can work quite comfortably. Google hasn’t made any big changes to the system that consumers might like, but Linux support has definitely improved. Don’t forget that Chrome OS already supports Android apps.
The situation with Android apps is much better now, but three years later, the mess is still visible on Chrome OS. Facebook Messenger is a separate topic altogether. Whenever I received a messenger notification while working in Chrome, the browser would immediately freeze. You had to sign in and out of your Google account to start it up again.
Such problems are unacceptable, but the Google system has certain advantages. For example, instead of the browser versions, I prefer the simpler interfaces of the Last Pass and Google Maps apps, and some Android apps like 1Weather, Podcast Addict, and Solid Explorer don’t have a web version but work fine on Galaxy Chromebooks.
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Ultimately, the responsibility for releasing the $ 999 product lies with Samsung and Google. I doubt this Samsung Chromebook’s shortcomings come as a surprise to both companies. I think they know very well that their device does not have impressive cooling or incredible battery life. By releasing the product in this state, they decided that users would find all these shortcomings acceptable, having received in return an AMOLED display, excellent assembly, and attractive design. But not me. Undoubtedly, the 4K screen looks great, but the laptop with killer features should be laptops and everything else.
That said, to Samsung’s credit, this is the nicest Chromebook I’ve come across. It looks and feels great. A stylus, a camera, a keyboard – everything indicates that Samsung has tried hard to develop this unique device. But the $ 999 price tag makes it not only one of the most expensive in its class, but also among regular laptops such as the Microsoft Surface Pro X, Surface Laptop 3, and Apple MacBook Air, which also start at $ 999. At the same time, Galaxy Chromebooks do not directly compete with these models.
First of all, this is a good screen, reliable operation, and acceptable autonomy. Samsung did an excellent job with the first two to the detriment of the third. It is possible that someone is willing to pay for this, but certainly not $ 1,000.