Samsung Series 5 Chromebook Review - HotHardware

Samsung Series 5 Chromebook Review

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While Chrome OS itself will be a major focal point of this review, there's not much point in digging into the software without a solid piece of hardware to run it. We're pleased to say that the hardware of the Series 5 is seriously top-shelf, and really impresses.


It's important to point out the Wi-Fi only model of this machine runs $429. That's not "cheap." It's not even on the lower end of the pricing scale when looking at netbooks and other Atom-based machines. It's actually a solid chunk of change when compared to many other $299 netbooks with similar screen sizes and a non-cloud OS, like Windows 7. In fact, Samsung gets away with not even having a hard drive in this thing; being that it's mostly cloud-based, there's little need for an HDD to store things locally, considering that no file system (as we've learned to think about a "file system") is present here. In other words, there's no "local file storage," which is why there's no advertised hard drive capacity. The only storage here is a 16GB mSATA SSD to hold the essential files needed for Chrome OS itself to run.


In other words, you're paying a price premium for the hardware. But at least it's obvious. The shiny white lid is just beautiful (a darker hue will be shipping shortly), and it contrasts nicely with the black bottom and black inner portions. It's also wildly thin and incredibly light; just like you'd expect a netbook-class device to be. It's highly portable, but the 12.1" display gives you more screen real estate (and in turn, larger keys below it) than cramped 10" machines.

The display is encircled by a glossy black bezel and a 1.0MP webcam at the top, while the keyboard area is totally matte. There's a non-backlit keyboard that uses the standard "square key" layout instead of the suddenly popular "chicklet" variation. Beneath the keys is a very wide trackpad that resembles the glass trackpads on newer MacBook Pro machines. There's no right/left click buttons; the entire pad depresses, and it supports multi-gesture movements as well.


Along the right edge, you'll find a SIM card slot (for inserting your own AT&T, T-Mobile or other carrier SIM for global 3G use), and a single USB 2.0 port. The rear is home to no ports at all, while the left edge has an AC power input, a heat exhaust vent, a video output (a VGA dongle is included in the box), another USB 2.0 port and a 3.5mm combo jack that works as a mic input or a headphone port. The front edge is home to an SD card slot.


Back to the keyboard and trackpad -- Samsung really nailed these. The typing experience is excellent. It feels like we have more space to type on the Series 5 than on the XPS 15z or MacBook Pro. The key travel is ideal, and we had no issues all, even after writing this entire review right on the device. The trackpad is also a gem. It's HUGE, which is hard to find on a device of this size. The fact that the entire pad clicks down is also a boon, and it worked great in practice. The multi-gesture support was hit-or-miss, but mostly hit. We rarely had any wonky moments (but we did have a few!). That said, the two-finger scrolling on documents and Web pages worked well the majority of the time, and that's more than most sub-$500 machines can say. We should also point out that there are no palm rest stickers to speak of. This is hugely refreshing, and it's a movement that we wish would sweep the netbook/notebook industry.


The 12.1" panel has a 1280x800 screen resolution, which is par for the course. However, it uses a matte panel rather than a glossy one, which is remarkably easy on the eyes. It also has fantastic viewing angles, and it played back high-definition YouTube clips wonderfully. We really wish more companies would consider matte displays; they really are superior for those who use their machines in daylight, which is just about everyone we know.


All in all, we can't say enough good things about the hardware. It's rigid, beautiful, and well-constructed. It features a few subtle things that few other machines in this class feature, and it's those things that make using it such solid piece of hardware. Now, onto software.

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Sounds like a good work in progress. Google just needs to iron out a few things and they could have a real winner on their hands, It looks pretty sleek and with WiFi continuously expanding internet could be less of a concern down the road. Thanks for the review :)

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Mhm... it'll be a few years before this even picks up. Feels like everyone is jumping upon the "cloud"... the kinks still need to be worked out... but we're on good track.

I think my university has been looking into this for some time... cloud based OS for their general tasks. Would be pretty cool if they can host their own customized version of ChromeOS on their own servers for students to use. Something like that, its possible.

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I see very little that's actually better than going the cheaper Win7 road. It would be alright to be handicapped by the software if the price was lower than a Win 7 laptop but it's the complete opposite. Even as someone who likes Google I can't even recommend this to anyone. I wouldn't even give the HH Approved stamp.

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Chromebooks are great, at least mine is for me. I have access to all of my files wherever I am, and have apps for photo editing, word processing, and just about anything else I used my last laptop for. Plus, it's up and running in far less time than what a Windows or OS X machine takes. Connectivity isn't an issue for me, as I have access to WiFi at home and work, can run a wireless tether of my Android phone's 4G connection, and have the free 100mb of 3G per month via Verizon when all else fails. The only thing I can't do on my Chromebook is play graphic intensive video games...which I couldn't care less about.

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I have one too and my experience is pretty much the same as DMcVey. I knew what I was getting into with it, but between various wifi sources, using my mobile hotspot on my Thunderbolt, and the built-in 3G for those rare times when nothing else is available it's no problem being always connected.

So far I'm very happy with it.

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It isn't worth the premium price point.

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I would love to buy a browser! :D lol that's basically what ur getting and for the price it dosn't seem to justify. But hey if you want it :)

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It does cost a little too much, but I love it!!!! It should only get better over time! I do not get those criticizing it for being only web, mostly because I am always on the web. There are a few things to iron out, but no real problems or even annoyances yet It is fast in every way, which make it significantly better than WIN7 devices and with a win7 device I am going to turn it on and use nothing but a chrome browser, so no advantage there.

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If we all lived in a world with great net infrastructure and constant, cheap, always-on connectivity then this would be a no-brainer. Just carry your docs on USB flash drives which are getting bigger and cheaper.

However, we aren't there yet. The fact that connectivity isn't there yet will hamper this product (in fact, it has).

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Just found them at Amazon for $350.00, but it's still too much money for so little real capability.

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