Samsung Series 5 Chromebook Review

Introduction and Specifications

Google's Chrome OS came close to being labeled vaporeware after its highly publicized initial announcement, at least by some. But at Google, there was never any doubt about its future. Just as they have done with the Chrome Web browser, Google has poured tons of resources into Chrome OS. It's a radical system, no matter how you slice it. It's the world's first commercially available desktop operating system that relies almost entirely in the cloud. That alone takes a moment to digest.

This whole thing started last year with the introduction of the CR-48. That little black laptop shipped out to a select group of early adopters (around 65,000 machines) who put the very first Chrome OS builds through their paces. It was new. It was refreshing. It was different. But was it cut out for mainstream use? In Google's mind, the answer was always "yes." They then took the next half-year to respond to criticisms from the CR-48 launch, and at this year's Google I/O conference, out popped two more Chrome OS-based laptops, dubbed Chromebooks. Acer's AC700 and Samsung's Series 5 were first out of the gate, eager to take on the public and give them a taste of what it's like to live in the cloud.

Samsung beat Acer to the punch in terms of shipments; the first Series 5 machines started shipping in the U.S. in June of 2011, and that's the unit that we're reviewing here. It's a white model with built-in Verizon Wireless 3G (100MB provided "free" for two years). Let's take a look at the specifications, which are actually dictated by Google to ensure a solid, reliable experience to users across machines.

Samsung Series 5 Chromebook
Specifications and Features (as tested)
  • Intel Atom N570 (1.66GHz; Dual-Core)
  • 2GB of DDR3 RAM
  • 12.1" LCD (1280x800) 300-nit Matte Display
  • 16GB mSATA SSD
  • Dual-band 802.11a/b/g/n Wi-Fi
  • No Optical Drive
  • Video Output (VGA dongle included)
  • USB 2.0 x 2
  • 3.5mm Combo Jack (Headphone/Mic)
  • SD / MMC / SDHC / SDXC Multimedia card reader
  • Clickable Multi-Gesture Trackpad
  • 1.0MP Webcam
  • Stereo Speakers
  • 3.73 Pounds / 4.5lbs with external battery
  • SIM Card Slot (3G Model Only)
  • Non-removable 6-cell battery (up to 8.5 claimed hours)
  • 11.6" x 8.6" x 0.8"
  • 3.26 Pounds
  • Chrome OS
  • 100MB VZW 3G Data Per Month for 2 Years (3G Model Only)
  • Price (as tested): $499
  • Price (starting): $429
  • 1-Year Warranty

The Series 5 Chromebook is an interesting device. It's definitely somewhat alien, but then again, what else would we say about a notebook with an operating system that flies in the face of traditional convention? Chrome OS breaks into an entirely new world, so we're going to do our best in the pages to come to describe what it's like living in the cloud, and who the Chromebook is really cut out for.

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