I received the Samsung Chromebook from Staples in order to give a comprehensive review.
Let me introduce you to the Samsung Chromebook, a different kind of laptop that runs Google’s Chrome operating system. This means that it doesn’t have the same Windows or Apple-based layout that many of us are used to. It’s lighter in both weight and features, but that’s a very good thing. The Chromebook is meant to be your ultra-light and convenient laptop for getting online while on the go, perfect for high-school and college students.
The Chromebook is the Small, but Not Mini
The Samsung Chromebook is noticeably lighter than any laptop I’ve ever encountered. It’s like a next generation netbook. It’s screen is larger and it’s keyboard is wider than the ASUS netbook I bought a few years ago and yet it’s still considerably lighter. Typing on the Chromebook is a breeze and I don’t feel as cramped as I did on my old netbook. Sure, with an 11.6” screen it’ll look small next to your standard laptop, but it doesn’t feel tiny by any means. I think it’s a great size for portability (carrying in a backpack) and usefulness.
Aside from Chromebook’s surprisingly spacious keyboard, the mouse pad was easy to use and allows for scrolling, clicking and tapping. Lastly, the built-in webcam could come in handy in the future. It includes some neat out-of-the box effects to apply to your videos.
Most of the things I do on my laptop are done online. I’m a blogger and I run a few different websites. So I spend the majority of my time writing articles, checking email, editing images, and listening to music. I was able to do all of these easily with the Chromebook. The only thing I kind of missed was my photo editor (Paint.Net). I’m sure once I find a really good online image editor, I’ll be good to go.
As far as user-ability with students, this has the perfect combination of settings to be able to email, research for papers, and work on homework.
The Best Features of the Samsung Chromebook
Google Drive (Formerly Google Docs)
Google’s Drive is a near perfect alternative to having Microsoft Office or the Mac equivalent software. I’ve been using it for years and it’s been nice to have spreadsheets and documents saved somewhere that I can access anytime, anywhere. You can create documents (like Word), spreadsheets (like Excel), presentations (like Powerpoint), and more. The applications look and work very similar to the Microsoft Office applications they’re based on and they even open Office documents. This isn’t technically a feature of the Chromebook, but Drive’s existence makes a laptop like this viable since you won’t need a large operating system and software to download, just a browser!
Documents Are Saved Automatically In the Cloud
As you use Google Drive, like I am while writing this review, your documents are automatically saved as you work on them. Then, they’re available via any computer (or even Android smartphone) through Google Drive. So, if something were to happen to the Chromebook, my files would be safely stored in the cloud.
Using Chromebook Offline
Having a computer that’s mostly cloud-based with very little installed on its hardware sounds great until you remember that you’re not always online. Well, Chromebook can be used offline as well. I tested it out and I was able to use Chrome apps like Read Later Fast (which saves a copy of web pages so you can view them when you’re offline), an offline version of Gmail, and even games like an offline version of Angry Birds. In fact, there’s a whole category of offline apps in the Chrome Store.
Great Battery Life
With a 6.5 hours of battery life it greatly exceeds any other computer I’ve owned. For students, that feature will definitely come in handy as there aren’t always power outlets around when you need them.
Lightning Fast Boot Up & Shut Down
The Chromebook boots up fast. As soon as you open it, the screen turns on and the quick boot up process begins. You sign in with your Google account password and you’re on your way. Shutting down is also fast, great for quick transitions between classes.
Considerations: What the Samsung Chromebook’s Not Good For
I’d probably stop just short of making the Chromebook my only computer. It’s slim size means that it doesn’t have a disc drive. I seldom use the disc drive on my old laptop, but when I need to it’s nice to have. Mainly, I use it to rip tracks from my CDs.
There’s just a bit of a learning curve. It all depends on what you frequently do on your laptops, but you’ll have to be willing to research things just a bit. For example, I had to look up how to take a screenshot with my Chromebook (CTRL + Page Flipper Key) and also how to delete text (ALT + Backspace) as there’s no dedicated Delete key.
If you’re tied to some of your usual Windows or Apple applications, again, you’ll have to research alternatives. These days there are numerous free substitutions via the Chrome store. So, you shouldn’t have a problem, but it is a consideration. To me, these are only minor considerations, but I know that there are different types of computers users out there.
Chromebook is an Impressive Compact Laptop
In closing, the Samsung Chromebook has really impressed me. It’s the perfect computer for a student who wants a lightweight, compact (but not too small) laptop for doing things online like checking email, social networking, listening to music, and even document editing and creation with the Google Drive suite of office products. There’s very little that you can’t do on a Chromebook and the $250 price tag makes even more attractive.
For more details or to purchase one for your high-schooler or college student head to Staple’s website HERE.
Staples.com provided me with these products for review. The thoughts and opinions expressed are strictly my own. Feel free to shop their entire line of Chromebooks and laptops online.