Review Roundup of Latest Chromebook From Google, Samsung

Google just announced a new Chromebook notebook computer from its hardware partner Samsung. The Chromebook Series 5 550 ($449 for Wi-Fi only; $549 for Wi-Fi and 3G) runs up to three times faster than the first generation Chromebook that came out last year, supports hardware-accelerated graphics, and features an improved touchpad, Google says.

But what do the early reviewers say? Here’s a sampling.

Edward C. Baig, USA Today: “Chromebook…has a decent 12.1-inch display and weighs 3.3 pounds. Google says you'll get about six hours of continuous use off the battery, which seems reasonable based on how I employed the computer over a few days.”

Baig ran into several problems, however, such as the inability to connect a printer via cable and make it work. “Instead, you need to take advantage of Google's ‘cloud print’ service, if you have a compatible printer. I do have one but still ran into trouble. The workaround if you don't have such a printer requires you to have Chrome installed on a Windows PC, Mac or Linux machine that is connected to the printer.”

Baig adds that “Google is making available a Chrome Remote Desktop app, still in beta, that lets you access and control a remote PC or Mac desktop screen, and even display that desktop full-screen on the Chrome computer. I got Chromebook to control a remote Mac but had trouble on a Windows machine.”

CNET gave the latest Chromebook only 2 out of 5 stars, citing its “relatively high price, the need to always be online, and the general limitations of the Chrome OS.” Concludes CNET: “Despite solid hardware and a slightly improved Chrome OS, the Samsung Chromebook Series 5 550 comes with far too many caveats and compromises compared with similarly priced but more-capable tablets and laptops.”

Engadget’s Dana Wollman writes that “Google's fledgling OS is more pleasant to use than it was a year ago. What's less obvious, though, is to what extent the new Series 5 Chromebook is actually an improvement, and whether it's priced realistically compared to all those other affordable portable devices on the market.”

Wollman likes the new Ethernet jack, DisplayPort and “a much-improved touchpad” but notes that the previous Chromebook offered longer battery life. “If we sound unexcited, it's partly because this new hardware isn't a clear upgrade, even though the OS is more intuitive this time around,” Wollman writes.

The price tag “seems like a lofty figure, given how relatively little devices like this can actually do,” says Engadget. The latest Chromebook “and devices like it aren't likely to take a big bite out of the consumer market until someone decides to trim the price.”


Google, Samsung, Chromebook