Samsung Series 5 Chromebook: Review

The Samsung Series 5 Chromebook is a fine cloud client – but users may find it hard to adapt to the lack of local storage

I’ve been playing with a loaner version of the Samsung Series 5 Chromebook for a week and the 3.3-pound notebook based on Google’s Chrome operating system is everything I expected it to be.

That is, a more polished version of the Chrome OS version running on the Cr-48 experimental computer I tested last December packed in a superior hardware shell.

A more polished product

Unveiled at Google I/O in May, the Samsung Series 5 Chromebook goes on sale June 15 from Amazon.com and Best Buy online in two flavors: $429 for the WiFi-only version and $499 for a machine with a 3G radio with 100MB of monthly data allotment from Verizon Wireless for two years. Consumers may purchase more data from Verizon at their leisure.

I tested the arctic white model, which was nice, though I actually prefer the device in a more manly titan silver. The Chromebook, which measures 11.6 inches wide, 0.8 inches thick and 8.6 inches deep, has a glossy finish compared to the velvety matte finish of the Cr-48 I tested last December.

The top lid has the Samsung and Chrome branding, with the Chrome emblem raised on the lid, like a bold hood ornament. Hefting the device for the first time, I was struck by its weight, which is funny because I have a Lenovo ThinkPad T60 workhorse that feels like it weighs twice as much.

When I wondered why the Chromebook struck me as heavy, I realised the only computing devices I regularly haul around at home are my Motorola Droid X and my Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1, which weigh 5-plus ounces and 1.25 pounds, respectively. Of course the Chromebook felt heavy at first, but it’s really not.

Trackpad is an improvement on the CR-48

Opening the lid produced the black, island-style keyboard with which I became familiar from the Cr-48. There were 74 keys, sitting in back of the spacious trackpad, which serves as the navigation and execution key for commands.

The top row of keys, which is a big differentiation point from any other notebook, include keys for Web browser control, including forward and back buttons, refresh, as well as keys for volume and brightness and full-screen toggle. Of course, there is the power button, which you can press and hold to put the machine to sleep or turn it off.

I’ll admit that I was leery of this trackpad, as it resembled the one on Cr-48 that was so poorly responsive to start last year, and right clicking with the required two fingers was a chore. My fears were later assuaged on this score.This trackpad is much more responsive. Still, right-clicking can be tricky if you’re used to having separate buttons to do this in Windows machines.

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