Lastly even if you are prepared to pay out for 3G then the breaks in service and erratic speeds you experience will affect Chrome OS more than any other platform. After all you cannot stream music with something like We7 and photo edit using, for example, Picnik without dragging these services to a standstill. This can be struggle enough on a decent broadband connection and makes multitasking on the move tough.
In fact everything consumes bandwidth, so even a game of Chrome’s optimised Angry Birds can kill your music while the poor GPU means it performs with more judder than you’ll find on a modern smartphone in any case. Meanwhile all the time you will also be checking your data consumption over 3G for fear of running up huge bills. This is when being able to cache music offline or natively install games would make a world of difference to Chrome OS and its uncompromising approach is sadly ahead of its time. On the one hand this isn’t Google’s fault, but on the other it does demonstrate its creators haven’t spent a great deal of time in the real world.
This is also the kind of scenario which leads to questions about Chrome OS as a whole. After all Android 3.0 (Honeycomb) has a full screen tabbed Chrome web browser, but it also supports local music and apps with far greater functionality than can be found on the web. Wrap Android 3.0 into a Samsung Chromebook with a better GPU and lower RRP and we could have had something really special.
We come back to the question central to the start of this review: how do you use your computer? If you wish solely to consume online content then the beautiful design of the Samsung Chromebook arguably lets you do this with more grace than a tablet or netbook and it has superb battery life. For technophobes it also offers a get up and go solution that is unsurpassed in its simplicity.
The problem is theory does not live up to reality. Even more portable devices like smartphones and tablets use a mix of offline and online functionality to create far more powerful and flexible solutions making Chrome feel unnecessarily limited. Meanwhile the price of Samsung’s Chromebook pushes it towards budget laptop prices at which point you might as well buy one of those, install the Chrome browser on it to enjoy the best of both worlds.
There is huge promise in Chrome OS and Samsung’s Chromebook design only requires tweaking under the hood. As it stands, however, skimping on the Chromebook’s performance and combining that with the rigidly uncompromising vision of Chrome OS creates a fundamentally flawed freak that doesn’t quite fit in anywhere.
Score in detail
Battery Life 9