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Samsung Chromebook Pro

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Summary

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Key Features

  • 12.3-inch quad-HD display
  • Rotating hinge
  • Google Play Store ready
  • Pen
  • 400 nits of brightness
  • 4GB RAM
  • USB-C
  • 32GB storage
  • 1.07kg
  • Manufacturer: Samsung
  • Review Price: to be confirmed

Hands-on: The future of Android tablets

Samsung Chromebook Plus and Pro Price: $449 (Plus) $TBA (Pro)

Samsung Chromebook Plus and Pro Release date: January (Plus) TBA (Pro) (no word on UK release yet)

I have been walking around the halls of CES 2017 for a few days now, and there’s pretty much a new product in every category. TVs, phones, fridges, washing machines, cameras, watches and so on; but there are barely any tablets. I haven’t spotted a decent Android tablet anywhere.

Now is the time to admit that Android tablets in their current form are dead. And that’s not a bad thing, because they’re rubbish. Google Pixel C and a couple of Amazon Fire tabs aside, there’s simply no reason to buy one.

Related: Samsung Galaxy S8 rumours

chromebook 15

But the future of Android tablets is here. And it’s Chromebooks, just like this one from Samsung.

Samsung has unveiled two Chromebooks at CES 2017, but the only thing differentiating the Pro and the Plus is that the latter uses an ARM CPU rather than Intel Core m3. Everything else is the same.

That means you’ll get a magnesium alloy laptop, with a 360-degree hinge that flips the screen round and into a tablet mode. It looks fine, nothing sublime, but it's light and importantly feels well made if a little on the plastic side. The hinge motion is smooth and it’s not too thick when using it in tablet mode, something I often find with these hybrids.

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The rounded sides give way to a decent port selection, and it’s almost laughable to think this Chromebook has more ports than a MacBook 12-inch. A USB-C port adorns each side and while neither is Thunderbolt 3 enabled, both can be used for charging and 4K video output. There’s also a headphone jack, microSD slot and a little cubby hole for the included digitiser stylus.

The stylus here reminds me a lot of the S-Pen from a Galaxy Note, and it works in a similar way. It doesn’t need to be charged, or manually connected, but still feels accurate and responsive when drawing or taking notes.

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And the 12.3-inch, 2,400 x 1,600 display is the perfect canvas for the pen. Like pretty much every Samsung screen it’s stunningly colourful, with 400 nits of brightness and great contrast. There’s a nice balance between saturated colours and accuracy, which makes this ideal for media and games.

But what really makes this Chromebook standout is how well it works with the Google Play Store.

It’s not the first to have access to Google’s store of movies, apps, games and music but it’s the built specifically for it. Navigating the store feels like you’re on a phone, but apps themselves open in windows – rather than taking over the whole screen – so you can open multiple at once and spread them out over the display. It’s so much less restrictive than your typical Android tablet.

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Apps are smooth too, and the Pro model with an Intel m3 CPU handled everything I threw at it with ease. I tried the Plus version too, which uses an unnamed ARM chipset and will cost $449, and it equally seemed nippy. There’s 4GB RAM, and 32GB of onboard storage. Samsung claims both models will get 10 hours of use, and the models I was testing showed 5.5 hours remaining with 50% battery left.

My only slight issue is with the keyboard and trackpad. Neither struck me as 'excellent'. The keyboard is fine, but a little bit mushy and soft while the trackpad is sticky and not terribly responsive. I'll have to use the device a bit longer to know whether these will be dealbreakers.

Samsung Chromebook Pro and Plus: First impressions

There’s a lot to like about Samsung’s new Chromebooks, and I think they’re the perfect Android tablet replacement. The screen is great, battery seems decent and there’s enough grunt under the hood to get the job done.

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paradroid2

January 7, 2017, 11:26 am

Why not do a windows version also? I think it would be a lot like a SP4 but with real keyboard. Also, footprint measurement are missing.

Word Merchant

January 7, 2017, 3:08 pm

The future of fire-starting more like.

Keith Llewellyn

January 7, 2017, 4:11 pm

They have made a Windows version.

Blake Fair

January 9, 2017, 10:40 am

I had been looking forward to this Chromebook ever since it was leaked but now I am so disappointed to see the lack of a backlit keyboard. This would have been the perfect Chromebook for me but I shall continue my wait for one that marks off all the categories.

Dennis Jacobs

January 16, 2017, 4:42 am

No HDMI port? No way! I'll never buy one without the ability to put it on the big screen.

CORRECTION: Looks like it supports video on USB-C: "The Chromebook Plus and Pro have upgraded its ports, and now includes two USB-C ports for enhanced connectivity and 4k video streaming, producing high quality video and gaming from the Chromebook on connected 4k displays."

Dennis Jacobs

January 17, 2017, 1:34 pm

Looks like it supports video on USB-C: "The Chromebook Plus and Pro have upgraded its ports, and now includes two USB-C ports for enhanced connectivity and 4k video streaming, producing high quality video and gaming from the Chromebook on connected 4k displays."

Martyn

January 18, 2017, 11:37 am

It does have the ability to put it on a big screen - just get a USB-C - HDMI adaptor or cable.

compwagon

January 19, 2017, 3:52 pm

I absolutely agree. Backlit keyboard was the one missing piece in the Plus -- I was about to pull the trigger before I found it missing that, now I'm hoping maybe it will come in the Pro (the review didn't specifically mentioned that the Pro *doesn't* have it, nor have any others I've seen)?

Blake Fair

January 19, 2017, 4:00 pm

From what I've read, they are identical except for the processors. Makes me believe that we are out of luck for backlighting.

Marc Plante

January 19, 2017, 7:55 pm

Blake if you want a backlit keybaord buy the Asus. The issue I see with that device is the 1080 screen. If you're using heavily as a notebook, that's fine, but I plan on heavy tablet use, which makes Samsung's 3:2 screen more attractive.

JVic

January 20, 2017, 1:01 am

You could consider purchasing keyboard stickers. They pick up light from the screen and reflect it. Lots of products like this on Amazon with good reviews.

Dr. Heinz

January 31, 2017, 5:23 am

If the Pro model is reasonably priced I may be getting a new Chromebook. Have been on the Chromebook OS system now for close to 15 months and I'm liking it more and more because I continue to figure out the work around's. There is a learning curve and if people stick with it will discover it's all doable and you don't need an internet connection all the time.

But my #1 like is the Security, it's Linux based but it's controlled source. And no operating system comes even close. My worry would be if allowing Android apps onto the Chromebook will compromise that. Google claims it won't because they are going to sandbox them so it can't get anywhere near the Chrome OS. So if this is the case then if the Pro model is reasonably priced I may get a new Chromebook.

I will say I am very pleased Google went the other way and did not scrap the Chrome OS. Android alone is a disaster that even makes Microsoft look secure.

Yakinabe

February 6, 2017, 11:01 pm

I don't think so. The Tab S is a detachable tablet, not a 360-degree hinged device. The Notebook-7 Spin has inferior specs (heavier, only FHD resolution, no S-pen).

John Nemesh

February 16, 2017, 5:58 pm

Or use a Chromecast...

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