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Performance & Setup

Gordon Kelly

By Gordon Kelly

Reviewed:

Summary

Our Score:

6

User Score:

Chrome OS is a lightweight, web-based operating system so you would think Samsung would know the deal: simple dual core processor (Atom N570 1.66Ghz - tick), usable amount of RAM (2GB - tick), minimal fast storage (as mentioned, 16GB SSD - tick), integrated 3G to make the Chrome usable on the move and decent graphics for all that Adobe Flash and HD streaming video you’ll be watching. Yes, we're missing ticks.

Strangely for a Cloud only device Samsung has made 3G an optional extra (a £50 one at that) and opted for Intel’s weedy integrated graphics. We’ll get onto price later, but the latter is doubly damaging because it struggles with 720p video and turns 1080p into a picture slide show, (hence no HDMI). It also lacks the power to take weight off the CPU’s processing duties exposing the limitations of the Atom N570 more than it should.

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A final query is weight. At 295 x 218 x 20mm the Chromebook is perfectly portable. At 1.48Kg it won’t tear a hole in your bag either, but with such minimal innards it is hard to see why it isn’t lighter still. So in sum Samsung has made an excellent laptop, but its performance is limited. Moving onto Chrome, the same allegations are true.

We’ll begin with the positives. Booting up is almost a thing of the past. From cold you can be using Chrome OS in five to eight seconds. Meanwhile resumption from standby is faster than you can open the lid and get your hands into a typing position. Google has long said Chrome isn’t a replacement for Android or a competitor to the iPad’s iOS, but it certainly gets you up and running.

For the technophobic setup is also a breeze. Simply choose your WiFi or (if purchased) 3G network, login with your Google account details (or create an account) and you are ready to go. Provided you already use Chrome and have setup its sync functionality, all your bookmarks, settings, passwords and extensions will be arranged exactly as you left them on your laptop. Any changes you make in Chrome OS will be automatically synced to your other PCs running the Chrome browser and vice versa.

This ease of use and cross device functionality provides a glimpse of the future and since no data is actually stored on the Chromebook it is also protected should anything go wrong with the laptop itself (see Google’s video above). Furthermore say goodbye to viruses.

ffrankmccaffery

July 9, 2011, 6:12 pm

My X61s Thinkpad weighs almost the and does the a whole lot more - and all without being beholden to Google too.

PoisonJam

July 10, 2011, 6:56 pm

I have an x40 ThinkPad, and while it's a joy to use it's really slow now and takes so long to boot. Since I only use it for browsing the web while I'm watching TV I'd like something that boots up a lot quicker. Unfortunately the price of these combined with the slow browsing performance ruins the appeal. Surely they should be cheaper since they don't need a Windows licence??

TR- you have "Chrome OS impractical outside the home" listed in the Pros column in the reviw summary.

Gordon394

July 11, 2011, 6:53 am

Thanks for that spot PoisonJam, the error was quickly corrected but the site is cached for long periods over the weekend. Hopefully it should show up soon.

Circa £250 with better graphics and Chrome OS has potential, but it is impossible to escape the feeling we have seen a glimpse at the future of computing ahead of its time.

Gordon394

July 11, 2011, 6:54 am

And your X61s cost a lot more new too ;)
The Chrome OS model is the future of computing, just not yet and likely not for a while.

Pbryanw

July 11, 2011, 7:34 am

@Gordon - I expect the price of future Chromebooks will come down to £250 if they prove popular, but I wonder if there's any idealogical reason why Google has decided everything must by stored in the Cloud, with no offline mode, or it's something that will change with future revisions of Chrome OS?

Although in the present, I think I prefer Apple's use of the Cloud, whereby documents/emails etc. are stored on your computer, with the cloud being used to push them to your devices. At least this way you're not as inconvenienced if the Cloud goes down, or you have no internet connection. Still, it's early days, and as you say this laptop may be a glimpse of a Cloud-dominated future.

ffrankmccaffery

July 11, 2011, 10:18 am

@Gordon: It certainly is although I like many I bought mine refurbished for a lot less. That said still no way should a limited notebook such as this weigh as much as a fully featured one.
@PoisonJam: Just close the lid of your Thinkpad and send it to sleep. I've been doing it for years.

simon jackson

July 11, 2011, 8:18 pm

I wouldn't go that far, Gordon. The future is likely somewhere between the "Chrome OS model" (which philosophically is no different to the old unix model of dumb terminals) and the conventional OS model. There will always be applications which it is simply more practical to install and run locally. Whilst wide area network bandwidth is getting better all the time, so applications are getting larger, more process intensive, and more demanding on memory. Applications which are several gigabyte installs will require that much data to be transfered between client and server if they are to run in a browser and effectively streamed over the wire. Either that or employ the sort of compression used to create installers which will gobble cpu cycles at either end. For small applications on high bandwidth networks it makes sense to run over the wire, because whilst it's still inefficient to download the same program data over and over again, every time you use the software, the absolute time-cost each time is low. For applications which are large w.r.t. available bandwidth, the opposite will always be true.

I hope that the tide of "everything on line" is stemmed at some point, because whilst it's convenient to be able to access your data on whatever computer you like, wherever you are, it also means you relinquish practically all control over your electronic life. To give a trivial example, if one of the many on-line software providers like googledocs or onLive experience server downtime, all of a sudden my online laptop is about as useful as a lump of coal. Obviously, the same is true if i lose network connectivity. And that's not a black/white issue - it's a sliding scale of usefulness against bandwidth.

betelgeus

July 11, 2011, 8:29 pm

seems like samsung would have been better off putting the a5 chip in.
also better i think to have the chrome os in a dual boot system.

Bill Brock

December 9, 2013, 12:17 am

won't turn on what to do ?

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