Home / Computing / Laptop / Samsung Series 3 Chromebook / Usability, Screen and Speakers

Samsung Series 3 Chromebook 303C – Usability, Screen and Speakers

Ardjuna Seghers

By Ardjuna Seghers



  • Recommended by TR
Samsung Series 3 Chromebook


Our Score:


Samsung Series 3 Chromebook 303C – Keyboard and Typing

Even though this Chromebook packs an ARM processor and an OS arguably more suited to a tablet, touch is not part of the picture. As such, the keyboard and touchpad are the only ways to interact, so it’s especially important that they’re good.

Thankfully, the typing experience offered by the Samsung Series 3 XE303C12 is very nice indeed. Though not backlit, the keyboard offers large, matt keys that fall naturally under the finger thanks to good spacing. Keys also offer decent travel and a nice positive click.

It’s no Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon, but it’s certainly the best laptop typing experience we’ve come across for under £300, and we’d happily use the Samsung Series 3 Chromebook 303C for all-day word processing.

The only thing to be aware of is that layout has been slightly modified for ChromeOS, including dedicated function buttons instead of the usual F1-F12 keys. In a nice touch, the power button has been integrated into the keyboard a la the MacBooks.

Samsung Series 3 Chromebook 303C – Touchpad

Its multi-touch touchpad offers a similarly impressive experience. The ‘buttonless’ glass pad gives your fingers a lovely surface and its ‘button’ sports a well-defined click. Google has made a two-finger tap the default for right-clicks, which generally works well. Two-finger scrolling is also flawless, and this touchpad gives those on laptops costing five times as much a run for their money.

Samsung Series 3 Chromebook 303C – Screen

Unfortunately, the 11.6-inch screen on the Samsung Chromebook Series 3 doesn’t support touch; one of the ways in which the cost is kept down on this ultraportable laptop. Moreover, it uses a TN panel (meaning poor viewing angles and colours compared to IPS) with a bog-standard 1,366 x 768 resolution. Fortunately, when it comes to image quality it’s not all bad news.

First let’s get the bad bits over with. Colours are definitely on the dull side, and blacks come across a tad grey. This average contrast and a 200nits maximum brightness leaves images lacking a little punch, though we’re grateful that Samsung/Google has left the screen finish matt rather than adding a glossy layer with the inevitable annoying reflections that would have brought.

Though horizontal viewing angles are decent, vertical ones are as poor as expected, meaning the incline of the screen has to be very exact if you don’t want a serious case of contrast shift.

However, while blacks may not be the deepest, dark detailing is excellent with every subtle gradation visible. This is aided by very even backlighting with no sign of bleed, and only minimal banding across gradients. At this resolution, ChromeOS also manages to generally look nice and sharp. Overall, the XE303C12’s screen is about what you would expect for this price point, and certainly adequate for a budget device aimed primarily at productivity and casual use.

Samsung Series 3 Chromebook 303C – Speakers

Audio on this Chromebook is a mixed bag. The 1.5W speakers go surprisingly loud, but they’re muddy on the details and suffer significant distortion once the bass kicks in. Like many speakers on affordable ultraportables, they’re just about good enough for YouTube but for a movie we’d recommend some proper headphones or earbuds.


February 7, 2013, 3:28 am

i got my mom the original acer chromebook since all she does is facebook/ebay/email/browse. it's been a perfect fit and no support calls to me. no os upgrade cost, automatic upgrade, no virus worries. no "more" needed.

i don't get this touch issue on a laptop. i don't want to reach up there and touch. i want the trackpad to do multiple gestures. i have a macbook air and the touchpad is amazing with two three and four finger gestures. i'd like to see more of this on other machines.


February 7, 2013, 5:46 pm

The reviewer forgot to mention security - malware is a remoter risk than on any Windows laptop.


February 16, 2013, 8:49 am

Touch on a laptop or desktop doesn't make sense ergonomically. You have to brace the laptop/monitor screen every time you use touch to stop it toppling over, and your arms get tired after prolonged use. Touch is for screens which can be laid flat with the face up, where you don't have to reach over something to touch the screen. Touch is also imprecise, and virtual keyboards lack tactile feedback, so it is only good for casual browsing and content consumption.

For laptop form factors an oversized touchpad as found on Chromebooks are the way to go. For desktops, the good old mouse is the optimum solution.


February 1, 2014, 10:02 pm

The only thing I find fault with is the mediocre qualtity of viewing. I had a netbook for 6
years with Windows 7 Starter and the viewing quality was FAR superior to this Chromebook. It amazes me why samasung/chrome released No 3 with this fault.
It has so many good points, this let's it down.

comments powered by Disqus