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.
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.