A rambly review of the Samsung Chromebook

by DaniGirl on August 30, 2013 · 0 comments

in Reviews, promotions and giveaways

The voice cried out in resigned dismay. “Daa-ad! The computer crashed again!”

Sigh. The laptop the boys use as “their” computer is more than four years old, and has been played with by first me and then them on a near-daily basis. It has lived a good life, and we knew we’d have to replace it soon. Beloved looked at me and shrugged. “Maybe we can hold off until Christmas, and get a replacement as a family Christmas gift?”

And then, in the funny way the universe works, the very next day an e-mail arrived offering me the opportunity to review (for keepsies!) a new Samsung Chromebook from Staples.ca. I didn’t know what a Chromebook was – I had to look it up to figure out it was a computer. It’s actually, I am learning, more of a laptop-tablet hybrid. And I said, “Sure!” (Actually, I danced a little happy dance around the kitchen. I love my life.)

So I admit that just by the serendipitous nature of its arrival, I was predisposed to like the Chromebook. But you know what? This is a great little laptop!

As I said, it has some features in common with a laptop. It folds up like one, and has an attached keyboard. It looks like a laptop. A very thin, light laptop! But it behaves more like a tablet. It doesn’t have a huge hard-drive (16GB, comparable to a base-level iPad), as most people are now keeping most of their data “in the cloud” online anyway. Here’s the official specs from the Staples.ca website:

1.17 GHz Samsung Exynos 5250 (1MB L2 Cache
2GB DDR3 system memory
16GB e.MMC iNAND™ Embedded Flash Drive
Google Chrome
11.6″ HD LED screen size
ARM Mali T604
Stereo Speakers (1.5 W x 2 )
Dimensions: 0.69″ H. x 11.40″ W. x 8.21″ D.
Product Weight: 2.43 lb.
1-year manufacturer’s limited warranty (details with product)

Sorry, did your eyes glaze over there? Mine did. I’m not great with technical specs. I’d like to give you a thorough technical review of the Chromebook, but that’s outside of my comfort level. Here’s what I noticed: it’s the perfect size to slip in your purse or backpack, as it’s just under 12″ long folded up and weighs just over a kilo. It’s literally the size of a notebook. It boots up super-quick, faster even than waking up my old Windows PC from sleep mode. It has great battery life, over six hours on a full charge. The keys on the keyboard are a delight for this dedicated touch-typer. It picks up our home wifi signal from the treehouse. *wink*

photo of a boy using a laptop in a treehouse

I have to admit that until I actually got my hands on it, I didn’t make the connection between the name of the device (Chromebook) and Google’s Chrome browser. (You’d never guess my life is all about technology, would you?) So this is a laptop that uses Chrome OS (operating system). This is not a huge deal, except to say that it took me half a year to finally adapt to Mac OS after being a Windows user, and so my only big problem so far with the Chromebook has been taking the time to figure out where everything is. Coming from an Apple-infused life, I find the apps are less app-like and more like website delivery systems. Actually, that’s exactly what Beloved called the Chromebook: the perfect website delivery system for the occasional surfer.

The kids took to it like ducks to water. Or should I say, in this case like penguins to a club. :/

photo of a boy smiling at a laptop

I like that you can simply set up user-accounts based on your existing Google accounts. We already have separate Gmail accounts for me, for the big boys, and for the family (set up initially for iTunes accounts) and the Chromebook makes it easy to sign switch between user accounts, so we can all have our own settings, e-mail accounts and favourites. If you’re already a user of Google +, YouTube, Gmail, Google Docs or any of Google’s other products, you’ll find it easy to bring everything together here.

My only complaints are that I found the trackpad occasionally sticky when I try to scroll, and since it scrolls in the opposite direction from my MacBook (you slide down to push text up) I’m always moving the screen the wrong way. I did, however, like that you can just tap the trackpad to click instead of having to actually press down on it. Also, for me, it’s not powerful enough for my personal day-to-day computer use. I need Photoshop and Lightroom, for example, which would not run on the Chromebook, and the kids can’t play Minecraft on it (but after after a summer of Minecraft every waking hour, I’m seeing that as more pro than con). It’s a bit of a pain to port all Word documents into Google Docs before you can edit them, but that’s also a minor thing.

Overall, I think this is a perfect “extra” computer. It’s light and thin but sturdy and plenty powerful enough for web-surfing, movie-watching and social networking, as well as simple document management through Google Docs. And it comes with 100GB of free storage on Google Drive! I think it would be awesome to stick in your purse when you want to take advantage of the free wifi and relative peace to do some blogging at your local coffee shop. I will be bringing this to school council meetings to take notes, on family vacations when I feel like staying connected but not lugging around the big laptop, and out on the porch when I feel like doing a little bit of mindless Facebooking. It’s a perfect starter computer for a kid who needs a straightforward net-book style computer of his own for school, at a price where you won’t be too worried if he accidentally rolls his backpack containing the laptop down the stairs. You know, the sort of thing that would never happen at our house. 😉

Thanks to Staples.ca for offering this fun little device up for my review!

Disclosure: Staples provided me with this Samsung Chromebook to review. All thoughts and opinions expressed are my own. To see their full line of laptops and tablets, visit Staples.ca.

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