Luddite Article - Samsung Series 3 Chromebook

By Sam Richardson

 When Google decided it would create its own operating system, the angle it took was surprising to many. Instead of building a fully featured, cutting edge system to rival Mac OSX or Windows; Google chose a simple release capable of running just a web browser. Since the launch of the original models in 2011, Google has upgraded the system a little but the essence is still very much web focussed.

 The model I’m looking at- the Samsung Chromebook which is priced at just £229, is a nice looking notebook with silver plastic casing. The device is very light and the surprisingly large keyboard and touchpad make it easy to use. 

 The first impression when using a Chromebook is very good. Just 10 seconds after pressing the ‘On’ button you will be presented with a log-in page. A few seconds later, after entering or creating a Google account, you will be browsing the Internet.

 It is simple to decide if the Chromebook is right for you. First of all you consider how cheap this Samsung model is. At just £229 list price it beats off all competition for price. It is in the middle of the price range of the smaller tablets on sale such as the iPad Mini, Google Nexus 7 and the Amazon Kindle Fire HD.

 The other thing to consider is whether you can live with a notebook that can only be used through an Internet browser. This therefore means that with a few exceptions, everything must be done whilst connected to Wi-Fi.
 It is worth taking the time to consider the possibilities of what can actually be done through an Internet browser- Microsoft allow you to edit and create documents and spreadsheets through SkyDrive. Google Docs allows the same (with offline capabilities). You can also install apps from the Chrome Web Store, but these are limited and offline capabilities are primarily incorporated into games.

 Just to make it clear: programs such as Microsoft Office, Adobe Photoshop and any others cannot be installed on the Chromebook.

 The screen resolution and size- 1366x768 pixels, 11.6 inches are perfectly good, though the quality is relatively poor. Standard definition streaming looks fine but High Definition is essentially pointless or doesn’t work.
 Printing from the Chromebook is also a bit odd- you can either connect over the web to a Google Cloud Print enabled printer, or you have to go via the Cloud Print system on a middle man computer that has a printer connected to it.

 There is only 2gb of RAM in the new Chromebook, but in general usage: Web browsing and writing documents, this doesn’t feel underpowered. With just 16gb of internal memory, each user has access to 100gb of Google Drive to store files.

 There is a HDMI port for connecting to an external monitor or TV. There are also two USB ports, an SD card slot and a headphone/ mic port as you’d expect. There is also a basic webcam .

 The keyboard and oversized touchpad are fairly good. One really strange thing that I’m still deciding upon is the lack of a ‘Caps Lock’ key on the keyboard. In its place is a search button that when pressed, pops up a list of your installed apps and lets you perform a search without opening up a new tab in your browser. It is useful but surely could have been put elsewhere.

 At the end of the day, this device is good enough for a secondary computer. It is a slim, light, cheap and durable little laptop, and if you live your life online and think that you could use Google Docs instead of conventional Microsoft Office then it is definitely worth considering.

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