The Samsung Series 3 Chromebook, launched in late 2012 is a lightweight netbook style laptop that runs Google’s ChromeOS as a lightweight always online system. At its launch it was advertised as a cheap but stylish laptop that needed little maintenance and would become more useable over time, not less.
Processor: Dual Core ARM Samsung 1.7 GHz
Operating System: Chrome OS (Ubuntu Linux can be added using the Crouton system)
Network: Wifi Memory: 2GB DDR2 SDRAM
Display: 1355 x 768, 11.6 inches and HDMI out
Connectivity: USB 1×3.0 1x 2.0
Wi-Fi: 802.11 a/b/g/n (2.4 & 5 GHz) capable
Graphics: Integrated ARM Chip
Storage: 16GB SSD, SD/SDHC/SDXC Card slot and 2 Years 100gb Google Drive
Bluetooth: Yes, but there are a very limited number of devices (mainly mice and keyboards) that it can be used with
Battery: 7 hours
Dimensions: 36.6 x 35.8 x 6.2 cm Weight: 1.1kg
- Internet connection – ChromeOS needs a constant internet connection to use almost every one of its features. If you do not have a constant net connection, this computer will not work for you. It is an always on-line system.
The Chromebook is an elegantly designed and good looking system, looking a lot like Apple’s Macbook Air. The case is of a matt plastic, but of a good enough quality that that is not immediately clear. The system’s cable ports are on the back (HDMI, power, USB 2.0 and USB) and left hand side (earphone/mic and SD Card slot). The screen hinge is surprisingly large and quite stiff but firm when put in a position. The trackpad is large both in proportion to the system and in absolute terms. The keyboard is of the chicklet style and is near full size and feels very nice to type on.
Usually when PC computers are reviewed you try very carefully to review the hardware rather than the operating system. With the exception of some bundled programs Windows 8 is Windows 8 and Windows 7 is Windows 7. This is however not the case with the Chromebook. The system does not run Windows (or OSX) but instead runs Google’s ChromeOS. ChromeOS is a lightweight OS that is as if you are running the Chrome browser on your system and nothing else. This means you can do anything that you can do through your browser, such as web surfing, playing music in a browser app, accessing Dropbox, editing documents in Gdocs or playing flash games, however it means none of the usual Windows programs will run. That means no Skype, no Steam and no conventional windows programs.
The Chromebook is a modern take on a old idea. Instead of having a powerful and expensive computer in front of you, you have a cheaper less powerful one and offload the work to another external server. If you live in the cloud already then this may suit you perfectly, but make no mistake this is not a conventional type of PC and most gamers need not apply.
From the hardware point of view there is surprisingly little to fault this Chromebook. It is a compact but good looking netbook with rather better quality components and build standards than you would expect from its price.
The screen on the Chromebook is small and of a relatively lower resolution, but as it is of a small size this is less of an issue. It is not retina, so if you have good eyesight you can just about make out the individual pixels. The screen has a matt finish which means that you get little reflection if you use it somewhere with bright light.
The Chromebook also has an HDMI out port on its back that can be used to either mirror the display on the laptop screen or extend it to allow two sets of windows. There has been a little controversy in the past over this feature as it has been buggy with some external screen resolutions, but I have experienced no issues and it appears that Google’s updates have resolved the issue. There are dedicated keys above the keyboard to raise and lower the brightness of the screen, to switch between mirroring and extending the desktop and to maximise the current window.
The Chromebook has a single 3.5mm audio jack on the left hand side of the keyboard which is an integrated earphone and microphone jack. The laptop has dual external speakers which point down from its base. The external speakers 1.5W go reasonably loud for their size and do not break up even at maximum volume. There are dedicated hardware keys for volume up and down and a mute key. The system does have bluetooth but it is very limited to particular peripherals and I have been unable to get any of my bluetooth headsets or earphones working with it.
The Chromebook is a very small light laptop and as such is inherently quite accessible. They keyboard is of the chicklet style and needs a quite light touch to push the keys. The trackpad is unusually large and very responsive and supports gestures. Above the keyboard where on a PC you would usually have functions keys (F1, F2 etc) the Chromebook has several keys dedicated for web use. These include a back and forward key,reload and several system function keys. It is possible to use an external keyboard and mouse as the system has two USB ports and it is an obvious candidate for the use of bluetooth mice.
Chromebooks, and specifically the Samsung Series 3 wifi reviewed here all run the operating system ChromeOS. This is designed to be as simple to use as possible and to offload the system maintenance from the user. In effect if you are able to use a standard Chrome browser on a Windows PC or Mac then you will have no problems with the Chromebook. When you switch the machine on you sign in with your Google account name and password and then get your normal Chrome bookmarks and add-ons. If you are a Chrome user already and can accept that the system will only work when you have good internet access the Chromebook is very simple to use.
Manufacturer: Samsung Price: £222.18 Retailer: [amazon_enhanced asin=”B009RF0AQ8″ /]
Included In The Box
- Samsung Series 3 Chromebook Wifi
- Power Cable
The Samsung Series 3 Wifi Chromebook is a well designed and solidly built computer with a philosophy of use that will not fit everyone’s needs but will be wonderful for those who it’s designed for. For those who live in connected environments and spend most of their time using webapps it is a perfect on the road or second system, but if you fall outside of that you will find the experience frustrating. For the price it is very well made and it is small and light enough with a good battery life to be a good road machine. Personally I find it an excellent second system and an excellent alternative to a tablet.
The Samsung Series 3 Wifi Chromebook was released in September 2012.