Samsung goes upscale with Google’s entry-level computers.
In recent years we’ve seen the Chromebook grow from sideline oddity to the second best selling computer in America. In an age where phones and tablets are packed with more computing power than the Apollo missions, the conventional desktop and laptop computer markets are lagging. The only computers to clock rising sales lately?
Granted, a whole lot of those units are issued to students by schools. Detractors also complain that Chromebooks lack basic features and rely too heavily on Google’s cloud for key functions. After all, the operating system is built almost entirely around the Chrome web browser. But for many users the web browser is by far their most commonly used app. For these users the simplicity, long battery life, instantaneous startup and a virus-free operation make Chromebooks very appealing.
Next, add the fact that they’re cheap, and it’s no wonder more and more people (students included) are discovering the ever-expanding capabilities of devices running Google’s Chrome OS. The increasing sophistication of Google’s office software suite and recent features like improved wireless printing and the ability to run Android apps, are drawing new buyers away from the usual selection of Windows or Mac products.
What It Is
Chrome OS is basically a lightweight version of Linux designed with the Chrome web browser as its core. The early Chromebook releases were dismissed as too restricted and limited by their reliance on Google’s cloud software. Since 2009 the Chrome universe of hardware has grown to include laptops, convertible netbooks, TVs, Chromeboxes and a candy-bar size dongle called a Chromebit. Dell, Acer, Lenovo, Asus and HP offer chromebooks, and a new release from Samsung hopes to boost them beyond entry-level status.
What It Isn’t
Need to run Adobe Photoshop or Final Cut Pro? Then a Chromebook probably isn’t for you. There are some impressive apps available (photo editor Pixlr or Adobe Premiere Clip come to mind) to mimic such programs. But for the foreseeable future you’re going to need Windows or Mac to run those power-hungry programs.
The new Samsung Chromebook Plus, and upcoming Chromebook Pro, offer unique features that should appeal to business and power users. Sporting a 12.3″touchscreen that folds 360°, it’s designed as a hybrid laptop/tablet to take full advantage of Android apps. The convertible design allows it to switch from tablet or e-reader to corporate laptop instantly. They’re very thin and like most Chromebooks weigh next to nothing– in this case nothing is 2.38 pounds.
But the big news with these “new generation” Chromebooks is the pen. Borrowed from the popular Samsung Galaxy Note tablets, the stylus clicks in/out of the right-hand side of the unit. Popping it out opens a menu with options to take a note or use the stylus as a magnifier or laser pointer. The best part is the pen is pressure-sensitive so handwriting looks better, and it’s usable with drawing and sketching apps.
Another interesting feature is the touchscreen display. It has brilliant, accurate color and looks great with a resolution of 2400 x 1600. The unique bit is the aspect ratio is 3:2, instead of the predominant 16:9 most laptop users are accustomed to. This makes it work much better as a tablet but might look odd parked next to your Macbook or Surface Pro.
Specs include 4 GB of RAM and 32 GB of onboard storage. Ports include two of the popular USB Type C connection for charging and data transfer. An external Micro SD card slot provide removable storage. Connectivity also includes integrated Wi-Fi and Bluetooth.