Samsung Series 5 Chromebook Wi-Fi Review

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Samsung Series 5 Chromebook

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10 Comments to Samsung Series 5 Chromebook Wi-Fi Review

  1. Chromebooks are targeted to specific types of users that want an easy, portable Internet browsing device.  They are not meant to replace the traditional PC or laptop.

    In addition, there are third party apps out there that can bridge the gap for Chromebook users that require occasional access to those tools found only in a Windows environment.  For example, if a Chromebook user needs quick, easy, temporary access to a Windows desktop or Windows app, they can use Ericom AccessNow, a pure HTML5 RDP client that enables Chromebook users to connect to any RDP host, including Terminal Server (RDS Session Host), physical desktops or VDI virtual desktops – and run their applications and desktops in a browser.

    Ericom‘s AccessNow does not require Java, Flash, Silverlight, ActiveX, or any other underlying technology to be installed on end-user devices – an HTML5 browser is all that is required.

    For more info, and to download a demo, visit:
    http://www.ericom.com/html5_RDP_Chromebook.asp?URL_ID=708

  2. Mashew Cashew

    If you tap both Shift keys down at the same time, it enables Caps lock. Easier to do that then remap a key.

    I’m on the DEV channel so it may not be on older stable releases……

  3. This is one of the most superficial Chromebook reviews I have read in some time. 2gb of RAM (which is the maximum supported by an Atom processor) is “not much” only if you are running a pig of an OS like Windows (and is twice as much as comes with a traditional netbook). I have an Acer netbook with 2gb of RAM, and running Linux, it has never, ever come even close to using its swap space. As Gary Lai observes, the function of the CAPS LOCK key is mappable. An Atom processor is not the fastest, but it does provide excellent battery life, and is adequate for its intended purpose. Google Docs performance is more constrained by network latency than it is by the Atom processor. Compared to traditional 10.1″ netbooks (which are burdened with the overhead of Windows XP or Win7), the Samsung Chromebook has a more usable screen, keyboard, and trackpad, runs longer and faster, but is still light and small enough to be easily portable — in short, it addresses almost all of the faults of a netbook. It’s not a Macbook Air, but at less than half the cost, it’s not a bad deal.

    I have a desktop iMac, an Acer netbook that has been modded with a 32gb SSD and2gb of RAM, and a Cr-48 (the original Chromebook test mule, which has a less powerful processor than the Samsung). The Cr-48 gets about 95% of my computer time because, overall, it is the most useful of the three. The iMac isn’t portable, and the Acer is too small, but as a portable computer, the Cr-48 is “just right,” and the 3G connectivity saves my bacon when I’m in a remote area without Wi-Fi access. 

    • 2GB is not the most supported by Atom. HP released the Mini 311 two years ago with Atom and 4GB of DDR3 RAM. Indeed, I didn’t know that Caps Lock could be assigned, which is great, but it still doesn’t make the removal of the actual key right. 

      Most of what you’ve pointed out in terms of hardware and software is just wrong S_Deemer. I’ve tested a number of Atom-based and Intel-based laptops, ultraportables, and netbooks, and in every case Atom may have saved battery life but always gave up a lot of processing power for it. There simply isn’t enough bandwidth available, and in my professional opinion Atom will likely die out thanks to the high-speed of growth in the smartphone market with processors working from the ground-up to deliver more power with reasonable device lifespan.

      However, it was pretty clear the second you mentioned that you have an iMac and netbook, and that you use the CR-48 for most of your computing, that you don’t like Windows. Fair enough. However, Win7 Starter is more than adequate on a netbook and runs just fine. On the HP Mini 311, mentioned earlier, I ran Home Premium with no problem…but when compared to an Intel-based Gateway ultraportable, running an older but seasoned and throttled Intel Core 2 Duo CPU, the Gateway managed 6.5 hours of battery life and could stream 1080p video, while the HP could muster 7 hours and barely managed to play 720p streaming. And that’s not even dedicated video, that’s an optimized YouTube stream.

      Until recently I’ve used that ultraportable for 2 years. The Chromebook works, as I wrote, for specific users, but not power users, and certainly not business people. More importantly, the online-only features are great, but we as a technological society aren’t ready for it. The so-called overhead of a traditional Windows OS isn’t constraining today’s netbooks; bandwidth is. Google Docs does work, sure, but even on a 10-year old laptop running Windows 98 you’d get better performance out of any word processor. 

      • According to Intel, the maximum addressable RAM for the Atom N450 (Cr-48) and N570 (Samsung Chromebook) is 2gb. Source: http://ark.intel.com/products/55637

        Google didn’t remove the CAPS LOCK key; they merely re-labeled it. However, they did remove the Del key, which is a minor annoyance, as is the absence of dedicated PgUp and PgDn keys.I have run both Windows XP and Win7 on Atom-powered netbooks, and with the standard 1gb of RAM, I would not classify either as “more than adequate” on a netbook — intolerably slow would be a more accurate description. I spent an entire day setting up a brand new HP laptop with a dual core processor and 4 gb of RAM for a friend last summer, and after she took possession, she said she still preferred her netbook running Linux Mint because it was so much faster (her words) than Windows 7. I don’t know if Chromebooks will be successful or not — Google still has a lot of development work to do, and a lot of holes to fill.  But, for the moment, nobody else has an ultraportable with a 12″ screen, solid state drive, and 8-hour battery life and 3G connectivity in the price range. 

        • Sure, the max RAM for that model is 2GB, but Google didn’t have to build a system based around it.

          As for RAM on a Windows machine, yes, running Win7 or WinXP with just 1GB is not only adequate, it works. Things are just slow. I know because I have an old Lenovo T43 doing just that, and for basic web browsing it works just fine. And that’s a 4-year old machine. I’ve seen other laptops do just as well. If a netbook requires more RAM – a brand new netbook no less – then there are bigger concerns to worry about.

          Finally, sure, Linux may be faster. It probably is faster. But like everything, you pay in the long run for what you have. Using Linux means you can’t rely on all Windows-based applications. If something goes wrong with the laptop chances are she won’t be able to fix it herself. There are going to be problems down the road, and if you’re not there to fix them, she’s going to be in a mess.

          There are definitely other companies with ultraportables that are far better than the Chromebook. They may not all be at the same price, or have 8-hours of battery life, or even 3G connectivity, but they all do come with a standard OS that 99% of people can use the applications they want to with it. That’s why I said the Chrome Store is the most important thing that Google needs to work on, and that’s just a matter of time. Just like with Android and iOS, Chrome will become more popular, and Chrome OS more capable, with more extensions and applications built into it. And like everything else, it’ll probably take 2-3 years for that to actually make adopting a Chromebook worthwhile.

          • But like everything, you pay in the long run for what you have. Using Linux means you can’t rely on all Windows-based applications. If something goes wrong with the laptop chances are she won’t be able to fix it herself. There are going to be problems down the road, and if you’re not there to fix them, she’s going to be in a mess.

            Actually, that has been the surprise; I installed Linux Mint on her netbook a year and a half ago (after Windows XP blew up), and I have never had a request for help (this is a very non-technical user). I checked out her netbook while I was setting up the HP, and to my surprise, it was perfectly current, with no need for me to do anything. Every OS has applications that are unique to it, and although I used Windows from the beginning (and MS-DOS before that), there has never been any Windows program that I felt I could not live without. 

            You are quite right that in the long run you pay for what you have, and with Windows or OS X, you pay, pay, pay. With Linux or Chrome OS, you pay once, and that is it. I’ve been surprised by the number of people I know, including one developer, who accept that Windows inevitably slows down over time, and the only answer is to re-install the OS from scratch or buy a new computer. The biggest advantage of Windows is that it is so ubiquitous that the non-technical user who has a problem can almost always find someone who knows more. All operating systems have problems — including Chrome OS.

  4. You can change the search key to a Caps Lock key. It’s a simple matter of going to the system settings menu and changing an option.

    You didn’t list the fast boot up time as a pro. It’s not 15-20 seconds to boot, it’s more like 8 seconds. That’s a huge plus over anything else except a $1000 Ultrabook or MacBook Air. Resume from sleep is instantaneous.

    Google’s approach with the Chromebook is that native apps really aren’t needed. There is a web application for nearly everything that most people do. You can tell from my writing that I have a Chromebook, a Samsung Series 5, like in the review. I haven’t experienced the issues with its speed you’ve discussed. I am using it right now to type this. Ever since I got it, my more expensive Windows laptop has been gathering dust.

    • Thanks Gary, I was unaware of the search key switch. I’ll update the review accordingly.

      I can’t agree with you on all your points, only because application use depends on the user. On a given day I may need only basic web browsing, or I may need to do heavy-handed photography and video editing. Google Docs doesn’t support all of the word processing features I need, and even on a blazing fast connection it feels slow to me. As much as I love the cloud, and use it for everything from writing on this site and storing all of my important data to playing games through OnLive, native applications always beat streaming/cloud apps. OnLive is the best alternative, but frankly Google Docs is slower than the gaming company’s server-side software. 

      I’d also venture to guess that your Windows laptop, like millions of people, is older and has seen it’s fair share of use. I could agree that instant boot is a good feature, but nearly every Windows and Mac-based laptop has that with Standby. Win7 machines aren’t really optimized for it yet, but most of the machines I’ve tested in the past 1-2 years only lose 1-2% battery after several hours of standby by just shutting the lid. Sure, the quick boot is great (and it is mentioned in the review), but because it’s so rare to need to reboot, what’s the point? I only just now rebooted my desktop for the 1st time in probably a month, for a major Windows update and some new hardware I needed to turn the computer off to install.

      I’m glad you are enjoying your Chromebook, because it is a good machine. My opinion is that many people who are used to more traditional laptops, or even kids these days who are used to doing everything on their phones, won’t like the Chromebook’s basic restrictions of web-only. Frankly, I have trouble with my Macbook Air still because it isn’t a Windows machine, and there are so many applications I can’t use on it because of that. The Chromebook is exponentially worse because it only uses webapps, which one day will be the way to go, but today is still a niche.

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