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Why Samsung Chromebook Pro worth its money

Laptops

The Good Extremely long list of price features including QHD touchscreen, hybrid loop and stylus. Adding support for the Google Play App Store means this Chromebook can access a wide variety of software.

The Bad The keyboard and touchpad remind you that this is a budget laptop and the accelerometer is too sensitive. Running too many applications and browser windows immediately consumes the memory quickly, which slows down.

The Bottom Line Samsung Chromebook Pro will make believers out of many Chromebook skeptics by offering great value, features and performance for budget-priced laptops.

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8.5 Overall

  • Design
    8
  • Features
    9
  • Performance
    7
  • Battery
    8

If you’re looking for a reliable all-round laptop for around $ 500, the new Samsung Chromebook Pro should be at the top of or near the candidate list. Of course, there are many Windows laptops and tablets in this price range (or lower), but none that I think would offer this combination of decent design, mostly metal construction, no delays, long battery life, better than -HD a touch screen, a built-in stylus and a hybrid hinge that turns the system into a tablet.

Compare

Samsung Chromebook Pro

HP Chromebook x2

Lenovo Yoga Chromebook C630

Acer Chromebook 15 (2017)

HP Chromebook 15 (2019)

Design 8 8 8 8 7
Features 9 9 9 8 8
Performance 7 8 9 8 8
Battery 8 8 8 8 9
Overall 8.5 8.5 8.5 8.0 8.0
Price $595 Amazon $544 Walmart $672 Amazon $251 Walmart $420 Walmart

Despite its hybrid design, it’s still the first laptop and second tablet. For the opposite approach, the iPad Plus equipped keyboard will cost about the same.

Sarah Tew

I know what you’re thinking: “But wait, your Chromebook uses a weird Google browser-only operating system. They don’t run any of my required software, and they are useless when you turn off Wi-Fi.” And you would be right about some or all of this – if not for 2017.

Yes, Chrome OS – though it has evolved substantially over the last few years – is still essentially a Chrome Web browser with a laptop around it. But Samsung and Google are using this new model and its sister system, the Chromebook Plus, to showcase an important new feature of Chrome OS coming on all new Chromebooks in 2017, as well as several older models. These new systems are compatible with the Google Play Android App Store, which allows you to download, install and run millions of Android apps, as you would with any Android phone or tablet (with a few exceptions).

Sarah Tew

It’s a twist that changes the whole nature of a Chromebook for a huge range of people, giving the platform access to global software, from games to office tools to social media applications. In practice, it’s not as versatile as it looks on paper, but also incredibly satisfying in amazing ways.

The evolution of the Chromebook

  • Five stages of adopting a Chromebook
  • Acer Chromebook R13 Review
  • Lenovo ThinkPad 13 Chromebook Overview

In addition, the touch screen, hybrid and styling features and decent performance and battery life make the Chromebook Pro feel like a very reasonable purchase for $ 549, which is definitely the highest level for a Chromebook. There are no official prices in the UK or Australia, but this is around £ 440 or $ 720.

Sarah Tew

Pro will be out in the next few months, but a less expensive version, called the Chromebook Plus, will be released in mid-February. It costs $ 449 (about $ 360 or $ 590), and the main difference between the two systems is that the Pro has an Intel Core m3 processor, while the Plus has an non-Intel ARM processor. (This is not necessarily a bad thing, but we won’t have head-to-head testing until we get our hands on the Plus.)

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Both have 2400 x 1600 pixel touch screens, dual USB-C ports, 32GB internal storage and a microSD card slot. And both have a default keyboard – for which you have to pay extra for your iPad or Surface Pro tablets.

Samsung Chromebook Pro

Price as reviewed $549
Display size/resolution 12.3-inch 2,400×1,600 touchscreen
CPU Intel Core m3-6y30
Memory 4GB
Storage 32GB SSD
Networking 802.11n wireless, Bluetooth 4.0
Operating system Chrome OS

The return of a not very wide screen

The metal case won’t make anyone think it’s a MacBook, but it still feels more solid than the plastic laptops, which usually cost the same. The system, although very thin, has a quirky look as the 2400 x 1600 display has a 3: 2 aspect ratio and most laptops have a wider, shorter 16: 9 screen (just like HDTV).

Sarah Tew

It’s a bit like going back to the old notebooks of the previous screen, but it also gives you more screen real estate for some things, like books or presentations, and more like a drawing tablet when you use the stylus added. (It’s worth noting that Microsoft standardized the Surface line in the same aspect ratio, while Apple maintained an even larger rectangular 4: 3 aspect ratio for the iPad.) The downside is that HD video content gets more black bars at the top and bottom of the screen.

Sarah Tew

There is a passive stylus that fits into the slot on the right edge – both big pluses. Once home, the system features a quick pop-up menu that lets you capture a portion of the screen to take a screenshot or launch Google Keep draw or take notes.

Other style-friendly applications, such as ArtCanvas and Autodesk Sketchbook, offer more fine-tuning of drawing options, and this is very similar to drawing on Microsoft Surface (where we used the Windows Sketchbook version).

Sarah Tew

Entering text was acceptable but not a real selling point, with small keys and especially tiny backspace keys and keys that dropped my rhythm. The touchpad was just as normal and one of the most budget-friendly aspects of the system. Two-finger scrolling worked fine, but to click and drag as it would on a Windows laptop, you need to find a half-open check box to enable this feature. To find the checkbox (which took me a long time), launch the settings menu, search for “availability” and you’ll see it.

Finally, the accelerometer that flips the screen between portrait and landscape modes is poorly configured. It is too sensitive to the slightest movement, especially when the system is switched to tablet mode, resulting in some bright images when the screen quickly changes its orientation back and forth.

Samsung Chromebook Pro

Get (almost) every Android app on your Samsung Chromebook Pro

Immersion in the Play Store opens up a world of possibilities. It’s almost too much to take at once. Like most application ecosystems, curation is a problem, but some of the low-rise fruits are very attractive.

It’s now easy to get the full Instagram experience on your laptop, including the ability to take and upload photos. Other apps just don’t work properly on your phone. For example, Snapchat downloaded, installed and launched fine, but I was never able to complete the full login screen. Uber took me outside the sign-in screen, but I was unable to enter any location or destination information that made it useless. Big games on Android, including Pokemon Go and Fire Emblem Heroes, have given me an incompatible device with bugs.

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If you’re looking for a reliable all-round laptop for around $ 500, the new Samsung Chromebook Pro should be at the top of or near the candidate list. Of course, there are many Windows laptops and tablets in this price range (or lower), but none that I think would offer this combination of decent design, mostly metal construction, no delays, long battery life, better than -HD a touch screen, a built-in stylus and a hybrid hinge that turns the system into a tablet.

Compare

Samsung Chromebook Pro

HP Chromebook x2

Lenovo Yoga Chromebook C630

Acer Chromebook 15 (2017)

HP Chromebook 15 (2019)

Design 8 8 8 8 7
Features 9 9 9 8 8
Performance 7 8 9 8 8
Battery 8 8 8 8 9
Overall 8.5 8.5 8.5 8.0 8.0
Price $595 Amazon $544 Walmart $672 Amazon $251 Walmart $420 Walmart

Despite its hybrid design, it’s still the first laptop and second tablet. For the opposite approach, the iPad Plus equipped keyboard will cost about the same.

Sarah Tew

I know what you’re thinking: “But wait, your Chromebook uses a weird Google browser-only operating system. They don’t run any of my required software, and they are useless when you turn off Wi-Fi.” And you would be right about some or all of this – if not for 2017.

Yes, Chrome OS – though it has evolved substantially over the last few years – is still essentially a Chrome Web browser with a laptop around it. But Samsung and Google are using this new model and its sister system, the Chromebook Plus, to showcase an important new feature of Chrome OS coming on all new Chromebooks in 2017, as well as several older models. These new systems are compatible with the Google Play Android App Store, which allows you to download, install and run millions of Android apps, as you would with any Android phone or tablet (with a few exceptions).

Sarah Tew

It’s a twist that changes the whole nature of a Chromebook for a huge range of people, giving the platform access to global software, from games to office tools to social media applications. In practice, it’s not as versatile as it looks on paper, but also incredibly satisfying in amazing ways.

The evolution of the Chromebook

  • Five stages of adopting a Chromebook
  • Acer Chromebook R13 Review
  • Lenovo ThinkPad 13 Chromebook Overview

In addition, the touch screen, hybrid and styling features and decent performance and battery life make the Chromebook Pro feel like a very reasonable purchase for $ 549, which is definitely the highest level for a Chromebook. There are no official prices in the UK or Australia, but this is around £ 440 or $ 720.

Sarah Tew

Pro will be out in the next few months, but a less expensive version, called the Chromebook Plus, will be released in mid-February. It costs $ 449 (about $ 360 or $ 590), and the main difference between the two systems is that the Pro has an Intel Core m3 processor, while the Plus has an non-Intel ARM processor. (This is not necessarily a bad thing, but we won’t have head-to-head testing until we get our hands on the Plus.)

Both have 2400 x 1600 pixel touch screens, dual USB-C ports, 32GB internal storage and a microSD card slot. And both have a default keyboard – for which you have to pay extra for your iPad or Surface Pro tablets.

Samsung Chromebook Pro

Price as reviewed $549
Display size/resolution 12.3-inch 2,400×1,600 touchscreen
CPU Intel Core m3-6y30
Memory 4GB
Storage 32GB SSD
Networking 802.11n wireless, Bluetooth 4.0
Operating system Chrome OS

The return of a not very wide screen

The metal case won’t make anyone think it’s a MacBook, but it still feels more solid than the plastic laptops, which usually cost the same. The system, although very thin, has a quirky look as the 2400 x 1600 display has a 3: 2 aspect ratio and most laptops have a wider, shorter 16: 9 screen (just like HDTV).

Sarah Tew

It’s a bit like going back to the old notebooks of the previous screen, but it also gives you more screen real estate for some things, like books or presentations, and more like a drawing tablet when you use the stylus added. (It’s worth noting that Microsoft standardized the Surface line in the same aspect ratio, while Apple maintained an even larger rectangular 4: 3 aspect ratio for the iPad.) The downside is that HD video content gets more black bars at the top and bottom of the screen.

Sarah Tew

There is a passive stylus that fits into the slot on the right edge – both big pluses. Once home, the system features a quick pop-up menu that lets you capture a portion of the screen to take a screenshot or launch Google Keep draw or take notes.

Other style-friendly applications, such as ArtCanvas and Autodesk Sketchbook, offer more fine-tuning of drawing options, and this is very similar to drawing on Microsoft Surface (where we used the Windows Sketchbook version).

Sarah Tew

Entering text was acceptable but not a real selling point, with small keys and especially tiny backspace keys and keys that dropped my rhythm. The touchpad was just as normal and one of the most budget-friendly aspects of the system. Two-finger scrolling worked fine, but to click and drag as it would on a Windows laptop, you need to find a half-open check box to enable this feature. To find the checkbox (which took me a long time), launch the settings menu, search for “availability” and you’ll see it.

Finally, the accelerometer that flips the screen between portrait and landscape modes is poorly configured. It is too sensitive to the slightest movement, especially when the system is switched to tablet mode, resulting in some bright images when the screen quickly changes its orientation back and forth.

Samsung Chromebook Pro

Get (almost) every Android app on your Samsung Chromebook Pro

Immersion in the Play Store opens up a world of possibilities. It’s almost too much to take at once. Like most application ecosystems, curation is a problem, but some of the low-rise fruits are very attractive.

It’s now easy to get the full Instagram experience on your laptop, including the ability to take and upload photos. Other apps just don’t work properly on your phone. For example, Snapchat downloaded, installed and launched fine, but I was never able to complete the full login screen. Uber took me outside the sign-in screen, but I was unable to enter any location or destination information that made it useless. Big games on Android, including Pokemon Go and Fire Emblem Heroes, have given me an incompatible device with bugs.

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