Samsung Series 5 Chromebook Nice but Not Necessary

By Clint Boulton  |  Posted 2011-06-14 Print this article Print

There are more than 4,500 apps to choose from in Google's Chrome Webstore, most of which are free. I tested the Webcam with Google Talk video chats and found it to work well. I also ran Gmail Picasa, Google Docs, Google Reader and others, which all worked well enough, thanks to the Intel 1.66 GHz Atom Processor N570. 

Then I installed the new Angry Birds Chrome version with a single click in a few seconds. Angry Birds was really where I got a feel for this Chromebook's Intel NM10 graphics chipset.

I would be lying if I said the Web version of Angry Birds operated without a hitch. This is the Web. Hiccups in access are normal, whereas you wouldn't see fits and starts on the native mobile apps for Android and iPhone. Overall, my experience gaming on the Chromebook was enjoyable.

To use this 3G model outside my house I went to the Chrome tools section, clicked on settings, the Internet. Here I saw my WiFi connection and an option to connect to Verzion's network. To do this, you must type your zipcode or town and choose options such as the free 100MB of data Verizon offers.

Once I entered my info, I was free to use the Chromebook courtesy of the carrier's mobile broadband, as if the notebook were a smartphone or tablet. Neat

This device only has 16GB SSD storage, so you can't store a lot of content with it. What were you expecting with a cloud-based computer? One of the biggest differences I noted between the Cr-48 and the Chromebook is that the pilot machine did not have a file manager. This Chromebook, running the fresher version of Chrome OS, does.

Users will find it by clicking on the Chrome wrench icon in the top right, then clicking the tools option. Users can plug in an SD card in the Chromebook's front 4 in one card reader (supporting SD, SDHC, SDXC and MMC) or a USB key (there are two USB ports) and the file manager will read the content and let users access media such as photos, videos and music. Tunes played well on this machine with stereo speakers, a far cry from the Cr-48's inferior sound system.

My test unit Chromebook actually came with an SD card preloaded with photos, videos and documents to test. That is how I became comfortable with the file manager before plugging my own USB keys into the machine to test.

The file manager worked quickly and painlessly, playing some video files, but wouldn't recognize my Windows-based Flip videos. That's a problem for a someone with a bunch of Flip videos they need to move from that dying camera ecosystem. It means I will have to convert them into a different format, which sort of defeats the purpose of a Web-based Chromebook.

The Chromebook also comes with a VGA adapter to let users port media to larger screens such as TVs. One of the sweetest perks about the Chromebook is the great battery life. I regularly got 8 hours of battery life from this machine's 8280 mAh battery, with a decent amount of use.

There is a lot of talk about whether the Chromebook is suited for a consumer, a business professional, or both. As a consumer, the Chromebook is a like a multi-function tablet for me.

It allows me to access pretty much all of my Web content in speedy fashion. I can type forever on it, writing short stories and letter on Google Docs and storing them for later, something that doesn't play so well on a tablet. I can also play games and watch video content. In that capacity, it's a great device, even if it's quite a bit short on the app choice front compared to iOS or Android.

As a worker, I couldn't use it because we at eWEEK are all on Microsoft Exchange for email and have other proprietary programs that aren't accessible via Chrome let alone Chrome OS, for I couldn't use this for work.

I suspect that Google may also have to relent and allow hardware makers to incorporate more storage on Chromebooks going forward. People enjoy the newness of the cloud, but there is also a lot of comfort and convenience in accessing local content. Sorry, Google.

And that's why I think computer makers could have trouble moving Chromebooks into anything other than a niche use case. Meanwhile, as a consumer user I now have another Web-enabled form factor to juggle along with my smartphone and tablet. 



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