Chromebook Unboxed

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Chromebook Unboxed

Behold the Series 5 Chromebook in a glossy arctic white. Consumers may buy it in titan silver, too. The Chrome logo atop the notebook is a raised emblem.

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Side View

The left side of the Chromebook includes, from left to right, DC port, the cooling fan vent, a port for the VGA adapter, and a USB 2.0 port, along with the headphone jack. The right side has a SIM (Subscriber Identity Module) slot and a second USB port. The front includes an SD port. A VGA via dongle adapter is included.

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The Series 5 Chromebook is 11.6 inches wide, 0.8 inches thick and 8.6 inches deep. At 3.3 pounds, it is light for a laptop.

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Series 5 vs. Cr-48

The Cr-48 was a nice test model, encased in a black matte shell. Here is the Cr-48 for comparison with the Series 5.

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Side-by-Side View

The Series 5 is lighter and thinner than the Cr-48.

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Aside from serious polishing by Samsung, the hardware and software of the Series 5 and the Cr-48 are quite similar, including the exact same keyboards for both machines.

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Chromebook Keyboard

Here is the Series 5 keyboard, sporting 74 keys. From left to right, the top row includes escape, back and forward arrows, a refresh button, full-screen toggle, screen shift key, brightness buttons, a mute key and volume arrows, as well as the power button.

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Cr-48 Keyboard

The trackpad on the Chromebook proved excellent, superior to the kludgy Cr-48 track-pad. But that's what experimental designs help companies learn.

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Samsung has improved on the Cr-48 display as well, offering a 12.1-inch LED-backlit LCD matte display.

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Aside from the sub-10 second boot-up process, the other efficiency factor for the Chromebook came in the set-up process, which took a couple minutes, compared with the 10 minutes or so it takes to provision a Windows machine. First, we assigned a language and network.

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WiFi Setup

Next, we provisioned the WiFi network we wanted to assign to the machine.

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Google Accounts Sign-In

Then we signed in with our Google accounts information.

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Picking an Account Photo

We then picked a picture to display for our account. We chose a stock photo instead, but you may also let the Webcam grab a shot of your smiling mug to use, as we did for the Cr-48 last winter.

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Get-Acquainted Tutorial

Google invites users to get used to their Chromebooks' touch-pads, with practice for clicking, right-clicking and scrolling.

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Application Synchronization

Here is the great thing about Chrome, which we learned from the browser a couple versions back: syncing. The minute I provisioned the Series 5 Chromebook with my Google account and got past the tutorial, the Chromebook imported all the bookmarks, applications and extensions I installed from my Cr-48. Magical stuff! Nothing is lost. Hence, the beauty of the cloud.

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Accessing the Webstore

There have been thousands of new applications added to the Webstore since I first used it in mid-December on the Cr-48.

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Playing Angry Birds

This includes Angry Birds! Rovio Mobile added its first Web-based version of its signature gaming application for Chrome last month. We've been playing it ever since, and it proved nice and easy to use on the Chromebook, which has an Intel NM10 graphics chipset, integrated graphics and shared graphics memory.

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YouTube certainly played great on the Chromebook, whose 1280 by 800 resolution display with a 16:10 aspect ratio and 300 nits of brightness comes in handy for multimedia and Flash content.

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Google Talk

Google Talk also lived up to expectations, allowing users to conduct text and video chats, courtesy of the Chromebooks 1MP Webcam.

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File Manager

Unlike our Cr-48, which is running Chrome OS 11, this Samsung model includes an updated version of Chrome OS—version 12, which includes a file system that supports documents and a media player for video and music. We accessed the file manager by clicking the wrench menu icon in the top right of the Chromebook screen, then selecting tools in the pull-down menu. Of course, we had no files yet, but the file manager was there.

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Fortunately, Samsung included a 4GB SD card to let users test music, video, and file playing and loading on the Series 5. We popped it in to the four-in-one card reader at the front of the Chromebook and accessed the photo pictured here. There was also music, which sounded fine on the machine's stereo speakers.

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Chromebook MP

This Chrome video played crisply in the Chromebook's media player. Users may upload files from SD cards or USB keys to the Chromebook, and the file manager will let users access those files quickly and easily. Having a file manager is a big deal, though the device is, again, light on storage.

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