Samsung’s $349 16GB Chromebook reviewed

Open it up and you’ll see an 11.6 inch HD-capable screen and wide keyboard, the latter of which lacks any keys that felt out of place on Acer’s machine, such as the “Fn” function and search keys. Making up for this are some keys that are extra long, easier to use, and – more importantly – harder accidentally press and waste a keystroke in frustration.

Likewise, the function keys at the top of the keyboard are dedicated function keys, not just keys with a double purpose, especially since some of the “F” function keys don’t really have uses under Chrome, as far as we can tell.

It is a reasonably comfortable keyboard, with just enough travel, and in writing the review on the Samsung Chromebook, we certainly had no complaints.

Over in that display section, Samsung has gone with a reasonably matt screen in its Chromebook, a choice which makes it easier to use thanks to the lack of reflections, which was a problem in Acer’s equivalent machine.

What Samsung’s Chromebook screen lacks, however, is a decent amount of contrast. Images and black-on-white text look dull, and while the reflectivity is low (yay!), so is the strength of the screen, which just feels like it needs more oomph and pow.

Viewing angles could do with some work too, and you’ll find that this screen needs to be positioned correctly otherwise the colours wash out or invert completely.

One thing we can say we like is the battery, which despite the small and slim size of Samsung’s first Chromebook, manages to achieve almost six hours of life with WiFi switched on.

With wireless constantly providing a synchronised connection for our Google documents, six hours isn’t bad at all.

Performance wise, we saw better results than the Acer, but the more tabs you have open, the worse it gets, with a typing response that gradually slows to a crawl and eventually throws your text on the screen after a second of typing with no response.

When lots of things are happening, you can see the slow-downs in more than just typing, with some lag appearing in tabs you happen to be scrolling, too.

It’s not a bad issue, the chip Samsung has opted for doesn’t help Chrome OS in such a way where excess multitasking – or just lots of Chrome browser tabs – is a strong possibility.

On the positive side, however, our return from standby on the Samsung Chromebook was roughly one to two seconds, while booting took ten seconds, showing that this computer was great if you want to work without waiting for the computer to catch up to you.

One area that might annoy some, though, is the storage, which in this computer is set to 16GB internal, with only around 10GB available for use.

This number pales in comparison to the 320GB hard drive Acer offered in its own version of the Chromebook, though we’re not bothered in the slightest.

Google Chrome OS still lacks a proper way to explore your hard drive, and since it relies so heavily on streaming and wireless connectivity, most of your storage is handled online rather than offline and on your physical drive.

Take music, for instance, which is stored online in Google’s Play Music account and streamed to your computer. While Windows and Mac PCs can download the tracks bought and stored on this system using Music Manager (as well as Android smartphones), Chrome OS lacks this piece of software, so downloading from your account isn’t as easy, and most will just stream.

Movies purchased through Google’s Play Movie system aren’t stored locally either, streamed instead via YouTube to a tab on your Chromebook’s Chrome browser.

In essence, very little is sent to your hard drive and kept there, and so the majority of things that will be stored on the ten-ish gigabytes of storage available locally are things you would have put there, whether it’s music you wanted copied over, movies, photos, or documents you plan to edit.

Applications don’t take much room at all because they’re generally web based, and you can’t install Windows or Mac apps to this, so there’s no reason to download any of that.

Basically, having 16GB of flash storage actually makes sense for Chrome OS, because you’re not exactly leaving much on your hard drive.

That said, we can still see people who would feel a little bugged by the storage situation, especially if Google ever updates Chrome in such a way where files are easily explored and accessed on the hard drive.


While there are better machines out there, though not necessarily for the price, this is easily the best Chromebook we’ve seen (out of two), and looks to be a decent option for anyone who doesn’t want to spend too much money, yet wants to surf and write and write and surf.

Value for money
Ease of Use
Reader Rating0 Votes
Slim and light; Relatively inexpensive; Comfortable keyboard; Decent battery life; Supports USB 3.0; Matt screen;
Can still see the odd slowdown; Inclusion of only 16GB storage (with 10GB available) might be a limiting factor to many; Screen lacks contrast and wide viewing angles;