“You get what you pay for!” Old Granny Bagg used to say, and as far as this crustacean is concerned, it still holds true.
What constitutes value for money ‘today day’, as the Jamaicans say, really is different to Granny Bagg’s day. The thing is, at US$400, Samsung’s glittery new ‘high-end’ Chromebook 2 costs more than the average laptop running the ultra-lightweight Chrome OS. The thing is, you really do get quite a bit of stuff for your money.
You will really love the 13.3-inch 1080p display. Thirteen inches is pretty much just the right size, neither too tiny to type or watch movies and sports on and not too heavy. The 13-inch Toshiba Chromebook and 14-inch HP Chromebook 14 are both closer to a hundred books cheaper, but neither offers the 1920×1080 resolution of this new Samsung model.
The Samsung Chromebook 2 comes powered by a 2.1GHz, eight-core Exynos 5 Octa CPU, and squeezes in 4GB DDR3L low-voltage RAM. Yet here’s one of the ways in which Samsung and I never see eye to eye. All new design and engineering, they say, means the processor squeezes as much battery life as possible out of the Chromebook 2 by using two separate cores. One low-voltage core for the general zigs and zags of daily life, email, messaging and meandering around on the Web in general, while only utilizing higher-voltage cores for intensive tasks and full-HD movies off the processor. So why are Samsung still slip-sliding around the same maximum of 8.5 hours per charge of its battery? This is not necessarily bad, per sé, but short of the 10-plus hours you’ll see on many less specced out Chromebooks. The thing is, anecdotally-speaking, and I’m not saying there was anything scientific about what I learned from chats with scores of fellow interested parties, the longer you tax every previous model of the Samsung Chromebook, the slower it works. The more ruggedly-built Apple and Lenovo may cost more, but they tend to maintain their consistency at sucking up the juice for much, much longer. Again, just saying’! Just an opinion!
The slate-gray laptop weighs a wee bit more than three pounds, according to Bloomberg News. Shiny and slick, it has a slightly concave-key chiclet keyboard, like the old plastic Macbook, only with a matte finish on the keys. The edges have the same faux-leather stitching and feel as recent Samsung devices like the Galaxy Tab Pro and Galaxy Note 3. Samsung, to all intents and purposes, is into a pimp-like pleather kick these days. Here in the good ol’ U.S. of A, I can see a generation of new forward-thinking procurers of fresh flesh waiting in the Greyhound bus terminals of Chicago, Los Angeles and Atlanta for the latest teenage runaways with Chromebook 2 at their side.
If you can get past that, input-wise, you get a full HDMI port, two USB ports (one 3.0 and one 2.0), a MicroSD card reader, and a 3.5mm headphone port. There’s a very nifty 720p-capable Webcam above the display, and Samsung says this is the first Chromebook edition “certified for Google Hangouts chats.” Samsung is also touting greater cross-platform options with these new Chromebooks via a ‘Software Value Pack’ including AirDroid, which lets you run Android apps on the Chromebook within a virtual environment.
Set for release in the first week of April, the 13-inch Chromebook 2 is slated for release in April, and adds up to a capable, arguably pricy new toy with fantastic screen resolution. Its weight, size, and price will make the laptop a solid choice for students on a budget or anyone who does a lot of work in Google Docs. Whether you’re buying for yourself or your kid, be sure to invest in the warranty! Take note that there’ll also be an 11-inch version of the Chromebook 2 coming out a few weeks later, although its screen resolution and other specs will be significantly lower in quality than the bigger-screened model.