Display Quality

The new Chromebook's display is still a fairly mediocre TN panel, but for anyone used to the majority of low cost PC notebooks over the past few years it's really not any different. The 16:9 display measures 11.6 inches along the diagonal with a 1366 x 768 resolution.

Viewing angles are pretty bad. Max brightness tops out at 233 nits, although contrast ratio is better than a lot of low cost notebooks. The low max brightness means that outdoor use will be an issue, generally speaking for really bright sunlight you'll need something closer to 500 nits to be usable.

LCD Analysis - White

LCD Analysis - Black

LCD Analysis - Contrast

Given the price tag however, the Chromebook's display is passable. What's more bothersome is that PC makers were fine shipping this quality of a display in systems that were 2x the price of the new Chromebook.

Keyboard & Trackpad

The new Chromebook retains the chicklet keyboard that its predecessors introduced. Key feel is a little mushier than I would like but overall the keyboard is pretty good. There's obviously no backlight, which again is a concession Samsung had to make to hit the Chromebook's aggressive price point.

As this is a Chrome OS device there's no Windows/Apple key alternative, just oversized control/alt keys which I really do appreciate.

Chrome OS' keyboard shortcuts do mimic those of OS X. Ctrl + W will close a Chrome tab/window, and more universally ctrl + L will shift focus to the omnibar. There's a row of shortcut keys at the top of the keyboard. Shortcuts include brightness and volume controls, page forward/back and refresh keys, as well as dedicated keys for maximizing the current window and switching between windows (although alt+tab still works for that as well). There's no capslock key, but a dedicated search key in its place. Perhaps Google doesn't want Chromebook users to contribute to overly capitalized YouTube comments.

None of these aspects of the keyboard are new, they've been around since the first Chromebook. There are no dedicated page up/down, home or end keys unfortunately (although alt + up/down will work as a page up/down replacement).

The trackpad is the weaker of the two input devices on the new Chromebook, and even it isn't all that bad. Tracking accuracy is good, and I never had any unintentional taps. The trackpad is actually a clickpad with no discrete buttons. Two fingers on the clickpad will trigger a right click (a two finger tap and click both work). Two finger scrolling is also supported, although there aren't any other gestures. My biggest problem with the trackpad is its click + drag performance isn't all that good. Compared to some of the garbage that has shipped in much more expensive PC notebooks (and Ultrabooks for that matter), Samsung did a good job with the Chromebook.

Inside the new Chromebook User Experience & Usability
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  • iwod - Thursday, November 01, 2012 - link

    Both Atom and Sandy /Ivy Bridge uses 4 thread compared to 2 threads the Cortex A15 uses. A better comparison would be a Quad Core A15. Which free the Core from doing other work in a Single Threaded Benchmarks and better illustrate mutithreaded performance.

    The A50 will offer 20 - 30% performance increase compared to A15 at 32 bit and further improvement at 64bit mode. This, with higher frequency and Quad Core or Hex Core will surely bridge the gap between everyday Laptop and a Chromebook.
    Reply
  • Krysto - Thursday, November 01, 2012 - link

    It doesn't matter. HT is pretty gimmicky anyway. You can maybe 10% improvement in performance.

    Don't forget A57 will not just have better IPC than A15, but will also go to higher clock speeds - up to 3 Ghz, actually. A quad core A57 chip at 3 Ghz will be more than enough performance for most people, while having very good battery life.
    Reply
  • nishantmohan - Thursday, November 01, 2012 - link

    "Plugging the Chromebook into a relatively modern (~2 year old) Samsung LED backlit LCD HTDV caused the Chromebook to reboot itself."

    i dont know why but I burst into laughter when i saw this....
    Reply
  • legoman666 - Thursday, November 01, 2012 - link

    Any word on the ship date for the 3g version? I preordered one on Amazon on the 19th, no word on ship date and I can't find one mentioned anywhere. Reply
  • TrackSmart - Thursday, November 01, 2012 - link

    I opened this page and got taken here: http://testables.net/d/juicyru.com

    I'm guessing this is not what you guys agreed to regarding what advertisements on your site can do. Here's the brilliant message you get:

    CONGRATULATIONS!
    You've been selected from the [MY STATE] region to take part in our annual visitor survey.
    This will only take 30 seconds of your time and will enhance user experience. Upon completion you will have the opportunity to get a iPad or iPad Mini, a $1000 Best Buy Card , or a $1,000 Visa Gift Card.
    Reply
  • Mumrik - Friday, November 02, 2012 - link

    "PC notebooks that still struggled with the same virus/malware issues they'd been facing for years"

    That comment had me confused. Is he talking about the crap companies put onto their non-business notebooks or did I miss some sort of virus/malware hell in 2010 that somehow later got solved?
    Reply
  • yannigr - Friday, November 02, 2012 - link

    This could be better, but it is ok
    I have seen worst than this
    What did you expect with so low price
    This does not work but let's see something else that works
    And here it is a USB 3.0 that works as a slow USB 2.0, and here it is a slot that it is not a slot but a hole

    More or less this is what I was reading in this article. So you pay $249 and you buy a very light machine with overall poor quality and an OS that it is very limited in what you can do with it. And only 6 hour battery time?
    Better buy a netbook, tablet or a second hand laptop for that price.
    Reply
  • koss - Friday, November 02, 2012 - link

    "Note that the previous Atom solution required two chips: the N570 and its NM10 Express PCH. The !!! -= N570 =- !!! had a 2.1W TDP and was used for all IO, while the N570 and its two Atom cores needed about 8.5W. "

    I guess that is the NM10 actually? Otherwise it makes no sense, to me at least.
    I keep reading and loved the expression that "ARM is the new AMD", perhaps we should call them "ARMeD", since they are in the same boat now.
    Reply
  • owned66 - Saturday, November 03, 2012 - link

    put ubuntu on it = win Reply
  • runeks - Monday, November 05, 2012 - link

    Anyone care to take a guess on how much this device would retail for if it included a battery with 50% or 100% more capacity? That would be a 45 or 60 Whr battery, respectively. I think it would fairly useful to be able to pull 9 hours from a single charge. Reply

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