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
POST A COMMENT

149 Comments

View All Comments

  • garfnodie - Thursday, November 15, 2012 - link

    Let's see, Chromebook for $249, or Transformer w/ keyboard for $600. I'm guessing if you'r a broke college student who needs something simple, the Chromebook is looking pretty good. Reply
  • Myrandex - Wednesday, October 31, 2012 - link

    Eh instead of the Nexus 10 + keyboard, Microsoft Surface all the way! Reply
  • Krysto - Thursday, November 01, 2012 - link

    Why? I want a good high-res screen on my device if I'm going to $400, which is $100 cheaper and has the same amount of free storage as Surface. Reply
  • qwerty321 - Wednesday, March 20, 2013 - link

    Not for long. When PNaCl is stabilised, ChromeOS users will be able to install native software. Obviously not Windows API stuff, but then who in their right mind would use that garbage anyway? There's a few things in the Chrome store experimenting with NaCl (the early, non-portable version) now. Reply
  • Midwayman - Wednesday, October 31, 2012 - link

    I'm just a little shocked how how much the nexus 10 costs vs the chromebook. Clearly there is some price padding in the nexus 10 price. Reply
  • kllrnohj - Wednesday, October 31, 2012 - link

    How do you figure? The two share a similar SoC, and nothing else. In particular the Nexus 10 has that incredibly gorgeous 2560x1600 IPS display, whereas this Chromebook has a mediocre, off the shelf 1366x768 TN display. Given that there's only a $150 difference between the two, the screen alone easily accounts for most of that. Similarly, the N10 is a smaller device - cramming the same stuff into a smaller form factor is typically harder and more expensive. Reply
  • Midwayman - Wednesday, October 31, 2012 - link

    There aren't a lot of points of comparison with the Nexus 10 screen. Granted I'm sure the screen is more expensive, but similar size, similar SOC, same memory. Given the pricing trend with the nexus 7 and chromebook I expected a price around $50 less. Or at least to come with 32gb of memory for that price. I don't think $400 is a *bad* price, but it isn't as aggressive as I expected. I'm sure there will be a parts cost breakdown soon. Reply
  • Krysto - Wednesday, October 31, 2012 - link

    Nexus 10 is a high-end tablet. Chromebook is a pretty low-end laptop, in all regards. Reply
  • sna19703 - Wednesday, October 31, 2012 - link

    Get a Windows RT Tablet. Reply
  • kyuu - Thursday, November 01, 2012 - link

    Once they release one with a better SoC than Tegra 3 and a 1600x900 screen or better, sure. Reply

Log in

Don't have an account? Sign up now