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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  • Krysto - Thursday, November 01, 2012 - link

    Which is going to be another year, by which point Android tablets will be on to the next-gen hardware. Reply
  • name99 - Sunday, November 04, 2012 - link

    You have an odd definition of awesome.

    "The display is functional but not very good. Build quality is decent but the new Chromebook is still a plastic notebook. Thankfully the keyboard and trackpad are both pretty decent."

    Add in HDMI that doesn't work, a weird slot that isn't connected to anything, and the various other hassles described and I'm not sure exactly what the awesome here is.
    Reply
  • Andhaka - Wednesday, October 31, 2012 - link

    Seems a nice machine on paper, but I don't really know how much I would trust an "always online" Google machine with my data.

    Seems too much of a trade off.

    Cheers
    Reply
  • coder543 - Wednesday, October 31, 2012 - link

    Because I'm sure that your secrets are personally being observed by Google since they're just ever so valuable. That's the only reasonable line of reasoning.

    /sarcasm

    They're just happy to make advertising revenue off of you, and since you'll likely use Google from whatever machine you have, it won't make much difference to not use this one. Also consider that if you were doing something highly sensitive, you could always walk over and turn on your computer, assuming you trust it, especially if you have Windows. I'd be less inclined to trust the good will of the parasites lurking around on there.
    Reply
  • coder543 - Wednesday, October 31, 2012 - link

    turn on your regular* computer
    /typo fixed
    Reply
  • Andhaka - Wednesday, October 31, 2012 - link

    Actually I work with a lot of NDA stuff (translations mostly) so yes, I really have a lot of secret stuff on my computer. ;) And believe me when I say I don't use google for ANYTHING on my work related projects. :)

    And the problem is not google per se, but having a machine that's not really usable if not online. I'm not sure, but I think there's no choice for editing text apart from Google Docs?

    This is not an objective opinion. It's rather my personal view of this kind of machines. I'd like a super lightweight portable laptop, but not one that's tied hands and feet to an online service.

    Just MY two cents. :)
    Reply
  • jamyryals - Wednesday, October 31, 2012 - link

    I'm pretty sure they support offline Google docs using a local disc cache. Still though, I'm pretty sure we are not the target for this platform. Reply
  • Andhaka - Wednesday, October 31, 2012 - link

    Exactly what I was saying. For my kind of work it's not a viable solution. :) Reply
  • chrnochime - Wednesday, October 31, 2012 - link

    So what do you use at work instead of Google then? Curious because AFAIK all other search engines do the same as Google... Reply
  • Andhaka - Wednesday, October 31, 2012 - link

    That's the point. For really important NDA stuff we don't use search engines, AT ALL. :)
    I can connect to a company server with extensive documentation to serch for specific infromation on the project I'm working on (usually given to us by the committent), but I cannot really access Google or Bing and search for things i need.

    For lesser project we use a company issued google profile for searches but no online document manipolation is allowed, meaning no Google Docs, Office Online, Dropbox, iCloud or anything similar. We have company online storage and we use VPN connections with tokens to generate the cyphers needed to connect. I cannot even send work files via email even if our email server is phisically based in our campus. :)

    They take security very seriously where I work. ;)

    Cheers
    Reply

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