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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  • wumpus - Wednesday, October 31, 2012 - link

    I would assume that the real issue is if you can wipe chromeOS and replace with the linux of your choice. By the security choices you list, I wouldn't be using any type of windows box. From the comments below, there doesn't appear to be a "plug a USB stick in and hit a button" linux disto yet. Reply
  • jeffkro - Wednesday, October 31, 2012 - link

    Look into ixquick if you are worried about search privacy. Reply
  • jeffkro - Wednesday, October 31, 2012 - link

    "I'm not sure, but I think there's no choice for editing text apart from Google Docs?"

    If you are really tied to MS office you can use MS's cloud based office suite.
    Reply
  • jjj - Wednesday, October 31, 2012 - link

    Nice perf numbers.On power consumption both the software and the hardware are a lot different form a phone so maybe it's not as bad as you think.
    Now all we need is quad A15 :D (might be doable in tablets/notebooks with bigLITTLE or Nvidia's 4+1 even on 28nm)
    Reply
  • Roland00Address - Wednesday, October 31, 2012 - link

    It will be 4 A15 cores plus a low power companion core. Who knows when it will be actually in devices.

    I have not heard any announcements for quad core A15 from other sources (such as Samsung) that said it is going to happen sometime even if it has not been announced.
    Reply
  • Jorange - Wednesday, October 31, 2012 - link

    Excellent I've been waiting for this review. Exynos 5250 does seem a power hungry chap, which kinda destroys my hopes for a quad-core 5450 / Mali T658 in the next Galaxy phone, unless Samsung move to a new node. There is mention of 28nm process on Samsung's foundry site, combined with Big.little maybe my dreams are alive.

    Anand, any news when Samsung will adopt a new process node, and will it be 28nm or 22nm?

    Work is already underway to port Ubuntu to it:)

    http://www.omgubuntu.co.uk/2012/10/ubuntu-12-04-up...
    Reply
  • amdwilliam1985 - Wednesday, October 31, 2012 - link

    I share your excitement, I have SGS3 and I'm so looking forward to SGS4 and what it can bring to the table. Hopefully some sort of big.LITTLE design to lower the power draw, also there is a trend of bigger battery, hopefully the trend continues without much increasing in the physical size. Reply
  • Krysto - Thursday, November 01, 2012 - link

    Why? Samsung will do it just like Nvidia with Tegra 4, and put 1 or 2 Cortex A7 chips next to the A15's, which will handle 80% of the tasks. Reply
  • Aenean144 - Thursday, November 01, 2012 - link

    I'm curious how big.LITTLE is going to work in practice. The auto switching between discrete graphics and integrated graphics on laptops may give us a clue on how well it works.

    Hitting 9 W peak at 1.7 GHz? That's Haswell territory, and I'd surmise Haswell will crush any ARM, even the 64 bit ones in 2014, with a 10 W TDP envelope.

    Secondarily, either Samsung is binning some low power parts for the Nexus 10 and prospective smartphones, or they have to downclock. The big question would be how much would they have to downclock.

    On to the Nexus 10 analysis.
    Reply
  • Kevin G - Wednesday, October 31, 2012 - link

    Very respectable performance from the Cortex A15. It'll be interesting to see how it'll fair in a smart phone but the bar has been set. Reply

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