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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  • superflex - Wednesday, October 31, 2012 - link

    Way to use the crappiest pictures of the display you could wrestle up.
    If the display is on par with other 768 TN panels used in laptops reviewed by AT, why did you use those washed out pictures of the display? I don't see the same lack of photography skills when reviewing other laptops with similar panels.
    I guess since Google isn't stroking AT the same way Apple does, a fair review with fair pictures would be pointless.
    Hacks!
    Reply
  • PsychoPif - Wednesday, October 31, 2012 - link

    Why would you base your opinion on a picture when they provide numerics to back up the review?

    Since I learned about Photoshop, I no longuer believe what I see on a picture anyway.
    Reply
  • superflex - Wednesday, October 31, 2012 - link

    Ever hear the phrase "A picture says a thousand words"?
    For the casual viewer, who may not delve into the display numbers, the pictures certainly do tell a story. It just depends on what story AT wants to tell.
    Reply
  • superflex - Wednesday, October 31, 2012 - link

    Look at the review of the Dell XPS 14Z. According to the numbers in this review, the panel in the Sammy CB is on par, if not better than the one used by Dell. Look at the pictures of the Dell display vs the CB display. Are they on par with one another?
    You can certainly influence a consumers purchasing decision based on some sub-par photographs.
    Well done AT.
    Reply
  • PeteH - Wednesday, October 31, 2012 - link

    Do you really think the people technologically sophisticated enough to be interested in an AnandTech review are the same people who would base their purchasing decision on one photograph of a display? Reply
  • superflex - Wednesday, October 31, 2012 - link

    Do you really think nobody will do a Google search for "Samsung Chromebook Review" and find AT's site on the list?
    I guess Google is smart enough to know a persons IQ and direct them away from AT and its "sophisticated" readers.
    Sheeesh, get over yourself.
    Reply
  • PeteH - Wednesday, October 31, 2012 - link

    Seriously? Just start reading the review, it is clearly not targeted at consumers. Heck, there's a photo of a circuit board on the first page! There's a tear down of the device (complete with photos) before the display is even discussed! Who is going to read this review other than people who care deeply about the technical aspects of the Chromebook?

    But I'm starting to think you know that, and the real reason you're upset is because AnandTech pointed out that the Chromebook has a crappy display.
    Reply
  • SND_ - Wednesday, October 31, 2012 - link

    Most likely the Chromebook doesn't have a very good display AND the picture sucks.

    I did notice that the display looks very poor in that image. I doubt it's that bad (two feet in front of you). . . typing "Chromebook" into Google will fetch you better pictures of suggesting a display of higher quality.
    Reply
  • LogOver - Wednesday, October 31, 2012 - link

    I would like to see a comparison with the Celeron-based Chromebook Reply
  • krumme - Wednesday, October 31, 2012 - link

    Celleron is a different price segment.

    The comparison was perfect and valid imho.
    Reply

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