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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  • MadMan007 - Wednesday, October 31, 2012 - link

    It is a valid comparison, however there is an unanswered question: What do I get for stepping up to the Celeron Chromebook? And that is a valid question, even though at that price point there are more options. Reply
  • Selden - Wednesday, October 31, 2012 - link

    By stepping up to the Samsung 550, you get a larger and brighter (300 nits vs 200 nits) screen (but lower resolution, 1280x800), 4 GB of RAM, slightly better faster CPU performance, longer battery life (much bigger battery), and a card reader slot that doesn't let the card stick out (approx. 1 cm) from the case. For performance, the 4 GB of RAM is probably the most significant factor, as it lets you open many more tabs. Reply
  • jeffkro - Wednesday, October 31, 2012 - link

    You also get the ability to play netflix content. Reply
  • LogOver - Thursday, November 01, 2012 - link

    Some benchmarks shows 50-80% better performance for 1.3Ghz Celeron-based chromebook.
    http://gigaom.com/mobile/intel-v-arm-the-chromeboo...
    I would like to see confirmation from Anand. Also some GPU benchmarks (Celeron vs. Exynos) would be welcomed.
    Reply
  • krumme - Friday, November 02, 2012 - link

    And that just proves celeron is no competitor for A15 as the performance difference means nothing compared to the total cost differences for the intended segment.

    An more interesting comparison would even be to the old AMD APU bobcat, in some low voltage variants.

    But ofcourse its the new lowcost AMD/Intel variants that is going to be the main competitors.
    Reply
  • LogOver - Friday, November 02, 2012 - link

    Samsung asks ~$450 for Celeron Chromebook, but this doesn't mean that Celeron-based netbooks have to be expensive. You can buy Acer AO756 for just $265 from bestbuy (and it inclides$100 Win Home Premium and 320Gb HDD which chromebook lacks)
    http://www.bestbuy.com/site/searchpage.jsp?_dyncha...
    And if you wish, you can install Chrome OS on it by yourself.
    Reply
  • AgeOfPanic - Wednesday, October 31, 2012 - link

    Anand, could you tell us how it compares to the Atom in day to day use? I currently own a Samsung Series 5 chromebook and I would like to know if it makes any sense to upgrade to this model. Seems I would have to take a hit in battery life, but I heard you can at least watch 720p Youtube videos on it. Reply
  • Krysto - Thursday, November 01, 2012 - link

    You can watch 1080p videos on it if you want. It has a vastly better GPU. Maybe you can sell yours, and pay little to no difference to get this new one. The performance improvement overall should be noticeable. Reply
  • AgeOfPanic - Thursday, November 01, 2012 - link

    Anand doesn't seem to be too convinced. Performance in normal browsing seems acceptable. Don't really understand, because Chrome on a tablet is plenty fast. Reply
  • krumme - Wednesday, October 31, 2012 - link

    It looks like ARM 15 is making it very difficult for Intel and AMD for this low cost market. Especially with win8 machines comming.

    I dont know how Intel can catch up to this competition with the new Atom. When 22nm Atom hits market, TSMC is printing dirt cheap A15 on 28nm for everyone and his brother; tablets, phones, notebooks. Heck even some server segments is going Arm. And the performance looks like its sufficient for grandma.

    The new Atom and new bobcat better have some tangible performance benefits both on cpu and gpu side - they simply need to drive most if not all, pc games well on a notebook.

    I am impressed by the performance of ARM here.
    Reply

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