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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  • extide - Wednesday, October 31, 2012 - link

    Yeah, basically this next gen 22nm Atom core is going to be make it of break it for the Atom. I can see the Atom getting canned entirely if the 2nd gen core on 22nm sucks. Reply
  • andrewaggb - Wednesday, October 31, 2012 - link

    Yeah, intel must be feeling crazy pressure. They are 6-12 months behind. Both Haswell and the new atom should be coming out now with windows 8. Reply
  • amdwilliam1985 - Wednesday, October 31, 2012 - link

    I'm impressed by the ARM performance, besides the performance and battery life, there is also the cost to consider. As far as I know, ARM cpu cost much less than x86 cpu.
    If I can get 50% of power for 25% of the price, that sounds like a good trade off in many scenarios.
    Reply
  • wsw1982 - Thursday, November 01, 2012 - link

    The samsung arm a15 is basically a 6+ w SOC... If you linear scale the medfield up 3 times, it means a three core atom, and three times the graphic power (does scale linearly), and i think the performance is comparable. The medfeld is arround 64 mm2, and the three core atom and graphic is, to my best guess, 100mm2, any one give me a estimation of the die size of the samsung a15? we can calculate the price :) Reply
  • krumme - Friday, November 02, 2012 - link

    The intereting thing is the total cost for the OEM. The A15 implemented as here must be dirt cheap.

    Intel have high fixed cost, but arm can spread the cost to phones whatever through both Samsung but primarily TSMC.

    In the long run it will be difficult for Intel the have the same low cost.

    Years back they could use old fab equipment for the Atom and in that way use production capacity that had been written off the the worst part. Today they they need the new process nodes to be competitive, and that will raise cost for the Atom. I think they are in a bad market here.

    Competing with TSMC and Samung is another world from competing with AMD and GF.

    They need their ultrabooks, but the market is to small for the future fab cost.

    Now arm can share cost from phones to notebooks. That is massive cost advantage imho.
    Reply
  • mayankleoboy1 - Wednesday, October 31, 2012 - link

    A chromebook is too niche a product to properly judge a SoC . Typically thermals are completely different.
    Its fast, yes, but how will it do in a smartphone ? And chromeOS has too few apps and the chromebook has too less a res to actually judge the best SoC .....
    Reply
  • Krysto - Thursday, November 01, 2012 - link

    Not like the Atom one was using bigger resolution. And Exynos 5 Dual can support up to 2560x1600, as we've already seen with Nexus 10. Reply
  • MilwaukeeMike - Wednesday, October 31, 2012 - link

    Maybe I missed it, but does this have a built in webcam? Looks like it does from info on other sites, and I'd like to know how it performs for Skype purposes if anyone knows. Sounds like videos from youtube/facebook work ok as well, which would make this a great netbook style option. Reply
  • deneb - Wednesday, October 31, 2012 - link

    For that price, why wouldn't anyone get a used laptop instead? At least then they'll get the benefit of a proper OS of their choice (linux or Windows, i don't know if used apple lappies go that low).

    Granted, it wouldn't be new, but at least it would be many times more functional - no? :)
    Reply
  • Midwayman - Wednesday, October 31, 2012 - link

    Battery life. A old low end laptop is going to have terrible battery life. Reply

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