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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  • zappb - Wednesday, October 31, 2012 - link

    looks awesome - between this and the Nexus 10 Reply
  • Flunk - Wednesday, October 31, 2012 - link

    I recommend the Nexus 10, better screen and OS. ChromeOS is a real turkey. Reply
  • quiksilvr - Wednesday, October 31, 2012 - link

    It really boils down to what you need. If you can live without a keyboard, get the Nexus 10. If you are on a budget, get this. If you want a keyboard and are willing to shell extra dough, get the Nexus 10 and a bluetooth keyboard. Reply
  • B3an - Wednesday, October 31, 2012 - link

    He wasn't talking about keyboards and form factors. Chrome OS is almost completely useless for anything more than browsing the net. It's about equivalent to a basic feature phone in capability. It's for such a small niche, about the only people i could see buying Chrome OS notebooks are extremely poor students, and even then it probably wont do everything they want. Reply
  • jeffkro - Wednesday, October 31, 2012 - link

    Another niche market is for people that do online investing and banking with significant assets. The added security of chrome OS is well worth having for $250 you won't find much cheaper insurance. Windows is just not safe for online financial transactions, which of course the poor student doesn't have to worry about. Reply
  • jeffkro - Wednesday, October 31, 2012 - link

    By the way I find google docs to be pretty useful for productivity. I used to use open office and since I made the switch I haven't looked back. Netflix not being supported on the ARM version is kind of a bummer though. I think Google should make sure that Hulu, Netflix, and Amazon streaming all work as this definitely fits under the umbrella of cloud computing. Reply
  • damianrobertjones - Thursday, November 01, 2012 - link

    Windows is safe... Don't run as full admin and maybe the user might have some common sense not to visit porn sites Reply
  • klmccaughey - Thursday, November 01, 2012 - link

    No, they can use a Chromebook to visit porn sites or any other activity (long list) that might get them on trouble in Windows.

    I maintain the computers (just) in my house and home office, and for one user I really wish he had a Chromebook and not a Windows laptop - I keep having to restore it from image.

    Oh and I use Windows 7 x64 as my main machine, with Ubuntu VM for development.
    Reply
  • Wolfpup - Friday, November 02, 2012 - link

    Nothing wrong with porn sites...like any other business they're not especially wanting to screw over their customers. Reply
  • Sabresiberian - Friday, November 02, 2012 - link

    ChromeOS is NOT more secure than Windows. You are putting too much stock in anti-Microsoft blather from Google. Might as well listen to Apple's opinion of Windows.

    Does this SoC even have the hardware security features built into Intel and AMD x86 chips (AES, Intel Secure Key, OS Guard)? I don't think it does. ChromeOS might require different methods to crack, but it is not more secure, and the hardware of the Chromebook is less secure.

    Besides, I'd imagine any successful investor is going to be using something a lot more satisfying than a tiny, cheap netbook variation with a so-so screen.
    Reply

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