Samsung Chromebook 2 (13.3in) review

Price when reviewed

Most Chromebooks we see at PC Pro are fairly similar devices, but the Samsung Chromebook 2 13.3in is a product that bucks the trend. With a Full HD screen and a chassis inspired by Samsung’s Ultrabook range, it offers a touch of luxury in a sector all too often associated with no-frills, back-to-basics products. Read on for our in-depth Samsung Chromebook 2 review.

This wide expanse of LCD means it’s notably larger than the 11.6in version we reviewed recently, but Samsung has managed to keep both the weight and thickness down to manageable levels. The Chromebook 2 13.3in tips the scales at 1.4kg, a mere 200g heftier than its smaller sibling, and it’s exactly the same thickness: 20mm including the rubber feet.

Samsung Chromebook 2 13.3in

The design of the 13.3in model is also much like that of its smaller cousin. It has a leather-effect texture covering the lid, replete with fake stitching around the edge, and a slick of shiny, semi-matte plastic surrounds the screen, keyboard and underside. Only the colour is different: where the 11.6in is black, the 13.3in version comes in what Samsung calls Luminous Titan; that’s grey, with a very slight brown tint, to anyone else.

On the edges are two USB sockets (one USB 2, one USB 3), an HDMI output, a Kensington Lock attachment, a 3.5mm headset jack and a single microSD slot, allowing you to expand on the 16GB of internal storage.

Samsung Chromebook 2 13.3in review: screen and ergonomics

The screen is what this Chromebook is all about, though, and it’s a step up from what you’ll find on most Chromebooks. Brightness reaches a maximum of 247cd/m2 and contrast peaks at 476:1 – figures that translate to reasonably bright, punchy images. The 13.3in, Full HD screen is significantly better than the display on the 11.6in model, too, which only reached a brightness of 210cd/m2 and dropped behind with a contrast ratio of 334:1.

There’s only one Chromebook that gives the Samsung’s Full HD display a real run for its money: the HP Chromebook 11 (web ID: 384781), the 1,366 x 768 IPS panel of which sacrifices pixel density for wider viewing angles and richer colour reproduction.

Samsung Chromebook 2 13.3in

It’s noticeable that the Samsung’s colour temperature is on the cold side, with grey tones taking on a bluish tint, but it’s the extra resolution of the Full HD panel that makes the biggest difference. Text, graphics, photos and videos all look extra-crisp, and there’s much more room to spread out, allowing you to view a Google Drive document and a website comfortably side by side, for example.

In fact, the screen on the Chromebook 2 has a higher pixel density than many significantly more expensive laptops. Whichever way you look at it, it’s quite an achievement for a laptop that costs only £329.

Samsung hasn’t sacrificed the essentials to keep the price down, either. The spacious Scrabble-tile keyboard makes touch-typing very comfortable indeed, and the large touchpad beneath doesn’t throw a spanner in the works. There’s a reasonable specification elsewhere, too, with 2×2 stream 802.11ac Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4 and, as mentioned, 16GB of internal storage. The end result is a highly usable, affordable portable that’s ideal for carrying out basic office tasks and browsing the web.

Samsung Chromebook 2 13.3in review: Performance and battery life

As with its smaller cousin, the Chromebook 2 13.3in’s main weakness lies in its performance. Under the hood, it’s powered by an ARM-based, eight-core Samsung Exynos Octa 5800 SoC with four cores running at 2.1GHz and four running at 1.3GHz. There’s 4GB of RAM to go with this, and a Mali-T628 MP6 GPU.

Samsung Chromebook 2 13.3in

On paper, this is an impressive-looking piece of silicon, but, once again, the Samsung doesn’t feel as snappy in general use as Chromebooks we’ve used running Intel Celeron processors. Scrolling up and down hefty web pages and navigating around Google Docs and Google Sheets files is far from smooth, and we didn’t have to look hard in the Chrome Web Store to find games with which it struggled; even Angry Birds is juddery. In both the SunSpider and Peacekeeper benchmarks, the Chromebook 2’s results were mediocre, with results of 1,052ms and 1,287 respectively.

On the plus side, it wakes up from sleep a touch quicker than its smaller sibling, and the light demands of Chrome OS means that it boots from cold in only eight seconds. Battery life, as with the 11.6in version, is solid, too. Looping a cached video at 720p, with Wi-Fi off and the screen set to a brightness of 120cd/m2, saw the Chromebook 2 13.3in last for 6hrs 56mins – longer than most rivals, although shorter than its stablemate.

Samsung Chromebook 2 13.3in

Samsung Chromebook 2 13.3in review: verdict

Performance isn’t brilliant, then, but there’s little doubt that the Samsung Chromebook 2 13.3in represents a good deal. You’ll find it hard to match the combination of portability and battery life in any Windows laptop at this price, let alone the inclusion of high-end treats such as a Full HD display and 802.11ac wireless.

Also, bear in mind that Google’s OS has come on a lot in recent times: it allows documents and spreadsheets to be edited offline, for example, and some apps and games can be installed locally. At the same time, the amount you can get done online has increased. If you haven’t considered a Chromebook before, the Samsung Chromebook 2 13.3in might make you think again.


Warranty1 yr return to base

Physical specifications

Dimensions322 x 223 x 20mm (WDH)
Travelling weight1.7kg

Processor and memory

RAM capacity4.00GB
Memory typeDDR3
SODIMM sockets free0

Screen and video

Screen size13.3in
Resolution screen horizontal1,920
Resolution screen vertical1,080
Resolution1920 x 1080
Graphics chipsetMali-T628 MP6
VGA (D-SUB) outputs0
HDMI outputs1
S-Video outputs0
DVI-I outputs0
DVI-D outputs0
DisplayPort outputs0


Battery capacity4,700mAh
Replacement battery price inc VAT£0


Wired adapter speedN/A
802.11a supportyes
802.11b supportyes
802.11g supportyes
802.11 draft-n supportyes
Integrated 3G adapterno
Bluetooth supportyes

Other Features

Wireless hardware on/off switchno
Wireless key-combination switchno
ExpressCard34 slots0
ExpressCard54 slots0
PC Card slots0
USB ports (downstream)1
FireWire ports0
PS/2 mouse portno
9-pin serial ports0
Parallel ports0
Optical S/PDIF audio output ports0
Electrical S/PDIF audio ports0
3.5mm audio jacks1
SD card readeryes
Memory Stick readerno
MMC (multimedia card) readerno
Smart Media readerno
Compact Flash readerno
xD-card readerno
Pointing device typeTouchpad
Speaker locationBase
Hardware volume control?yes
Integrated microphone?yes
Integrated webcam?yes
Camera megapixel rating0.9mp
Fingerprint readerno
Smartcard readerno
Carry caseno

Battery and performance tests

Battery life, light use6hr 56min

Operating system and software

Operating systemChrome OS
OS familyChrome OS

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