Samsung Chromebook Series 5 review

Price when reviewed

Cloud computing is supposedly the future, but PCs and mobile devices have thus far remained overwhelmingly dependent on local hardware for data storage and processing. We’ve had to wait for Chrome OS to finally arrive – on the Samsung Chromebook Series 5 – for a product that embraces the concept in its purest form.

Chrome OS eschews local processing power in favour of online applications running through the Chrome web browser. Indeed, the browser is your only interface to the OS: it isn’t even possible to install other applications beyond browser plug-ins. It’s the web or nothing.

Samsung Chromebook Series 5

Living in the cloud

You may baulk at going without your regular desktop applications, but at the Chrome Web Store you’ll find web-based ways to achieve most computing tasks, as well as gateways to web content, downloadable themes and a good selection of games. These install as Chrome Apps – half-bookmarks, half-extensions that can not only take you directly to the relevant site but also install extra services in Chrome OS (see Hooking up).

And although the Chrome OS concept relies on an internet connection, many third-party applications can be used offline, using HTML 5’s new offline storage features. Offline versions of Gmail, Google Calendar and Google Docs are promised by late summer.

Strength in simplicity

The minimal model has several advantages. The OS boots in fewer than ten seconds – we timed 6.7 seconds to the login screen – and resumes from hibernation in two seconds flat, giving something close to the instant-on experience of a tablet.

Samsung Chromebook Series 5

The simple design also makes it easy for Google to trickle out frequent updates, as it does with the Chrome browser. It’s promised that every Chrome OS device will automatically gain new features over time, potentially including improvements to performance and battery life.

And because everything in Chrome OS runs within the browser, it’s sandboxed by default. Indeed, Google says the Chromebook needs no antivirus software – a bold claim, but one that’s backed up by a TPM-authenticated boot sequence. Certainly Chrome OS is far more difficult to hijack than Windows or OS X.

It’s arguably better for data security, too. Since your data lives in the cloud, you won’t lose it if your Chromebook is lost or stolen. All that’s held on the Chromebook’s tiny 16GB SSD is caches and settings – and even these are encrypted, so without your password a thief can’t access any information at all. You, meanwhile, can simply pick up another Chromebook, enter your credentials and carry on working.


Warranty1yr collect and return

Physical specifications

Dimensions294 x 220 x 20mm (WDH)

Processor and memory

ProcessorIntel Atom N570
RAM capacity2.00GB
Memory typeDDR3
SODIMM sockets free0
SODIMM sockets total0

Screen and video

Screen size12.1in
Resolution screen horizontal1,280
Resolution screen vertical800
Resolution1280 x 800
Graphics chipsetIntel GMA 3150
VGA (D-SUB) outputs1
HDMI outputs0
S-Video outputs0
DVI-I outputs0
DVI-D outputs0
DisplayPort outputs0


Spindle speedN/A
Internal disk interfacemSATA
Hard diskSandisk SSD
Optical disc technologyNone
Battery capacity8,280mAh
Replacement battery price inc VAT£0


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

Other Features

Wireless hardware on/off switchno
Wireless key-combination switchno
ExpressCard34 slots0
ExpressCard54 slots0
PC Card slots0
USB ports (downstream)2
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) readeryes
Smart Media readerno
Compact Flash readerno
xD-card readerno
Pointing device typeTouchpad
Hardware volume control?yes
Integrated microphone?yes
Integrated webcam?yes
Camera megapixel rating1.0mp
Fingerprint readerno
Smartcard readerno
Carry caseno

Operating system and software

Recovery methodCreate recovery USB flash drive

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