Samsung Chromebook Series 5 review
There are downsides to the Chrome OS model, though, especially for business use. Transmitting your information back and forth leaves you vulnerable to packet-sniffing attacks; and should your host suffer a hacker attack, you’re helpless. A service outage could leave you unable to work at all. And we doubt IT departments will be keen to support a platform that automatically patches itself with no local management.
The Chromebook Series 5 hardware adopts a simple design, to complement the new OS. The battery is internal, the RAM isn’t upgradeable and the hard disk isn’t accessible either – although you can get at the mSATA SSD slot if you unscrew the backplate.
Look around the edges and you’ll also notice there’s no wired Ethernet port, nor HDMI – only one mini-VGA output (the adapter is in the box), a single 3.5mm audio in/out socket and a SIM slot, enabling the 3G model to access a mobile internet connection. You get two USB 2 sockets and an SD card reader, but these aren’t as useful as you might expect (see Practicalities).
Turn to the keyboard and you’ll notice that, in place of function keys, the Chromebook has a row of navigation and control buttons. At the left, instead of Caps Lock, there’s a dedicated search key. The outsized trackpad measures a generous 116mm across the diagonal, allowing you to sweep across the full width of the screen in one movement. You can scroll up and down web pages with a two-finger drag, but Chrome OS doesn’t currently support swiping left and right to navigate between pages.
A final nice touch is the lid sensor: the Chromebook automatically powers on as soon as you open it up, and hibernates when you close it. It’s a little thing, but it helps the Chromebook feel quick and simple.
The Chromebook Series 5 has two USB ports; but there’s no way in Chrome OS to install new device drivers, so you can only connect pre-supported devices. That includes USB mice and keyboards, and approved wired Ethernet adapters. But you can forget about complicated items such as TV tuners or printers: if you want to print out a web page from Chrome OS, you’ll have to use Google’s roundabout Cloud Print service to send it via a different computer.
The main use for the USB sockets – such as the SD card slot, for example – is for connecting external storage. The Chrome OS file browser can view, play and queue the most common file types, including PDFs, pictures, music and videos, although high bit-rate HD files may stutter. Chrome Apps can also register services for specific file types: for example, once you’ve installed Picasa, the next time you connect a drive containing JPEG files, you’ll see the option to upload them to Picasa.
|Warranty||1yr collect and return|
|Dimensions||294 x 220 x 20mm (WDH)|
Processor and memory
|Processor||Intel Atom N570|
|SODIMM sockets free||0|
|SODIMM sockets total||0|
Screen and video
|Resolution screen horizontal||1,280|
|Resolution screen vertical||800|
|Resolution||1280 x 800|
|Graphics chipset||Intel GMA 3150|
|VGA (D-SUB) outputs||1|
|Internal disk interface||mSATA|
|Hard disk||Sandisk SSD|
|Optical disc technology||None|
|Replacement battery price inc VAT||£0|
|Wired adapter speed||N/A|
|802.11 draft-n support||yes|
|Integrated 3G adapter||yes|
|Wireless hardware on/off switch||no|
|Wireless key-combination switch||no|
|PC Card slots||0|
|USB ports (downstream)||2|
|PS/2 mouse port||no|
|9-pin serial ports||0|
|Optical S/PDIF audio output ports||0|
|Electrical S/PDIF audio ports||0|
|3.5mm audio jacks||1|
|SD card reader||yes|
|Memory Stick reader||no|
|MMC (multimedia card) reader||yes|
|Smart Media reader||no|
|Compact Flash reader||no|
|Pointing device type||Touchpad|
|Hardware volume control?||yes|
|Camera megapixel rating||1.0mp|
Operating system and software
|Recovery method||Create recovery USB flash drive|
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