Samsung Mini Laptop – Chromebook Series 5 550

There are not a lot of chromebooks available on the market today so it’s nice to see when manufacturers like Samsung launch such a laptop that runs on Google’s Chrome OS. Compared to last year’s version, the new model comes with a quicker processor, more memory and an improved operating system. The downside is that these advantages come at a price as the new model costs $449 which is quite a lot for such a simple laptop like this one. We should also mention that the version equipped with the Verizon 3G wireless antenna will set you back $549.

Under the hood of the Samsung Chromebook Series 5 550 is an Intel Celeron processor while for memory it packs 4GB of DDR3 RAM. In the storage department we find a small yet fast 16GB solid state drive on which is the Google Chrome operating system installed. This chromebook measures from Samsung measures 11.25 x 8.3 x 0.7 inches and it tips the scales at 3.1 pounds or 0.6 pounds more if we take into account its AC adapter.

Samsung Chromebook Series 5 550 (Source: betanews.com)

Samsung Chromebook Series 5 550 (Source: betanews.com)

In comparison to 2011, the Chrome operating system has been improved quite a lot in all major areas. To boot the system for the first time you’ll have to wait only seven seconds or so, and after logging in with your Google ID, you will be able to access or download all of your docs, mail, purchased applications and contacts as well.

One of the limitations of last year’s model was the file support but luckily this has been significantly improved as now the user can handle a vast number of file types and also archived files. However, it’s still no way near perfect as if you download a Word, Excel or a PowerPoint file, all you will get is a read-only file, meaning that you won’t be able to make any modifications. The good thing is that the images can be edited a little bit. The same treatment is applied for the files which are stored on a USB flash drive or on an SD card. In addition, it’s not that easy to attach such files to an e-mail, plus you are not able to just drag the files across to an SD card even if you are using File Manager.

Samsung Chromebook Series 5 550 (Source: betanews.com)

Samsung Chromebook Series 5 550 (Source: betanews.com)

As far as the file formats supported by Chrome OS, the list is quite generous as it includes: TXT, ZIP, HTML, PDF, M4V, MP4, MP3, OGM, OGV, OGA, OGG, WAV, WEBM and according to Google, most of the image file types. The operating system can also read from external drives that have one of the following file formats: NTFS, FAT, UDF, Ext2, Ext3, Ext4, HFS Plus and ISO9660, but keep in mind that the latter is read-only.

You will be downloading all of the compatible applications from the Chrome Web Store which has also been improved in comparison to 2011. It hosts a large number of applications, starting from productivity ones to games and entertainment apps. Most of these applications are free but keep in mind that all of them are going to be launched from a browser window because basically these are web applications. However, the good news is that some of these apps can also be launched while the Samsung Chromebook Series 5 550 is not connected to the Internet.

Samsung Chromebook Series 5 550 (Source: 4.bp.blogspot.com)

Samsung Chromebook Series 5 550 (Source: 4.bp.blogspot.com)

The Korean company has installed a 12.1-inch screen that has a native resolution of 1,200 x 800 pixels. The wide keyboard manages to be quite comfortable while the multitouch clickpad has a generous size so it is pretty easy to use. With a curb weight of just a little over three pounds, the chromebook is easy to carry around and feels pretty much like one of those expensive ultrabooks. It might not be as light or small as an iPad but it still remains easy to slip it in a bag. Both the exterior and the interior of this chromebook have been covered by silver plastic covers which not only look good but also give the feeling of a strongly built laptop that doesn’t suffer from any flex.

That raised, island-style keyboard comes with a bunch of buttons that certainly you won’t find on a Windows-running laptop or a Mac. One fine example would have to be the magnifying-glass icon which will open a new tab in Chrome for Google search. In addition, the keyboard also comes with dedicated buttons for volume, screen brightness, full-screen and page back / forth / reload. On the right side there’s a power button which will fire up or shut down the laptop right away.

Samsung Chromebook Series 5 550 (Source: cdn.pocket-lint.com)

Samsung Chromebook Series 5 550 (Source: cdn.pocket-lint.com)

Regarding ports and connectivity features, this Samsung Chromebook Series 5 550 comes with DisplayPort, stereo speakers, a headphone and microphone combo jack, two USB 2.0 ports, an SD card reader, along with support for 802.11n Wi-Fi, an Ethernet port and the aforementioned Verizon 3G support which is optional.

While last year’s model had just 2GB of RAM, the new version comes with double the memory and a 16GB SSD. That DisplayPort is compatible with HDMI, DVI and VGA with a dongle, while the Ethernet jack features a pull-down hinge, similar to what we’ve seen on other small laptops that have 11- or 12-inch screens. There’s also a high definition webcam that is very good when used with the onboard video chat provided by Google, plus it also is nice to use with Google+ and the recently introduced Hangout feature.

Samsung Chromebook Series 5 550 (Source: cdn.pocket-lint.com)

Samsung Chromebook Series 5 550 (Source: cdn.pocket-lint.com)

We don’t know for sure what kind of Intel Celeron processor is that but we can tell you that it is considerably faster than the Atom CPU utilized for the 2011 version of this chromebook from Samsung. The system has enough hardware power in order to play 1080p content without any problems, but keep in mind that the resolution of the screen is just 1,280 x 800 pixels. Most of the web-based games will work smooth, while switching between the programs is an easy thing to do.

As far as battery life is concerned, Samsung says that the one in this Chromebook Series 5 550 can last for six and a half hours which is a pretty good figure but there’s always room for improvements.

Mini Laptop Reviews – Samsung Chromebook Series 5

If you like staying up to date with the latest gadgets and news coming from the technology domain, you will probably appreciate the Samsung Chromebook Series 5 which is an appealing and affordable mini laptop that has been designed mostly to keep its user connected to the Internet. If you prefer using web-based applications like Gmail and Google Docs instead of Microsoft Office, this is truly an interesting method to stay online. Aside from this, you also get a decent battery life, instant-on performance and seamless built-in security, among other goodies which we will talk about.

Your Chromebook experience starts right from the moment when you open the laptop for the first time. Once you open the laptop’s lid the screen will light up and then you won’t spend too much time with the start-up process as all you have to do is connect to the Wi-Fi network, accept the terms of Google’s operating system, create or sign in into your Google account, choose an image associated to the user and you are done. We should also mention that there is also a brief tutorial about the touchpad and after that you are good and ready to start surfing the web.

Samsung Chromebook Series 5 (Source: computershopper.com)

Samsung Chromebook Series 5 (Source: computershopper.com)

You will certainly appreciate the absence of bloatware since the laptops running on this operating system have web-based apps. If you click the Home button located in the browser it will direct you to the cool Chrome Web apps collection. If you already have a Google account, the experience will be more than enjoyable since everything will be synced so all of your stuff will show up.

Let’s talk about the hardware components of this Samsung Chromebook Series 5 and mention that it is powered by a dual core Intel Atom N570 processor clocked at 1.66 GHz. In the memory department it packs 2GB of DDR3 running at 1,333 MHz while for storage you get only a small 16GB SSD (solid state drive). The chipset in this mini laptop is an Intel NM10 Express while the graphics power is handled by the integrated solution in the form of the NM10 Graphics Chipset. The system measures 11.6 x 8.6 x 0.8 inches and has a curb weight of 6.2 pounds or 0.7 pounds more if we take into account the AC adapter.

Samsung Chromebook Series 5 (Source: gadgets-article.com)

Samsung Chromebook Series 5 (Source: gadgets-article.com)

Even though for a first-time Chrome user the experience is very cool and interesting, in a small amount of time this luster will begin to wear off since some basic tasks are not supported. For example, you won’t be able to open a ZIP file because there is no support for this type of archive. On a Windows or Mac system this will take a few seconds to complete the task while for a Chromebook you will have to find a website, upload your ZIP file, wait until the file is processed and after that download the file.

From this issue rises another problem as you will basically need an Internet connection all of the time with a Chromebook since there aren’t a lot of offline apps. There are a few in the Chrome Web Store but most of them are in fact games, which are not that good by the way. However, since this system is design mostly for Internet use, this won’t be a real problem for those people that decide to opt for a Chromebook. The good thing is that if you are working on Google Docs and you lose your Internet connection, you won’t lose your work with the condition that you don’t close the tab. After the Internet connection is back, Google Docs will do an automatic save so your work will be safe.

Samsung Chromebook Series 5 (Source: kaawish.com)

Samsung Chromebook Series 5 (Source: kaawish.com)

As far as ports and connectivity features are concerned, the Samsung Chromebook Series 5 comes with VGA out in the video department, while for audio you only get a headphone / microphone jack. In the data area we notice two USB 2.0 ports and an SD card reader. You won’t find an expansion port or an optical drive, while in the networking department it comes with 3G mobile broadband and 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi.

It features a 12.1-inch widescreen LCD display has a native resolution of 1,280 x 800 pixels which is better than most of the netbooks that came out last year. We are dealing with a matte screen so you won’t have to worry about distracting reflections if you will be using this Chromebook outdoors or in bright lightning. What we don’t like are the disappointing viewing angles which means that you will have to sit right in front of the screen to get the best picture possible. The screen manages to be very bright and it can automatically adjust the brightness on its own which his quite a nice feature especially if you travel a lot and there are changing light conditions.

Samsung Chromebook Series 5 (Source: images.freshnessmag.com)

Samsung Chromebook Series 5 (Source: images.freshnessmag.com)

Regarding the keyboard, this seems to be quite large and comfortable and comes with dedicated buttons for Web navigation. You won’t find the traditional Caps Lock button because this has been replaced by the Search key. You also get keys for refreshing, paging backward and forward, switching browser windows and going full screen. We don’t have a lot of things to say about the touchpad because it works as it should.

Samsung Chromebook Series 5 (Source: geeky-gadgets.com)

Samsung Chromebook Series 5 (Source: geeky-gadgets.com)

Probably one of the best features of this Samsung Chromebook Series 5 would have to be its great battery life, allowing the system to run for eight and a half hours of continuous use according to Samsung, a result determined by an internal Google battery test. This test consists of doing e-mail, web browsing, watching videos at default screen brightness, using web applications and Wi-Fi connection on at all times and without the system staying in idle. We have to warn you tough that the body of this mini laptop is sealed so there probably isn’t a way to change the battery.

All things considered, this is a suitable choice for those of you that want to stay connected to the Internet all of the time and you don’t want to pay a lot of money. Speaking of money, when it came out, the model which we’ve talked about cost only $499 while other similar systems from other manufacturers are even more affordable.