Samsung Chromebook review

The Samsung Series 3 Chromebook reviewed and rated

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Product features

  • Screen Resolution : 1280 x 800
  • Processor Core : Dual-core (2 Core)

View full specification


  • Cheap
  • Light
  • Simple to use
  • Secure
  • Reasonable keyboard


  • Web apps only
  • Some build issues
  • Lacklustre screen
  • No 3G option in the UK
  • Insufficient power for HD or gaming

This is technically the fifth iteration of the Google Chromebook – so long as you count Google's own CR-48 prototype.

Despite being the fifth Chromebook, this Samsung Chromebook (formerly known as the Series 3 XE303C12) shouldn't be confused with the Samsung Chromebook 550

If you know about Chrome OS already, you'll know that this laptop isn't like mainstream Windows laptops or even machines such as the Apple MacBook Air or the new 13-inch MacBook Pro with Retina Display.

Samsung Chromebook XE303C12 Wi Fi review
Though it struggled with HD, SD video streams play perfectly well; no downloads, though

It doesn't run a conventional operating system such as Windows 8, Mac OS X Mountain Lion or even a straight Linux distro such as Ubuntu.

Instead, it is essentially a computer that does one thing: run a web browser.

In this case, of course, the web browser in question is Google Chrome.

Deciding whether or not the Samsung Chromebook is right for you is actually really easy. The first thing you have to know is that it's cheap. Really cheap.

Samsung Chromebook XE303C12 Wi Fi review
The Chromebook is a great machine to take to a café to get some work done

At a launch price of £229/USD$330/AU$319, it undercuts most conventional laptops, and is cheaper even than the new iPad mini – though it's more expensive than the low-end Android tablets such as the Google Nexus 7 and Amazon Kindle Fire HD.

That's only part of the decision, however.

The other – indeed, main – thing you have to consider is whether you can live with a laptop that only runs everything in a browser, and therefore, with some caveats, depends on being connected to the web at all times over Wi-Fi.

Samsung Chromebook XE303C12 Wi Fi review
There's no doubt that this is a Chromebook – look at that huge Chrome logo on the lid!

It's not hard to decide if this is something you can live with; take a moment, close your eyes, and think whether what you mostly do on a computer is done through a browser – or could be.

Because while you can install apps from the Chrome Web Store they're not really applications or programs as most of us would recognise them.

Samsung Chromebook XE303C12 Wi Fi review

In fact, they're little more than links that sit in your launcher and point to URLs on the web. (Actually, it's a little more complex than that; web apps can, if their developers implement it, add extra features such as using local storage on your Chromebook, rather than solely depending on storage on the servers of the companies whose services you're using.)

Samsung Chromebook XE303C12 Wi Fi review

Regardless of the technical caveats, however, it remains true that you can't install, say, Microsoft Office or Adobe Photoshop Elements on a Chromebook. That's not what the Chromebook is about.

Samsung Chromebook XE303C12 Wi Fi review
You need two hands to open the Chromebook; the hinge is reasonably stiff

It's a slim, light, cheap, long-lasting little laptop that, partly because really the only thing it does is run a web browser and isn't based on Windows, is very secure, and if you live your life in web apps such as Facebook and Google Docs (or think you could), or especially if you are already immersed in the Google ecosystem of Docs, Gmail, Calendars and more, it's worth considering.

It comes with 100 GB of Google Drive free for 2 years.

Samsung Chromebook XE303C12 Wi Fi review
Some applications such as Google Docs can work offline even if there's no Wi-Fi

Tech Specs

Product TypeChromebook
Green CompliantYes
Processor ManufacturerIntel
Graphics Controller ManufacturerIntel
Graphics Controller ModelHD Graphics
Wireless LANYes
Optical Drive TypeNo
Graphics Memory AccessibilityShared
Maximum Battery Run Time6 Hour
Finger Print ReaderNo
Solid State Drive Capacity16 GB
Backlight TechnologyLED
Product FamilyChromebook 5
Operating System Architecture32-bit
Processor Model867
Operating SystemChrome OS
Brand NameSamsung
Processor Speed1.30 GHz
Processor TypeCeleron
Screen Size30.7 cm (12.1")
Number of Cells4-cell
Screen Resolution1280 x 800
Standard Memory4 GB
Weight (Approximate)1.37 kg
Cache2 MB
Processor CoreDual-core (2 Core)
Green Compliance Certificate/AuthorityWEEE
64-bit ProcessingYes
Chipset ManufacturerIntel
Chipset ModelHM65 Express
Number of Total Memory Slots1
Display Screen TypeActive Matrix TFT Colour LCD
Display Screen TechnologySuperBright
Wireless LAN StandardIEEE 802.11a/b/g/n
Ethernet TechnologyGigabit Ethernet
Total Number of USB Ports2
Memory StandardDDR3-1333/PC3-10600
Height21.2 mm
Width291.8 mm
Depth216.7 mm
Screen ModeWXGA
Memory TechnologyDDR3 SDRAM
Product Series5
Product ModelXE550C22
Product NameChromebook Series 5 Wi-Fi
Pointing Device TypeTouchPad
Product LineChromebook
Aspect Ratio16:10
Manufacturer Part NumberXE550C22-A01UK
Manufacturer Website Address
Marketing Information

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Package Contents
  • Chromebook Series 5 Wi-Fi
  • Standard Battery
  • AC Adapter
Limited Warranty1 Year