Hands on: Samsung Chromebook Pro review

The next-generation Chromebook

What is a hands on review?
TODO alt text

Our Early Verdict

The marriage between Chrome OS and Android has culminated into the Samsung Chromebook Pro, a device that perfectly rides the line between tablet and notebook.

For

  • Stylus support debuts on Chrome OS
  • Gorgeous, simple design
  • Alluring display
  • Google Play apps

Against

  • Unknown price
  • 3:2 letterboxes terribly with movies

Over the years we’ve seen Chrome OS and Android steadily merge and now the union seems to have finally culminated in the Samsung Chromebook Pro, debuting at CES 2017.

It’s part Chromebook and part Android device, with a 360-degree convertible laptop design and 12.3-inch 3:2 screen reminiscent of tablets. What’s more, the Pro debuts stylus support on Chrome OS for the first time ever.

Weighing in at a scant 1.08Kg (2.38lbs), this all-metal Chromebook is one of the lightest laptops we’ve ever used. The design centers around rounded edges and a soft metal similar to the recently updated Samsung Notebook 9 and the Samsung Galaxy Tab Pro S before it.

Unlike many of Samsung’s other laptops, the Pro features a 3:2 display that you would more normally see on tablets. The increase in vertical pixels makes it easier to read webpages at a glance and view photos in fullscreen. However, streaming media and movies will letterbox heavily. 

No matter what type of media you consume on this Chromebook, it’ll look amazing. Samsung sticks to its tradition of including gorgeous displays on its devices and here we have a 12.3-inch QHD 2,400 x 1,600 resolution display. On top of being sharp, the display renders colors pop that with vivid richness without being overly saturated.

The Samsung Chromebook Pro will also be capable of streaming 4K media thanks to its Intel Core m3-6Y30 processor (0.90 GHz up to 2.20 GHz) and 4GB of onboard memory.

Additionally, Samsung is introducing all new ways to use a touchscreen on Chrome OS by integrating a built-in stylus. With the added digitizer you can finally write down notes and save them automatically to Google Keep. From there, Google can then convert your handwriting (or our personal chicken scatch) into digital documents and reminders. 

Fold back that display and the Samsung Chromebook Pro felt as natural as using any Android tablet whether we were adding songs to our Spotify playlist or slinging an avian arsenal in Angry Birds Blast! 

Samsung calls the the Chromebook Pro a new class of device with the Play Store in mind and we can’t wait to use every Android app on a Chromebook.

Early verdict

The Samsung Chromebook Pro breaks new ground for Chrome OS with a built-in stylus and paired with Google Keep, it could be the best tablet-laptop for managing our lives. Aside from the unique built-in pen, this is one of the best built Chromebooks yet with a high-res screen designed to consume media on the web.

Samsung has yet to announce pricing, but the South Korean electronics firm has promised it will be more affordable than past premium devices like the Dell Chromebook 13 and HP Chromebook 13. Additionally, Samsung is making its convertible Chromebook accessible with a more affordable $449 (about £360, AU$620) Plus model that will feature ARM processor.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Kevin has been a writer for the better part of five years covering everything from green energy to high octane cars, videogames and tech, biohacking, and even city politics. At TechRadar he's settled into a life as the Computing Editor while also covering cameras and shooting video. He can be often found in the lab testing a half dozen laptops at a time or deciding which camera bags to carry for the day.

What is a hands on review?

'Hands on reviews' are a journalist's first impressions of a piece of kit based on spending some time with it. It may be just a few moments, or a few hours. The important thing is we have been able to play with it ourselves and can give you some sense of what it's like to use, even if it's only an embryonic view. For more information, see TechRadar's Reviews Guarantee.