Samsung Chromebook 550 review

Does the new Samsung Series 5 Chromebook overcome past problems?

Samsung Series 5 Chromebook
New Chromebook from Samsung

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Overall, the Samsung Series 5 Chromebook XE550C22 is a big leap forward for Chromebooks, and is easily the best Chromebook we've reviewed. Of course, the previous generation of Chromebook was rather disappointing, so that's not saying too much.

We liked

Improvements in both the hardware and Google's Chrome OS software are very welcome, and make using the Samsung Series 5 Chromebook XE550C22 much more enjoyable. There are still some flaws, though.

The improvements to Chrome OS, alongside extra RAM and processing power, make the Samsung Series 5 Chromebook much more desirable. You can really begin to see the promise of Chromebooks.

We disliked

Media playback and editing, in particular, are not served well by the Samsung Series 5 Chromebook's underpowered integrated graphics.

Even with the changes to Chrome OS that make it behave more like Windows or Mac OS X, it's still a limited operating system compared to the full fat operating systems. Apps are downloaded and installed from the Chrome Store, and while it's growing daily with plenty of apps, there's still a scarcity of apps that offer the depth and complexity of traditional desktop applications.

This means that despite the advancements, the Samsung Series 5 Chromebook is still a device that you'd only want to use for quick web-based tasks. Anything heavier and you'll want a standard laptop or desktop computer.

Final verdict

So without being able to recommend the Samsung Series 5 Chromebook as your only computer, does it do enough to warrant you buying it to go alongside your existing laptop, desktop or all-in-one? Sadly, not.

While it's certainly well built, the form factor isn't as convenient or as easy to carry as the Chromebook's chief competitor: tablets. While Chrome OS has been improved, it's not as powerful as the iPad's iOS, or that other Google operating system, Android. Has Google itself made the Chromebook obsolete with its Google Nexus 7 tablet?

Once again the Samsung Series 5 Chromebook XE550C22, like the Chromebooks before it, finds itself in an odd place.

On the one hand it's a forward thinking device, geared towards cloud services and apps. We feel that this is definitely the way technology is heading, but the tech isn't quite there yet. So in some respects, the Samsung Series 5 Chromebook is a bit ahead of its time.

However, its limited tech, along with the absence of next-gen internet standards such as 4G and 802.11ac Wi-Fi, means that it could soon start feeling out of date. The Samsung Series 5 Chromebook is a decent computer, and an improvement on its competitors, but it doesn't quite answer the Chromebook conundrum.

Matt Hanson
Managing Editor, Core Tech

Matt is TechRadar's Managing Editor for Core Tech, looking after computing and mobile technology. Having written for a number of publications such as PC Plus, PC Format, T3 and Linux Format, there's no aspect of technology that Matt isn't passionate about, especially computing and PC gaming. Ever since he got an Amiga A500+ for Christmas in 1991, he's loved using (and playing on) computers, and will talk endlessly about how The Secret of Monkey Island is the best game ever made.