Samsung Chromebook review

Samsung's Chromebook Series 5 arrives on UK shores

Samsung Chromebook
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samsung chromebook

As soon as Chrome OS was first demonstrated we had a feeling that its much vaunted simplicity would be a defining element that it would succeed or fail on. And so it has come to pass.

We liked:

In the areas where the Samsung Series 5 Chromebook's simplicity works well, the machine really benefits. The keyboard and the mouse work well, and the almost instant startup time is fantastic.

For people who don't want to mess around with operating systems, worrying about installing anti-virus software and having to deal with Window's crashes and quirks, then the simplicity of just opening up the Chromebook, signing into a Google account and then getting straight into browsing the internet is certainly attractive.

We disliked:

Unfortunately on many other aspects the simplicity of the Samsung Series 5 Chromebook works against it.

Its Intel Atom CPU and integrated graphics card just doesn't have enough horsepower to play back demanding videos with optimal spoothness, and while its ability to play media might not be its main selling point, when you're paying £350 to £400 you'd expect it to be a bit more competent.

Compatibility issues with some file types will no doubt be ironed out in future updates, but at the moment performance is limited, so early adopters should approach with caution.

Final verdict

It is very early days for both Chrome OS and the Chromebooks that run it. The Samsung Series 5 Chromebook gets enough of the basics right that we can see the potential of the new operating system.

However it is not the strong start we'd have hoped for. We can see the logic in keeping the hardware simple when it keeps the performance streamlined and costs down. However in this case the hardware is just a bit too weak for any tasks more strenuous than viewing a website, and for a price that rivals more powerful and more feature-rich laptops.

With a few choice upgrades and a lower price, Chromebooks could be a hit. But at the moment, on the evidence of the Samsung Series 5 Chromebook, they still have a way to go.

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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.