Samsung Series 3 XE303C12-A01US Chromebook Review

And for those purposes, this device is fantastic. Absolutely fantastic. Before I give you the insights on what there is to like and what there isn’t to like about the hardware and software on the Samsung Chromebook, let’s have some tech specs.

  • OS: Google Chrome OS
  • Processor: Samsung Exynos 5 1.7GHz Dual Core ARM CPU
  • Memory: 2GB DDR3L RAM
  • Display: 11.6″ 1366×768

Performance – well, I don’t know. I really don’t. The internet (using the 5GHz band on my Netgear WNDR3700 dual band N600 router) speedtested very inconsistently. My desktops and my Lenovo laptop had faster speedtests. But getting ~40Mbps instead of the 50-60Mbps I’m used to my Comcast internet connection aren’t a deal breaker.

The dual core ARM CPU in this was meant for a tablet and not a desktop computer. And that’s painfully obvious when scrolling quickly on a page that’s image and JavaScript-heavy and have a bunch of other tabs open… it does lag. And don’t try to play Pandora while multi-tasking with multiple tabs because the audio gets re-re-re-re-re-ally cho-op-op-oppy. Speaking of, music the built in speakers are terrible – worse than the speakers in my smartphone. But when attached to my Bose Companion 2 Series II speakers via the jack on the Samsung Series 3 Chromebook, the audio sounded fine. If you can tell the difference between good speakers and lousy sound quality you need to stop reading this review, and go buy a real laptop.

YouTube in 1080P is fine, even though it’s not as smooth as I’m used to on my Core i7 laptop or my AMD FX-8350 desktop. But do you really expect a $250 portable computer to play stressful multi-media stuff without stutter? Nope. Am I secretly using this review to brag about my other awesome computers? Yep. Moving on…

Battery life is fine, as long as you don’t try to stream music (while Pandora didn’t work, Grooveshark worked alright) or videos (See the above paragraph regarding YouTube) battery life meets their 6-hour claim. But try to do those things, and you’re going to end with between one and three hours.

This Samsung Chromebook looks fine. It’s a blatant imitation of a MacBook Air but rather than using nice materials Samsung went cheap here. It’s completely justifiable since a MacBook Air will set you back $1000 more than this Chromebook, but I would like to not feel like my computer is going to break in half if I hold it in one hand, like the Samsung Series 3 Chromebook does.

The keyboard is better than I expected on this. It’s full size, with some tweaks. There is no Windows key (obviously). Instead, Google chose to elongate the Alt key. The Delete key (for you ignorant Mac users, the Delete key on a PC keyboard deletes the item in front of the cursor position rather than the one behind it like the Backspace button on a PC keyboard does) has been replaced with the power button… as a frequent user of this Delete key I’ve ended up hitting the power button rather than deleting something. There is also no Caps Lack key; instead there is a Search button. Think about last time you used the Caps Lock key though… Weeks? Months? Have you ever even used it? So this is no big loss.

As far as ports go, this Chromebook has more than necessary. In addition to the DC jack and the above-mentioned headphones port, there’s an HDMI, a USB 2.0, and a USB 3.0. For those of you that are going to “hack” this please be aware you can’t boot from the blue USB 3.0 port – you’ll have to do that from the black USB 2.0 port. I tried a Microsoft wireless mouse and it detected the USB device immediately with no driver installation required. That makes sense, given that Chrome OS is really Linux. There is also an SD card slot, which, for the target users of this Chromebook it’s a plus.

Pages: 1 2 3 4