New Samsung Chromebook is a cheap, plastic MacBook

If you missed the new Series 5 Chromebook at Consumer Electronics Show 2012, there's a reason. Samsung practically hid the thing, during an event of otherwise big, big announcements from the South Korean electronics giant. Disappointment is my reaction to the new offering, which, regrettably doesn't temp me back to using a Chromebook.

I asked my colleague Tim Conneally, who got up close to the new Chromebook in this video, for his reaction. "My first impression: it looks like a plastic MacBook". Ah, yeah, hasn't Samsung been having problems with Apple, fending off accusations of imitating products. Judge for yourself, from the photo and link to Tim's video. Doesn't the new Series 5 Chromebook resemble MacBook but donned in plastic?

Advertisement

But there's something more important than missing metal. My bigger concern is performance, to which Tim dismally responded: "The difference in handling is imperceptible". The specs are largely unchanged from the original. System memory is still 2GB and the processor is less crappy. Not good, just not as bad. Samsung is unleashing an unworthy successor and one that makes Chromebook less appealing than the original -- seeing as v1 isn't enough and the new one isn't much more than a new MacBook-like enclosure and speedier processor. Specs are otherwise the same, or seem to be based on the little info released by Samsung.

A Real Under-performer

For two months last summer, I used a Samsung Series 5 Chromebook as my primary PC in the first weeks and as my only one later on. I found the overall cloud experience to be refreshing, no liberating, but Chromebook grated on me the longer I used it. The problem: Performance. On the software side, Google continually updates Chrome OS, which got better with each of the many updates. But the hardware is steadfast. At the least, Chromebook needs 4GB of memory. But really the processor -- and, more importantly, the graphics chip -- simply aren't good enough.

Living in the cloud doesn't free Chromebook from daily computing demands. If anything there are more, because so much activity is conducted online and so many services require Adobe Flash, which still seems wonky to me on Chrome OS -- that's without the demands placed on CPU, GPU and Net bandwidth.

In early October, when writing about giving up Chromebook, I didn't fuss much over what was for me sluggish performance. I'm a power user and, presumably, atypical of the type of person most likely to use a system running Chrome OS. But after getting back to a real computer, my feelings about performance lag are more pronounced.

Currently, I'm using the Lenovo ThinkPad T420s with: 2.5GHz Intel Core i5 processor (with 3MB L3 cache); 14-inch matte screen (with 1600 x 900 resolution); 160GB Intel sold-state drive; 4GB of DDR3 memory (1333MHz); DVD burner; WebCam; Ethernet; WiFi N, memory card reader; 3 USB ports, one each HDMI and VGA port; and Windows 7 Ultimate 64 bit. The original Chromebook -- and, sadly its successor -- isn't in the same league. Chrome OS changed my computing habits, so I still largely do everything in the browser, but there's real performance on ThinkPad T420s and none of the waiting common with the Samsung Series 5.

My Chromebook config: 12.1-inch LED display with 1280 x 800 resolution and 16:10 aspect ratio; 1.66GHz Intel Atom N570 processor; 2GB DDR3 memory (not expandable); 16GB solid-state storage; integrated NM10 graphics; ALC272 integrated audio; stereo speakers (which in my tests deliver surprisingly rich sound for the class of machine); internal microphone; 1-megapixel webcam; WiFi N; Verizon 3G (on higher-end model); headphone/Mic jack; two USB ports; 4-in-1 memory card reader (SD / SDHC / SDXC / MMC); and 6-cell battery (with stated life of 8.5 hours).

Specs are sketchy, but Samsung claims the new Chromebook has 3X performance from the dual-core Celeron processor, which granted is a step up from the single-core Atom processor on v1. But Tim's assessment isn't encouraging, since he has Samsung's original Chromebook and has experience enough for spot comparison.

There's no Samsung press release I could find about the new Chromebook, nor does Samsung's Flickr account -- loaded with photos of everything else. There's plenty on Samsung's Series 9 ultrabook, which design and features are jaw-dropping. As for Series 5 Chromebook, it's a plastic MacBook with few of the benefits.

43 Responses to New Samsung Chromebook is a cheap, plastic MacBook

  1. woe says:

    You are the only person that I know that cares about Chromebooks.  Much like many other Google products its DOA.

  2. Anonymous says:

    These boots can be bought from online as well as an offline store. Hogan Shoes  However before you make a purchase you should check out the authenticity of the store. Hogan Scarpe you need to check that the one you are buying are made of sheepskin or not.  Franklin Marshall Sale The sole of the discount uggs australia for women Bailey Button boots must have a logo embedded on it. Get an original one with proper logo and with original sheepskin! Franklin Marshall Store  Grab one pair of UGG Bailey Button now!

  3. HowsTheHope says:

    I like my wheezer CR-48, but would not replace it for over 200 bucks with another Chromebook.

  4. Anonymous says:

    So what... Anything good should be copied and improve upon, and you can't discredit Samsung for trying.

    What's good for the goose is good for the gander.  

    • Level380 says:

      Its a strange world.... Apple copies of someone else and thats aok..... Someone copies of apple and its oh no can't do that!

  5. James Eagle says:

    Why would they put expensive hardware in it when its clearly just for browsing the internet. The OS is tiny you cant install games etc. It doesn't need faster hardware.

    • Jesse says:

      Almost every day chrome gets new apis that allow developers to create better games, and more hardware intensive web apps (see: WebGL, Web Workers, WebCL, webrtc etc.) Since chromeOS will be the first to support these technologies, it would be great for the hardware to be ready for them.

  6. Level380 says:

    Its strange.... When the plastic macbook had been released, they got great reviews and it was the best thing since sliced bread. But now cause it doesn't have a apple logo on it, its just a cheap plastic notebook.. 

    What a strange one sided slanted view the world has! 

  7. Anonymous says:

    Yeah because I can make a judgement from that photo above.

  8. Anonymous says:

      The good thing about Chrome OS is that the performance of your computer should improve over time with software updates, unlike windows which for me always seems to bog down.  So even if it is underpowered it should improve. 

    Would it handle having 20 tabs open?  I regularly have that many open

    • Anonymous says:

      The bad thing about Chrome Os is that the performance of your computer doesn't improve over time with software updates. I've been using a Cr-48 for the past year, and while I like it, apart from stability improvements, Chrome OS is no faster now than it was a year ago. Worse, a year into this, they are still issuing buggy software updates.

      HowsThehope: I like my wheezy Cr-48, but I wouldn't pay for a Chromebook unless there is a significant performance boost. However, I disagree with the author about memory requirements: there is no reason a well-designed OS built on a Linux kernel should require more than 2gb of RAM. I'm currently typing from an Acer netbook with Ubuntu 10.04 and since I expanded it to 2gb a year ago, it has never, ever used cache, no matter how many tabs open in the browser, and no matter how many other programs are running. I suppose I could force it to page if I tried, but in practical terms, lack of memory has never been an issue.James Eagle: While less demanding than Windows or OS X, Chrome OS is still not particularly efficient, and processor speed makes a significant performance difference, even in "just" web browsing. Anything with Flash taxes the Atom processor, which is barely adequate. Whether the Celeron in the new Samsung provides enough of a kick to make a Chromebook worth my money remains and open question until we know more.From my perspective, where light weight, long battery life, and universal connectivity are important, the Chromebook hardware design is just about perfect. Realistically, doing almost everything through the browser meets most of my needs, and with more speed, I can imagine buying a Chromebook this year or next. But, if the speed doesn't come, it's going to be an Ultrabook running Linux or a Macbook Air — which remains the gold standard for computers in this niche. And, re plastic, I have dropped my Cr-48 a few times, and that it's still functioning is a tribute to the powers of JB Weld epoxy. Given a choice, I'll take an alloy case any day.

      • Anonymous says:

        Thanks for the reply.  So how many browser windows can the cr48 handle before it slows? 

        I also think that the celeron and 2gb ram should be enough but it is disappointing that google isn't pushing out software updates to make the OS more efficient.  In other words, there is potential for this OS to handle 20 tabs, flash, etc, but only if the OS is super efficient.  And it doesn't sound like Google is pushing out the types of updates that I thought they would. 

        The point of the chromebook SHOULD be to have very fast, cloud based web performance with minimal hardware (and thus very cheap).  There is a ton of potential but if the software is so bad that it needs mid-range hardware to run well, then there really isn't any point in the OS at all.  

      • Anonymous says:

        Anonymuss: The point of the chromebook SHOULD be to have very fast, cloud based web performance with minimal hardware (and thus very cheap).  There is a ton of potential but if the software is so bad that it needs mid-range hardware to run well, then there really isn't any point in the OS at all.

        I posted this on Chromebook Central a few hours ago:

        [On my Ubuntu netbook]... I just loaded up Chrome (7 tabs, including Google Groups, Gmail, and G+, as well as a couple of really big web pages), 2 PDFs, 2 spreadsheets (Open Office), a word document (Open Office), an image in gimp, system monitor, and Ubuntu Tweak. System monitor shows 0 bytes of cache used, and only 1.4gb (70%) of RAM in use. This, after running for at least a week since its last reboot.

        The Cr-48 has occasionally run out of memory with fewer than 10 tabs open, and garbage collection could be better; you need to reboot to get all of it back. Don't get me wrong, I really like my Chromebook, but Chrome OS is a continuing frustration, and after more than a year in the wild, it should be better than it is.

      • Anonymous says:

        Anonymuss: The point of the chromebook SHOULD be to have very fast, cloud based web performance with minimal hardware (and thus very cheap).  There is a ton of potential but if the software is so bad that it needs mid-range hardware to run well, then there really isn't any point in the OS at all.

        I posted this on Chromebook Central a few hours ago:

        [On my Ubuntu netbook]... I just loaded up Chrome (7 tabs, including Google Groups, Gmail, and G+, as well as a couple of really big web pages), 2 PDFs, 2 spreadsheets (Open Office), a word document (Open Office), an image in gimp, system monitor, and Ubuntu Tweak. System monitor shows 0 bytes of cache used, and only 1.4gb (70%) of RAM in use. This, after running for at least a week since its last reboot.

        The Cr-48 has occasionally run out of memory with fewer than 10 tabs open, and garbage collection could be better; you need to reboot to get all of it back. Don't get me wrong, I really like my Chromebook, but Chrome OS is a continuing frustration, and after more than a year in the wild, it should be better than it is.

      • Anonymous says:

        Anonymuss: The point of the chromebook SHOULD be to have very fast, cloud based web performance with minimal hardware (and thus very cheap).  There is a ton of potential but if the software is so bad that it needs mid-range hardware to run well, then there really isn't any point in the OS at all.

        I posted this on Chromebook Central a few hours ago:

        [On my Ubuntu netbook]... I just loaded up Chrome (7 tabs, including Google Groups, Gmail, and G+, as well as a couple of really big web pages), 2 PDFs, 2 spreadsheets (Open Office), a word document (Open Office), an image in gimp, system monitor, and Ubuntu Tweak. System monitor shows 0 bytes of cache used, and only 1.4gb (70%) of RAM in use. This, after running for at least a week since its last reboot.

        The Cr-48 has occasionally run out of memory with fewer than 10 tabs open, and garbage collection could be better; you need to reboot to get all of it back. Don't get me wrong, I really like my Chromebook, but Chrome OS is a continuing frustration, and after more than a year in the wild, it should be better than it is.

  9. davidtb says:

    I would like to see Chrome on my next laptop, but on a chip where they have that pretty useless Linux super fast boot program of low functionality. (?)

  10. TheCyberKnight says:

    Chromebooks possible success time slot has already passed.
    It is a doomed idea with bad hardware and an inferior OS.
    Move on. Nothing to see here.

    • Adam Smarthers says:

      Rash at best Mr. Knight.  Many great ideas have a poor start.  I like the idea here, admit there are some doubts and am hopeful that it might turn into something.  Nothing more, nothing less.  Why is it that you feel the need to be so negative?  How does it effect your life if these succeed or not?  I get the feeling that you feel you need to convince everyone here of your points.  Have an opinion even share that opinion, but don't make ridiculous claims about products/companies in such an early stage.  If anything you should root for them because the more succesful they are the less expensive your "perfect" windows 8 will be.

  11. Anonymous says:

    is there one person writing all these chromebook reviews? cause, you know, they all sound like "nerdboy".

    would i own a chromebook? no. but i did get one for my mom. mom had a dell latitude d630 that was a hand me down so she could browse the web. i replaced it with a chromebook cause, and pay attention nerdboy, mom don't do "more". she don't know what it is and she don't care. if you try to explain "more"  her eyes will gloss over.

    so mom has a computer that has no virus's, has no annual virus cost, has no os update cost, has automatic updates and has no tech support calls (to me). and mom hasn't missed a beat. facebook, email and browsing. no "more" needed. there's a down side to this? silly question. nerdboy will now come and tell me all about the "more". ad nauseum. just once i'd like to read a review about a chromebook by someone who isn't nerdboy.

    • Joe Wilcox says:

      My mom got one, too. 
      http://betanews.com/2011/07/30/my-mother-is-getting-a-chromebook/

      All the same benefits you described. 

      • Anonymous says:

        good on ya Joe. But how about an article on who Chromebooks are good for? We've all read enough articles and comments to know how nerdboy's feel about it. There's a lot of people out there for whom it would be, if not perfect, at least a food fit.

      • @sportmac:disqus I think you're being a bit unfair to Joe here - he's pretty clear in his "goodbye to Chromebook" post that for some people it's a good fit. It's just not such a good fit for him, and given that it was his main (if not only) computer for several months, I don't think you can say he doesn't get the concept. 
        FWIW, I did the same "live with a Chromebook-only for a month" trial and, unlike Joe, I'm still using mine - not all the time, as I jump between Chromebook, a MacBook Pro, and an iPad depending on what I need to do. Could I *only* use a Chromebook? Yes, but as I found, doing some of the stuff that's easy on a full laptop (or tablet) means jumping through hoops on the Chromebook. Like all things, it's a trade off.

      • Anonymous says:

        Ian,
        didn't mean to be unfair to Joe. He does say it's not for him. My post was about how all these reviews seem to end up the same. A nerd's view of the Chromebook. Not that I disagree, being a nerd. Where I take issue is that rarely does one read about what the Chromebook is good for and for whom it's a good fit. Yes, we nerdboy's have issues with it. Doesn't mean it's not a good fit for others. My mom is very happy, but then again, her needs and the Chromebook fit very well. 
        Was more a general rant than an attack on Joe. Sorry Joe, if it came across that way. You're a good Joe, so to speak. :)

  12. Anonymous says:

    Why not have this blog turn into a designers blog Joe?

    Because that is all you talk about: A looks like B.

    Are you not aware that there is not a single laptop based OS that is remotely similar to how the Chrome OS powered laptops are?

    This is a "dumb" terminal in laptop form. If you are old enough, you would remember the terms like "dumb" terminal during the mainframe days.

    Unlike Apple's "personal computer OS", this is a network centric OS.

    It's power comes from the cloud, not the software that resides inside the physical laptop.

    • TheCyberKnight says:

      Most of us do understand the point here.
      Being a network centric OS is both an advantage and a weakness. You do need, at one time at least, network access to install software or refresh some parts of the OS. Yes, this application model makes it far more difficult for malware to cause problems. But, as was said before, the possible success time slot for this already passed away. New products will make Chromebooks appear expensive, inferior, underperformant and limited.

      For example, a Windows 8 device running exclusively the Metro platform (no Desktop mode) will smoke a Chromebook, with as much resilience to malware and similar reliability. And yes, I would get this for my mother.

      • Anonymous says:

        "You will probably hate to know that a Windows 8 device running exclusively the Metro platform (no Desktop mode) will smoke a Chromebook"

        so, we go on speculation? You have one of these handy that you can say this is a fact? An awful lot of people sure are positive about everything Metro will do.

        And you know about it's resilience how exactly? Just curious. 

      • TheCyberKnight says:

        @sportmac:disqus 
        As a matter of fact, I do have Windows 8 running for months now on a dual core 1GHz x86 CPU tablet and it ends up being abnormaly fast considering the low hardware (which, by the way, is less powerful than the Chrombook being discussed here).
        As for the resiliency topic, if you have any understanding of the WinRT (aka Metro) subsystem architecture, you probably already know its design makes it immune to the traditional malware vectors.
        For the sake of the discussion, I remind you that I am debating about the Metro mode only, not the "Desktop" mode, which I hope will actually be totally optional.

      • Anonymous says:

        well, isn't that dandy. you mind explaining to us where you got this wonder tablet and how you came by all this marvelous experience the rest of the world has been denied or we just going on your word? 'cause, you know, this being the web and all, you simply saying so don't amount to much.

        now, i'm not saying it's not true, all i'm saying is you being a cult of softie member in good standing who is throwing things out your backend is much more likely, this being the web and all.

      • TheCyberKnight says:

         @sportmac:disqus 
        Well, reading your last comment, it does seem this is the web, this wonderful place where an ecosystem of human beings hide behind the great digital shield.
        If you don't already know that you can get Windows 8 and that there are x86 tablets with AMD C-50 APU powering them, you probably should refrain to add insipid comments on these topics.
        You can also go forward, install the software and educate yourself about the WinRT runtime. Then, I would consider that your "cult of softie" moniker would somewhat be more credible.
        As a free hint, I advise you that a new version of Windows 8 will be available at the end of February. It is a free dowload and, of course, it is a beta version. Here's your chance.

      • Anonymous says:

        well obviously i don't know, so, here's your chance. tell us where we mortal beings can pick one up. i can read about when i can pick one up, sometime in the future, but find nothing on getting my dirty little paws on one now.
        so, enlighten us. and i surely hope i don't have to be some beta tester to do it. after all, we are talking about an existing product here with the chromebook. kinda the point ya know, me wondering how you came by all those "facts" of which you speak.

      • Anonymous says:

        still waiting. love to get my hands on one so i too can know these facts of which you speak. c'mon, help us out here. who's the manufacturer? what's the model name? where can we pick one up?

      • TheCyberKnight says:

        @sportmac:disqus 
        You can stop being an a**hole now. Windows 8 is still in Developer Preview form and will hit Beta end of next month. You already know about this.
        Get everything here: http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/windows/apps/br229516
        To educate yourself about WinRT, go here:
        http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/windows/apps/br211377 
        Now, for the device, use whatever you want. For a real taste of the Metro only mode, you should get a touch screen equipped computer.
        If you want a tablet, you're probably smart enough to use Google or Bing to find one.
        You have everything you need now.

      • Anonymous says:

        oh dear me! an a**hole! what a retort! SNAP! well done laddie, well done indeed. truly, yours is a singular wit.

        now, back to the topic at hand:

        "If you don't already know that you can get Windows 8 and that there are x86 tablets with AMD C-50 APU powering them, you probably should refrain to add insipid comments on these topics."

        WHERE can i get this tablet of which you speak? i want to test your stated fact that a windows 8 device will totally smoke a chromebook. you say there are x86 tablets powering windows 8. where? are there windows 8 devices or not?

        or maybe your english isn't so good and you mean i can get a BETA and put it on a machine. no? is that what you mean? well, not interested. there's all kinds of things beta's can often do that don't make it to final versions. 

        btw, i don't think you mean insipid. if you do then i like totally miss what you're trying to say. like, totally.

  13. Nicolas Locatelli says:

    The original Samsung Series 5 had a dual-core atom. Not a single-core.

  14. Garrett Hennigan says:

    Where did you learn how to write?  One generally works up to a conclusion after laying out the details.  You seem to go about this backwards.  Do you have any numbers to back up your claims?

    • Timothy J. Holloway says:

      "Where did you learn how to write?" I guess you think doing things by the rules makes more sense, huh?

      I was just about to comment that at last someone has said what needs to be said in a proper publication.

      I'm using a Samsung Chromebook now. It sucks, speedwise. I want to shoot myself in the head it's so frustratingly slow but I don't because even though I pretty much live on the Internet, I know that there's still hope if I just slog through the shitty performance of the Internet, especially Google Docs and Google News.

      And by the way, I have a BA in Writing from the University of Victoria here in BC. I don't find anything wrong with this man's writing, but I can easily find shortcomings in average, widely accepted stuff written in essay form. Or just about any IT "news" article where writers jabber on and on and on, never clarifying or giving appropriate details. That's one of the big reasons I don't want to try to be a journalist: I'd have to lower my standards too much to get such a piss-poor job done.

  15. Anonymous says:

    I love the liberating concept of Chromebook. However, myself and a few others have given Google the opportunity to hear our inputs through surveys and posts in the Chromebook forums with very little positive response. Instead the concerns and complaints are met with resistance and verbal slights from mostly users who received the free Cr48 computers as a beta-tester or developer. They don't feel the pain of spending $400.00 on something that runs awfully slow and does a horrible job web surfing. This is supposed to be a webcentric cloud-terrific device and it has been nothing but pure frustration when things just don't work as well as they should. On a positive note, the boot-up sequence is fantastic and the battery life is pretty decent at 8 hours. Though I hardly calls those features unique anymore as netbooks are now exceeding the 8 hour battery life window and tablets with keyboards like the new Asus Transformer Prime are providing battery life to the high teens. All the other features such as always being up-to-date, no viruses, cloud backup are great too, however those "unique" features are no longer unique to Chromebooks.

    Understandably Chromebooks really don't need a hardcore quad processor, etc. because it's not a gaming computer and it never will be one. If you ever tried playing Chrome's version of Cordy on a Chromebook, you will want to kill people. Chromebook is good for playing games that require very little processing power and even playing simple games like Angry Birds for Chrome will be a dismal and frustrating experience. I don't expect to play Crysis or any of the many great online multi-player games on a Chromebook, but I would expect to be able to play games made for Chrome on a Chromebook. Somehow, it just doesn't seem like Google is taking Chromebook serious enough, especially with the new onslaught of Ultrabooks that will have the capability and usability that Chromebooks seem to lack. The portability of Chromebooks is great and I like the Google account integration (though I have this on my PC too). Not until we see Chromebooks actually provide some decent webcentric performance and some unique features that can't be found on tablets, MacBooks or the new Ultrabooks, then Chromebooks are doomed to fail again. Unfortunately nobody at Google seems to care that they pushed out half-baked expensive netbook that can barely browse the Internet. When Chromebooks can do what the Chrome browser can do on an Ultrabook, there might be hope; that hope now seems to fade with the new iteration of Chromebooks.

    I'm sorely disappointed at Google's and the manufacturer's newer efforts.

  16. H C says:

    honestly, all Samsung Chromebooks kinda suck.
    no replaceable RAM or SSD and what's with mini-vga?

    the Acer is the only Chromebook worth getting.
    it's fantastic for what it is, and only what it is.

    if you're missing programs or services from Windows, then you're not doing your research online.

  17. michael adamo says:

    I have one and I LOVE IT!! Its a small netbook that doesnt need tune up software or antivirus. Its very solid and I use it everymorning when I wake up. I just flip the lid, sign in and pandora internet radio starts playing. All withing a minute.

  18. Luciano Deriu says:

    The title of this "review" has no meaning. A MacBook and Chromebook at the hardware, OS, price and even the intended uses are worlds apart. So you're a douche.

    I have a MacBook but I don't have a chromebook because it's not for me. However i like the idea and it makes complete sense.

    As far as the hardware in a Chromebook goes... it's fine. However if you run Flash based apps on it then yeah its gonna struggle but then so does my MacBook but that doesn't make the Chromebook or MacBook are bad, it just means Flash is a bit shite.

  19. cappy anderson says:

    I ordered a Chrome book today.  I can't wait so I can say what I think about it & call people a douche bag or a--hole!  I already have an idouche 1 & an itouch I actually like.  I will say-what's so great about a Mac Book Air.   Macbooks are overated & over priced.

  20. Yahoo! says:

    It looks like a smart idea; having a laptop for only web surfing and not getting skype and msn and other popups popping up when you turn on the computer. But seriously, even though Macbooks work pretty well and are fast, dont say everything but it is a douche and isnt up to the match.

© 1998-2020 BetaNews, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Privacy Policy - Cookie Policy.