Product Type: Samsung Netbook
Newest Review: ... 10 seconds. When browsing the internet I never have any issues with connectivity or lag on loading pages. I have yet to see any type of err... more
Chromebook - a cheap, portable and modern laptop option
Samsung Series 3 Chromebook XE303C12
Member Name: julwhite
Samsung Series 3 Chromebook XE303C12
Advantages: Fast, efficient, well-integrated with Chrome and very good value for money
Disadvantages: Can't display some media, doesn't have Windows so can't download software
I purchased this Chromebook as I wanted a lightweight laptop which I could use when travelling and I prefer to use as near to a full-sized keyboard as possible, so a tablet was out of the question. Although I think the MacBook Air computers are superb, they are too expensive for my own needs.
When I opened the box I noticed that there was a small instruction manual, and also a Google sticker for those that want to put it on the laptop. I plugged it straight in, noting positively that the power lead was reasonably long, and didn't need any instructions as I found it very intuitive. It really is a matter of turning it on, connecting it to wi-fi and Google, and that's it, ready to go.
Since purchasing this Chromebook, I have been very pleased with it. Essentially this computer is an extension to the Chrome browser, so there isn't Windows on it, and there isn't the option to install computer software onto it, just apps. For those that need certain software, such as Office for example, this could be a problem, but for my purposes it was fine.
I primarily use my Chromebook for writing, and I have a gmail account which links into Google Drive. Although no expert, what I've found is that when I want to write a document I can easily open a Google word processor tab in Chrome and start typing. If I'm off-line, it'll save it on the computer until I'm on-line, and when I'm on-line, it'll back it up safely to Google Drive. It's seamless, and means I can work on the move both safe in the knowledge I don't need an Internet connection, but also that my work is safe.
The other really useful feature for me is that the computer turns straight on. With my Windows laptop it'll take a good 15 or 20 seconds before Windows finishes the restart process, whereas this Chromebook quotes a time of around 6 seconds. So far from my usage, it's even quicker than that, just a couple of seconds.
Weight wise this computer is ideal, it's a very light and portable computer to carry around. The battery length is also excellent, I used it for seven hours without needing to recharge it, and this is great for my own needs, as I would never usually be that far away from a power point. It isn't though possible just to switch batteries, as the Chromebook would have to be unscrewed, which is a slight shame. For those needing to replace a battery however, it looks easy enough (although I haven't done it yet).
The Chromebook inevitably relies on the Chrome browser, and this is what I've used for a few years anyway, so this was very convenient for me. It's also very good for those with gmail and Google accounts, again such as myself, as the integration is very good. This also means that it's easy for Google to update the software on the Chromebook, and the computers automatically upgrades every couple of weeks or so, so it's easy to stay on top of security and to receive all the latest updates. As with everything else on this product, I find it all very seamless and easy to understand.
I also remembered when using this product that Google Chrome remembers my browser settings wherever I'm signed in. So I was pleased that when I opened up my new Chromebook, it knew all of the passwords to my favourite web-sites, it had my history, bookmarks and predictive typing of web-sites I visit. Although some might not like this integration for security or privacy reasons, I found it great not having to remember all my various passwords. It showed again though, for those that want it, the integration of Chrome is excellent.
It's still not entirely clear to me what apps will work on the Chromebook and what won't. There are some which I just use from the browser, such as Evernote, which lets me type up new notes when off-line, although doesn't yet have off-line downloads of notes. There are some games which can be installed, but equally there are some apps which I can get on my Android phone, such as Overdrive (useful for getting free books from UK public libraries) which don't work on the Chromebook. Definitely check in advance if it's important that a particular app works though.
The screen isn't necessarily the best, it's not such a smooth screen as my phone or laptop, but it's perfectly readable and I can control the brightness easily. The screen size is 11.6 inches which is a good compromise for me between a large screen which adds weight to the laptop, and also such a small screen I can hardly see it.
I was though very impressed with the key-board, which is full size. This makes it, for me, very easy to type on and I find I can make clear contact with the keys which depress easily and which cope with my typing speed. I find the keyboard comfortable to type for a longer period of time, and I consider this to be a big advantage. I found the tracking pad and mouse buttons to be a bit clunkier than what I'm used to, but that's probably because I'm used to my larger laptop, and they're still perfectly easy to use.
I bought my Chromebook in PC World, which I wouldn't normally do because I find that the service can be a bit hit and miss, but it was 224 pounds which at the time was the same price as Amazon. It's currently a few pounds cheaper on Amazon, and there are probably some deals that can be found, but the price doesn't seem to deviate much from the recommended price of 229 pounds.
One advantage of shopping in PC World, and I think some other retailers, is that a Google Chromebook specialist may be there to help. I noticed on the web-site there was a list of where these stores are. I had a demonstration a few weeks ago from a member of Google staff who was really friendly and engaging with the product, showing me how it worked, checking what apps worked, and offering advice. If you're not sure whether it's of use, and you can get to a store with a Google staff member, this may really help you decide whether it's a product for you.
With regards to some technical specifications, some of which I've had to take from the box as I'm entirely unsure of what's inside! It comes with 2 GB of RAM, a 16 GB hard drive, a 1.7 GHz processor, weighs well under 2 kilogrammes ad has an 11.6 inch screen. There is also an HDMI port so you can display the screen onto a large TV, and also a USB 2 and USB 3 port.
Whether this Chromebook will be of interest depends very much on what you would to use it for. It can't have software installed on it, it doesn't have Windows, it can struggle to play some file formats and it doesn't have a very large hard drive. But for those people who work so much in the cloud, such as myself, this is an ideal product and I'd say it's a superb tool for writers, students or professionals who need to write lots of documents and access the Internet. Overall, I'm very pleased with the product and feel the price it costs is very reasonable.
Summary: For those who work in the cloud, or who write on the move, this is a product to consider