Samsung Series 5 550 Chromebook – A real “paperweight” ?

9/26/2012 8:57:09 AM

We were disappointed by the first Chromebook - a laptop concept that operates entirely in the cloud. It was slow, clunky and Chrome OS was too limited to be practical. Without a net connection it was a paperweight. Google has now revised the OS and incorporated new hardware.

Description: Laptop Samsung Series 5 550 Chromebook

Externally, little’s changed. A strange key layout ditches the Fn buttons and replaces Caps Lock with a Google key. Short-travel keys have stiff springs that slow typing, while the short spacebar is frustrating and gesture support is lacking. Two-fingered scrolling is possible, but not pinch-to-zoom or swiping.

The 12.1in screen is average. It's non-reflective, with reasonable brightness and contrast, but viewing angles are poor, with the colours shifting as you tilt your head.

One USB port lives on each side, and there’s an SD X C reader to the right. On the left is a headset jack, Ethernet and Display Port. The latter is an odd choice - you’ll need an adaptor for HDMI, DVI or VGA.

Gone is the puny Intel Atom processor, here replaced by a dual-core Celeron. The RAM allocation has doubled to 4GB, but there's the same low-capacity 16GB SSD.

Google Drive means limited storage is now less of an issue, with 5GB free or 25GB for $30 per year. You can also add an SD card or USB drive.

The Chromebook felt sprightly running 10 browser tabs. It was also fast to boot and resumed from standby in a few seconds.

Chrome OS has changed, with a new desktop joining the browser window. It'll feel more familiar to Windows PC users, especially when launching apps. Some are pinned to the bottom; the rest are available through a Rubik's cube icon.

Offline apps help address the unconnected ordeal. These include Google Docs, Gmail, Calendar and Drive, plus Angry Birds.

Description: Laptop Samsung Series 5 550 Chromebook

Offline you can view, but not edit, local files, and Chrome OS supports most popular file formats. Edit may be too strong a word, though, as you can only crop, rotate and adjust the brightness of images.

The non-removable battery lasted around six hours in our tests - a working day that mixed email, cruising websites, creating documents and watching video.


Updates have made Chrome OS more usable, but the offline mode is limited and the file manager desperately needs work. Samsung’s Series 5 is also too expensive at $593; closer to $312, we'd be more interested.


Price: $593 inc VAT (8GB)


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1.3GHz Intel Celeron 867, dual-core; Google Chrome OS; 4GB DDR3 1,333MHz RAM; 16GB SSD;12.1in (1280 x 800) matt LCD; Intel HD Graphics; 802.11b/g/n; gigabit Ethernet; 2 x USB 2.0; Display Port++; Kensington lock sot; SDXC slot; stereo speakers; IMp webcam; 40W adaptor; 51Wh lithium-ion, non-removable battery; 292 x 217 x 21 – 31 mm; 1.39 kg

PC Advisor Gold

Build: 6/10

Features: 4/10

Performance: 6/10

Value: 6/10


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