Samsung’s Google Chromebook a low-cost laptop alternative

Looking for an affordable replacement for your laptop? The Samsung Google Chromebook might fit the bill — if you spend all of your time online.

It’s a Samsung netbook running Google’s Chrome operating system. Netbooks are often legacy-free, meaning they lack older technology-compatible ports and drives. Indeed, the Chromebook ($250) has no hard drive, optical drive or Ethernet and no VGA or DVI port.

Wait, no hard drive?

That’s right. The Chromebook is designed to be used while the user is online. Included with the purchase of a Chromebook are 12 coupons for in-flight Internet on airlines that use Gogo Wi-Fi.

Google’s operating system is designed to stay out of your way. Most of the time you are in Chrome, so the experience is a familiar one. Google takes care of operating system updates and virus-malware protection with automatic system updates that download every few weeks.

The OS lives on a 16-gigabyte flash drive that boots in about 10 seconds. Like other laptops, closing it puts it to sleep, and by the time you’ve opened the screen, the OS is awake and ready.

Users access and save all their documents to the cloud — specifically Google’s online offerings. Instead of loading up an Office suite, Chromebook users access Google Docs for word processing and spreadsheets. Obviously Web browsing and email are done online, as are Internet chatting and even storing your digital photos.

Google includes 100 gigabytes of online storage for two years.

You are limited with what tasks you can do when you’re not online. Google Docs has a pretty decent presence offline, which means you can create and edit documents that will sync the next time you connect to the Internet.

The OS also supports multiple users, so you can let your kids or a houseguest borrow it and know that if they log in with their own Google account, your documents and media are safe from snooping or accidental deletion.

So you need to be clear about what you want to accomplish with the Chromebook and if you’ll be able to be online when you need to do anything but write or edit Office documents.

The Chromebook is a nice piece of hardware. Samsung has done a great job of making a quality netbook while keeping the cost down. At $250, the Chromebook is a perfect second computer.

From across a room, it would be easy to mistake the Chromebook for a Macbook Air. Instead of the aluminum found on the Macbook Air, the Chromebook is plastic, but it feels very solid. The keyboard is Macbook-like with black keys protruding from a flat surface. The trackpad is large, and the entire surface is a button if you press down.

The ports include USB 2.0, USB 3.0, HDMI, SD card slot and a headphone-microphone combo jack. You can get VGA with an optional dongle.

Inside, you’ll find an 11.6-inch screen that won’t win any prizes for looks, but it gets the job done. The screen resolution is 1366 x 768 pixels, but the contrast is not too great. I would not want to edit photos on the Chromebook.

Networking is via Wi-Fi or Bluetooth, although a 3G version is available for $330. The Chromebook has a webcam for Google+ or Skype video chats.

It weighs 2.4 pounds and is measures 8.1 by 11.4 inches and is just 0.7 inches thick (or is it thin?).

Since the Chromebook doesn’t have a hard drive and uses an ARM processor, which is optimized for portable use, the battery will run for more than six hours between charges.

If you know the Chromebook’s limitations, and you’re confident you’ll be online the vast majority of the time, you’ll find a lot to like here.

More in Herald Business Journal

Stan Jones (left) father of Vice Chairwoman Teri Gobin, gets a handshake from Jared Parks while Herman Williams Sr. hugs Bonnie Juneau (right) after the Tulalip Tribes and Quil Ceda Creek Casino held a groundbreaking ceremony for the new Quil Ceda Creek Casino Hotel on Tuesday at the Tulalip Reservation. The casino hotel will be built on 16 acres of ancestral tribal land and will feature a main casino that will showcase as many as 1,500 slot machines. (Andy Bronson / The Herald)
Tulalips break ground on new Quil Ceda Creek Casino Hotel

A 150-room hotel was added to what is now a $140 million project in Tulalip.

Teddy, an English bulldog, models Zentek Clothing’s heat regulating dog jacket. (Ian Terry / The Herald)
Everett clothing company keeps your dog cool and stylish

Zentek uses space-age fabrics to moderate the temperature of pets and now humans.

Trudeau snubs Boeing, unveils plan to buy used Aussie jets

Trudeau will be assessing the impact fighter jet contracts have on his country’s economy.

Boeing raises dividend 20%, continues stock buyback program

The manufacturer said it has repurchased $9.2 billion worth of its shares this year.

Everett engineers learn lessons from Mexico City catastrophe

Structural scientists went to help after the September earthquake there and studied the damage.

Providence Hospital in Everett at sunset Monday night. Officials Providence St. Joseph Health Ascension Health reportedly are discussing a merger that would create a chain of hospitals, including Providence Regional Medical Center Everett, plus clinics and medical care centers in 26 states spanning both coasts. (Kevin Clark / The Daily Herald)
Merger would make Providence part of health care behemoth

Providence St. Joseph Health and Ascension Health are said to be talking. Swedish would also be affected.

Hospital companies merge as insurers encroach on their turf

An anticipated deal between Providence St. Joseph Health and Ascension is only the latest.

DaVita to sell off medical groups including The Everett Clinic

Another round of health care consolidation means The Everett Clinic could soon get new ownership.

Engine trouble hits Air New Zealand’s 787 Dreamliners

A Rolls-Royce engine was shut down and was afterward found to be seriously damaged.

Most Read