Samsung Chromebook Series 5 Review


The 12.1-inch (1280 x 800) display has a thin bezel housing a 1 megapixel camera. That 300-nit (matte!) display is even brighter than the one belonging to a $900 system we just reviewed. We have to agree with Darren’s first take here — the viewing angles are impressive, particularly for a machine of this price. We had no problem seeing the screen from the side, though predictably, you’ll find the picture gets progressively washed-out as you dip the screen forward. And, because of that brightness and matte finish, we were even able to view it in direct sunlight, as you can see in some of the shots in the gallery above. Hell, even standing above a the laptop at an odd angle, we were able to make out the screen outdoors.

The Chromebook concept that upgrades the Chrome browser to an operating system has significant ramifications if/when it becomes successful. I am currently reading Idea Man and according to Paul Allen, co-founder of Microsoft and author of the book, corporate sales of Office is huge:

The business division generates another 32 percent of revenues, primarily from corporate sales of Office.

Google is targeting businesses and educational institutions with its Chromebook with a starting price of just $28 and $20 per subscription, respectively. You can use Chromebooks to run Office Live and other Microsoft online services, but corporate sales of Office will most likely be mutually exclusive to Chromebook sales to corporations. Google is not only going head on against Windows, it is also attacking 32% of Microsoft’s revenues with its Chromebook initiative. Windows and Office make up almost all of Microsoft’s revenues.

Google’s Chromebook is part of a tectonic shift from desktop to cloud computing. I believe Chromebook and Apple’s iCloud will push computing towards a tipping point when cloud-based computing with be ushered in at the expense of the desktop, where Windows and Office currently dominates. Steve Jobs, in his keynote during WWDC 2011:

We’re going to demote the PC and the Mac to just be a device.

Apple has shifted its digital hub paradigm from desktop to cloud. Google in essence is doing the same. And Microsoft? If Microsoft can ruthlessly re-align its titanic ship like it did with Internet Explorer to obliterate Netscape Navigator, maybe.

Okay, enough of the big-picture stuff. Let’s get down to the nitty gritty on the Samsung Chromebook Series 5 and start with the bezel. Maybe the requirement for thin is more lax at Engadget, but I don’t think the bezel around the 13.3-inch LCD is all that thin. That being said I don’t even think the much ballyhooed Shuriken Display by LG Display has bezels that are that much thinner than what I’m looking at as I type this post. (I’m working on a 2009 unibody 17-inch MacBook Pro.)

I do appreciate the matte surface. Glare displays had a good run but I think it’s about time notebook manufacturers think more about the visual experience than the visual aesthetics.

Most of the notebooks that have been recently announced have a display brightness right around 300 nits, so the 300 nits on the 13.3-inch Samsung Chromebook Series 5 is nothing to get excited about. The matte surface is likely what allowed the Series 5 to be sunlight readable.

Despite what reads like exaggerated excitement, with wide viewing angles (horizontally but not vertically) it seems Samsung saw fit to equip its Chromebook with a solid display. By the way, the Samsung Series 5 Chromebooks can now be pre-ordered on Amazon.

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