June 13, 2012
- Lightweight, attractive design
- Comfortable keyboard
- Improved Google Chrome OS interface
- Runs hot
- No 4G/LTE cellular support
- Internet connection is a must for full experience
The Samsung Series 5 550 Chromebook laptop provides a cloud-based computing experience from within a traditionally-designed laptop. It sports an improved Google Chrome OS interface, 3G-cellular connectivity, a comfortable keyboard and a good-quality display. Not without its downsides, however, as it runs quite hot and the need for an Internet connection.
Cloud computing is a concept that has really started to take off over the past year because of the portability that it provides. With cloud computing, you can have access to all of your e-mails, documents and other files from any Internet-connected computer. The Samsung Series 5 550 takes full advantage of this through the Google Chrome operating system, which is completely cloud-based.
The design of the Series 5 550 looks pretty much like any other notebook on the market. It has an angular design and a body made of silver plastic. It measures 11.5 x 8.5 x 0.8-inches (wdh) and weighs just over 3-pounds, so it's not quite an ultrabook laptop in terms of size and weight, but it's not too far off either.
The island-style keyboard is well-designed and provides an overall comfortable experience. The keys are well-sized and spaced and provide good feedback. The keyboard isn't backlit, but for a $500 price tag, we aren't surprised. The touchpad is very large and offers more than enough room for navigation. It is a clickpad, so there's no physical click buttons anywhere. One gripe is the lack of multitouch gesture support, which is a fairly sizable omission if you ask us.
Samsung includes a 12.1-inch display with a native resolution of 1280 x 800-pixels, which is a standard size when compared to other notebooks. We found the display's quality to be very non-standard in a good way, however. It was very bright and displayed colors with good accuracy and vividness. The display also has a matte finish which helps to reduce glare from light.
One side note worth mentioning is the temperature after only an hour or so of casual use. The bottom of the laptop near the display's hinge gets rather hot to the point of being uncomfortable. This was surprising as the operating system is so lightweight in terms of performance.
The Google Chrome OS (version 19) comes pre-loaded on the Series 5 notebook. The new desktop interface is much more intuitive and not just a browser window as in previous versions. Along the bottom are icons for the Chrome browser, GMail, YouTube, Google Drive and other apps. We found the whole thing easy to use, especially for prior Windows and Mac users. The OS, however, does require Internet connectivity if you want to use it to its full potential. Don't get us wrong, you can still use much of the OS (and apps) without Internet, but it just doesn't feel right. The Chrome Web Store has a catalog of thousands of applications and all the major ones are there.
For ports, the Samsung Series 5 550 has two USB 2.0 ports, DisplayPort-out, Ethernet, a combo headphone/microphone jack, a 4-in-1 memory card slot and a SIM card slot. There is also 802.11n Wi-Fi and Verizon 3G WWAN cellular data support. With the laptop itself comes two years of Verizon Wireless mobile broadband service (up to 100MB per month; additional data available for a cost). It is a shame that 4G/LTE data is not supported on this model as that seems to be the big push right now for cellular providers.
The internal specifications of the laptop include a dual-core Intel Celeron (1.3GHz) CPU, 4GB of RAM, a 16GB solid-state hard drive and integrated Intel HD graphics. These specs will allow you to do the basic Web browsing, e-mailing, writing documents and the like. Streaming 1080p HD video from the Internet also worked flawlessly.
One of the selling points for this laptop is the boot times, which averages around 10-seconds, which is lightning fast compared to Windows-based computers and even Mac OS X. Battery life averages out at about 8-hours, which is about two hours more than most in the Ultrabook category.