Samsung Galaxy Chromebook overview: Nice, till the battery runs out

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{Hardware}

Samsung Galaxy Chromebook

Nathan Ingraham / Engadget

There aren’t any two methods round it: The Galaxy Chromebook is a head-turner. The metallic purple pops like few different laptop computer colours I’ve seen through the years. (You can too get the laptop computer in a extra pedestrian grey, if that’s your jam.) It’s not simply the colour, although: The Galaxy Chromebook’s silver metallic edge is squared off, not contoured like most laptops. It’s near-identical to the design of the unique Pixelbook, and it helps the pc stand out when it’s closed. 

The Galaxy Chromebook has an intriguing set of ports and options. For starters you’ll discover two USB-C connections, one on either side. Samsung additionally included a microSD card slot — I’d have most well-liked a normal SD slot, nevertheless it’s higher than nothing. Because the Galaxy Chromebook has a 360-degree hinge, there are two small audio system on the facet for when you have got the laptop computer flipped into pill mode. The facility button can be on the facet together with a quantity rocker. Lastly, there’s a slot for the included stylus, which feels fairly much like these included with Samsung’s Chromebook Plus and Chromebook Professional from 2017. 

The Galaxy Chromebook’s tiny facet audio system had me a bit fearful about audio high quality, however I got here away pleasantly shocked. There’s a 3rd bigger speaker beneath the laptop computer that fires into your lap or a desk, and the mixture of that and the smaller audio system do an excellent job for music playback and YouTube movies. They’re not so good as the superb audio system on the MacBook Professional I take advantage of each day, with a bit much less total quantity and bass response. They’re additionally a bit bit tinny, as many laptop computer audio system are, however they’re positively higher than I anticipated.

The Galaxy Chromebook’s 360-degree hinge enables you to flip it round and use it as a pill in a pinch, or prop it up for watching movies. I’ve by no means discovered 360-degree modes very helpful. Regardless that this laptop is just 9.9mm skinny and weighs about 2.Three kilos, that’s nonetheless quite a bit larger and heavier than my iPad. However, it makes for one very compact laptop computer. It’s ever-so-slightly slimmer than the unique Pixelbook, and far thinner than the Pixelbook Go.

Whereas I don’t actually care about with the ability to flip the display screen round, the Galaxy Chromebook excels as a extra conventional laptop computer. For starters, Samsung completely nailed the keyboard right here. It’s quiet and cozy, presumably much more so than the Pixelbook Go. It’s rapidly grow to be one among my favourite computer systems to kind on. It’s the identical keyboard structure you’ll discover on most Chromebooks, with one notable exception. There’s a fingerprint reader, proper the place Contact ID sits on MacBooks. Setting it up was simple and, as soon as I discovered the way it wished me to place my finger, it was a dependable and quick method to check in.

Samsung Galaxy Chromebook

Nathan Ingraham / Engadget

The trackpad isn’t fairly as impressed. It’s clean and responsive, however just a bit bit too small, notably within the vertical course. There’s an excellent quantity of house between the sting of the chassis and the highest of the keyboard, so I want Samsung had pushed issues up a bit to make for an even bigger touchpad. 

But when that had been the case, there may not be room for the digital camera embedded within the keyboard deck. Don’t fear, it’s not for video chat. Samsung says it’s primarily there for taking photos of a whiteboard in school, for instance, or for scanning paperwork. That requires flipping the display screen round so that you’re in pill mode, which is sensible — however Chrome OS has by no means dealt with fast switching between these two modes, and the primary time I attempted it, all of the apps I used to be utilizing crashed. It’s not a function I depend on, nevertheless it’s there for those who want it.

When trying on the Galaxy Chromebook’s display screen, the very first thing you’ll in all probability assume is “Wow, these bezels are skinny!” It’s true — Samsung says they’re 3.9mm extensive, although the highest border is barely thicker to make room for the video chat digital camera. The second factor you’ll in all probability assume is “Wow, that backside bezel is large.” And it’s — over an inch thick, in actual fact. Taken as an entire, the three tiny bezels and one huge one doesn’t look unhealthy, per se, nevertheless it actually makes me want the display screen prolonged additional down. 

The Galaxy Chromebook might sport a formidable 4K decision, however the 16:9 facet ratio simply feels too limiting to me nowadays. Even Apple’s 16:10 laptops really feel considerably extra snug, to say nothing of the taller 3:2 ratio you’ll discover in a smattering of computer systems nowadays, like Microsoft’s Floor Laptop computer and Google’s personal Pixelbook.

In happier information, this panel seems to be wonderful. It’s the primary OLED show on a Chromebook, and the excessive distinction, vibrant colours and deep blacks had been all pleasing to my eyes. The 4K decision makes all the pieces extraordinarily sharp, from web sites to images and flicks. Going again to my MacBook Professional was a little bit of a drag, though I’ll say that Samsung’s show nearly exaggerates colours past their pure hues, a typical grievance with the corporate’s smartphone shows.

The Galaxy Chromebook additionally has a function known as Ambient EQ, which works like True Tone on Apple shows. That’s to say, it matches the colour temperature of the display screen to your environment, a primary for a Chromebook. Whereas the concept is identical as True Tone, Ambient EQ is unquestionably extra aggressive by way of the changes it makes — the  shade temperature may be very heat and yellow even in rooms the place I believed I had fairly impartial mild. Naturally, you’ll be able to flip this function off, one thing I’d suggest each time working with images or watching a video. 

My major concern with the show Samsung selected is identical I’ve had with a number of latest Chromebooks: the 16:9 facet ratio. For some time, a bunch of Chromebooks had been utilizing taller screens that displayed extra vertical content material (one thing you’ll additionally discover on Microsoft’s Floor {hardware}), nevertheless it appears the tide has turned again to the default 16:9 ratio. It’s good for watching video or splitting the display screen between two apps, however I just about at all times discovered myself wishing I might see extra of a doc, net web page, or chat I used to be in. 

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