Tonight at the Samsung Chromebook Series 5 launch party we got a chance to go hands-on with the first Chromebook, a sleek little notebook that could be the vanguard of a new laptop category.
Aesthetically, the Series 5 is pretty minimalist, but not without style. The rounded edges are a nice touch, making the notebook comfortable to hold and carry. The 3.3 pound weight is noticeable, especially if you’re used to netbooks, but not shoulder-straining. It adds to the Chromebook’s solid feel.
Inside the unit is a dual-core Intel Atom N570 CPU, a 16GB SSD, 2GB of RAM, and a lithium polymer battery that should last 8.5 hours and 1000 charging sycles. Samsung also claims that the battery life won’t decline as quickly as traditional lithium ion batteries, so even as you approach 800 cycles you should still see good longevity. Good thing, as the battery is not removable. Samsung and Google also claim that users can expect up to a week of standby time, yet still get instant-on after leaving it alone for that long.
There are few ports on the Series 5 — just 2 USB 2.0, a 4-in-1 card reader, a mini VGA (requires a dongle which does come with the computer), and combo headphone/mic. So, that’s less than your typical netbook. Part of this is due to Samsung’s desire to keep the unit thin (0.79-inches). Given that Chrome OS may not work with a ton of peripherals, anyway, users may not need more ports.
Under the hood the 12.1-inch display boasts 300 nits of brightness. The chiclet keyboard is very similar to the one found on the Samsung Series 9, which we liked. The clickpad has a similar look and feel to the Series 9 as well. It’s multitouch capable, but right now the only multitouch gesture it can do is two-finger scrolling. More gestures will come with Chrome OS updates. We found both comfortable to use.
The Samsung Chromebook Series 5 will be available on June 15th through Amazon and BestBuy.com for $429 (Wi-Fi) and $499 (Wi-Fi + 3G).
We should have a Series 5 in house within the next couple of weeks so we can do a full-on review. In the meantime, check out our video and gallery below.