Lo and behold, Google and Samsung might just have finally designed a Chromebook with genuine mass appeal. The newly announced Samsung Chromebook features no moving parts, Google’s cloud-connected Chrome OS, and — in a retail first — Samsung’s powerful new Exynos 5 Dual processor, which is based around ARM’s beefy Cortex-A15 architecture.
The most important part is the price tag, though: at $250, the new ARM-powered Samsung Chromebook costs nearly half as much as the Intel Celeron Samsung Series 5 550 and teeters on the edge of impulse buy territory.
With 2GB of RAM and 16GB of flash storage, the new Chromebook isn’t exactly a computing powerhouse, but the Chromebook’s appeal lies in the cloud, not in its hardware. In fact, Google taps into its extensive cloud platform to compensate for the relatively paltry storage space, offering buyers 100GB of free Google Drive storage for two full years. A full-sized SD card reader can help boost storage capacity even further. Bluetooth, an HDMI port and a pair of USB 2.0 ports continue the connectivity options.
Of course, the new Chromebook suffers from the same limitation that turned some people off from its predecessors: Google’s Chrome OS is heavily reliant upon the Internet for its core functions. That’s becoming less of an issue in these days of Wi-Fi at fast food joints and offline editing in Google Docs, but if you’re worried about being able to access your data anywhere, anytime, Samsung also offers a $330 3G version compatible with Verizon’s WWAN network that includes 100MB of free data for two years. Updated 10/31/12 to remove Share Everything Plan reference.
The new Chromebook’s 11.6-inch screen is slightly smaller than the 12.1-inch models that came before, but the shrinkage — which goes hand-in-hand with the new Chromebook’s 2.5 lb. heft and 0.8-inch thickness — should help to make it even more portable than ever.
Early reports say the Chromebook’s keyboard, trackpad and all-around responsiveness feel great, especially for a $250 machine, but we’ll let you know our final verdict when we get a model in for review. The new Chromebook is available for preorder now and should turn up at retail outlets on Monday.