Blog Post

Video hands-on with Google’s new $249 Chromebook

Google introduced a new Chromebook on Thursday that costs $249 and runs on the same ARM chips that power smartphones and tablets. The new device, made by Samsung, looks extremely similar to the current Chromebook Series 5 550 model that I bought in June and have used as an everyday laptop since. The newer model is lighter, thinner and has no fan, however, and costs $200 less than the prior edition. In 2009, I suggested that Google would use these chips for ChromeOS; I was wrong — until now — but hardware advances make it possible.

I’ve spent a few hours with Google’s(s goog) new device and have a short overview, comparison to the prior model and thoughts after some hands-on time. Take a look:

ChromeOS is still the same here, although it has a few subtle design tweaks that make it look more professional as a platform. The device comes with 16 GB of on-board storage, can be expanded with an SD card and gains 100 GB of free Google Drive storage; something we expected to see happen at some point. A faster USB port and full-sized HDMI jack for digital TV output is also here, but gone is the wired Ethernet port; it’s Wi-Fi or nothing for connectivity. Google will debut a 3G model in the future, however.

The new Chromebook is just under 2.5 pounds and is both sleeker and thinner. Battery life appears the same as Google says “up to 6.5 hours.” While the 1366 x 768 screen is 0.5-inches smaller, it’s not a detriment. Of course, the biggest change is the ARM (s armh) processor inside. It’s a Samsung Exynos 5250, which is a dual core, next-generation Cortex-A15 chip of Samsung’s own design. It handles 1080p video just fine and runs the ChromeOS quite well. I’d say the performance is comparable to the Intel-powered(s intc) Chromebook I have, but perhaps a half-step behind; at least in my few hours of using the device.

At this price, however, Google has a large opportunity for students and general consumers to pick up one of these new Chromebooks. I still believe that a Chromebook isn’t for everyone; I’d never suggest otherwise. For everyday web tasks and basic productivity, however, the device is perfect and attractively priced.

60 Responses to “Video hands-on with Google’s new $249 Chromebook”

  1. Myles Gilbert

    So what is the purpose of having 16GB of onboard storage when there are no applications to utilize media or files that aren’t going through chrome? Is it just for uploading photos and files to Google Drive?

  2. Important question! Do sites like Hulu (ok..Hulu) consider this a desktop OS or mobile OS? I ask because, as any Hulite knows, some shows only show up on the “web” while others show up on mobile apps, Roku, etc.. Can you watch the “web-only” content? This is the deal-breaker for my wife. :)

  3. $249 certainly is compelling, but I don’t think I’d give up my $400 Windows netbook. It’s still only a browser with limited storage and limited functionality. I can see my mom using something like this, but for ripping DVD’s, running Office or viewing premium web content… it’s just not what I consider a serious work tool.

  4. Nuruddeen Lewis

    Great review. I’d like to see a video showing the process of importing a video from a USB or sd card, uploading it onto the chromebook, and perhaps even doing some minor editing to it in the browser. I guess I’m just interested to see how easy it is to get other content onto the chromebook without sending it by email.

  5. Kevin you’ve grown some facial hair since your last chromebook review! When I heard of the new chromebooks I came here right away as your review was the most fair review I saw of the previous 5 550. Thank you for the unbiased Equally skeptical and optimistic review!

  6. Wonder if you could run current microsofh programs on the Chromebook. Otherwsise, how could you work on your regular PC and transfer your documents to the Chrome, or vice-versa?

    Senez

  7. Lipierben

    My most important question, with the move to ARM does it support always-on active notifications? AKA, when it’s asleep will it beep or have a light flash when you get a new email?

    • I see no evidence that it does. There is no indicator light for notifications, nor a sound setting for them either, for starters. Unlike a smartphone, when in “sleep” mode, this appears be more like a hibernation mode from what I can tell.

  8. Michael Benninger

    As far as I know, ‘From Dust’ is the only app in the Chrome Web Store that doesn’t run on my Sammy 550. I don’t suppose it would run on the “new” Chomebook, but maybe you could check, Kevin? Awesome review, by the way. Great to see ChromeOS continue to grow.

  9. By the way, lack of an Ethernet port is no biggie. If for some reason you need a wired connection, just grab a $4 USB-Ethernet adapter. Chrome OS supports those perfectly.

  10. any chance you can run some benchmarks? at least the likes of Sunspider, Browsermark, Google V8 , Google Octane ,Mozilla Kraken. It is the first A15 so it would be fantastic to have some benchmarks

    • I don’t consider that a dumb question; this is a new-ish platform that not everyone knows about. ;) Essentially, this notebook runs the Chrome web browser and that’s it. You can’t install any apps so everything is done through the browser. That means no iTunes or Word (or any other installable app, for that matter). for Word functionality, I use Google Docs, which is web-based. For music, I use Amazon’s web player or Google Music through the web. Hope that helps explain a little! :)

  11. WiFi Connections

    Kevin,

    If at home and you have a quick google search, which do you reach for first- the new Chromebook or your Nexus 7? They are both side by side…..

    Best,

    Dale Buckey

    @WiFiConnections

    • The largest device I have nearby.. If I’m in my office, my Chromebox attached to 27″monitor. If in the family room, my Chromebook. If I’m out somewhere and I was going to be at a desk or in a chair for a while, I’d take my Chromebook. If I were spending a few minutes at a coffee shop or restaurant, I’d take my Nexus 7 tablet. If I’m standing in line at the store, my Galaxy Nexus phone.