As the first laptop to come pre-loaded with Chrome OS, Samsung's Series 5 Chromebook has certainly made an impression, but is it right for business? Tom Morgan and Alan Lu take an in-depth look.
Chrome OS is as big a departure from the traditional Windows PC as it’s possible to be; little more than a self-contained web browser, Google’s cloud-based operating system is entirely dependent on internet access in order to function. When you first power up the Samsung Chomebook Series 5, the first and so-far only Chrome OS netbook, you’re prompted to connect to a wireless access point and enter your Google account details. Colleagues and friends can also use your Chromebook by logging into their own Google accounts – if they log in as a Guest then their settings, browser history etc won't be saved. Only once you’ve met these requirements will you be able to access the operating system proper.
Little more than a self-contained web browser, Google’s cloud-based operating system is entirely dependent on internet access in order to function.
Getting down to business
After you’ve logged in, the basic interface is almost identical to the Windows version of Chrome; tabs are at the top with an address bar and optional bookmarks bar underneath, and that’s pretty much it. Immediately obvious is the lack of a close window icon in the top right corner of the screen. There’s nothing behind the browser window, save for the terminal back-end. Instead, you’re reliant on the cloud for every task. All your profile settings, tabs, extensions and bookmarks are synced with your Google account, so there’s no need to add them all manually, but from then onwards you’re on your own.
The Chrome OS interface is almost identical to the interface of the Windows version of the Chrome web browser – right down to the preferences pages.
If the mention of a terminal gets you excited, then you may be disappointed to learn that unlike a traditional Linux kernel, the user-accessible Crosh shell does not allow root access or the execution of Sudo commands. To enable them, a small switch on the side of the Chromebook Series 5 will enable developer mode; with a copy of Chrome OS on a USB drive, you can flash the firmware with a version that will let you change more advanced settings.
Processor: Intel Atom N570, 1.6GHz
Memory: 2GB 1,333MHz DDR3 RAM
Graphics: Intel HD Graphics
Hard disk: 16GB Solid State Disk
Display: 12.1in 1,280x800 pixel, LED-backlit screen
Features: one megapixel camera, microphone, stereo speaker
Connectivity: 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi, 3G WWAN modem
Ports: 2 x USB2, 1 x 4-in-one memory card reader, 3.5mm headphone and microphone combo audio socket
Dimensions: 294x218x20mm (WxDxH)
Warranty: 1 year Collect and Return warranty (retail)
OS: Chrome OS
Image editing N/A
Video encoding N/A
Multiple apps N/A
Light usage battery life – 11h26m