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Samsung Galaxy Chromebook 2 review: premium in the right ways

I’ll spare you the suspense: the battery life is sweet.

It’s not unbelievable. The Samsung Galaxy Chromebook 2 is much from the longest-lasting Chromebook I’ve ever examined. However after final 12 months’s Samsung Galaxy Chromebook couldn’t even make it 5 hours on a cost, my expectations had been on the flooring. I carried out my first battery take a look at on this 12 months’s sequel in an optimistic however nervous state. Lastly, a number of months after the Chromebook 2 was introduced, I’m respiration a sigh of reduction. To repeat: the battery life just isn’t a catastrophe, of us. The battery life is ok.

That’s form of the theme of this machine. There are a few standout options, and the remainder of it’s high quality. And I’m very pleased with that.

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Good Stuff

  • Shiny, vibrant design
  • Good QLED show
  • Acceptable battery life!

Unhealthy Stuff

  • Costly for what it presents
  • eMMC storage
  • Little bit of a plasticky really feel

Samsung’s Galaxy Chromebook, launched virtually a 12 months in the past, was a high-risk, high-reward play. There have been quite a lot of incredible options, a few of which (the OLED display screen, the built-in S Pen, the 0.38-inch-thick chassis) had been so fancy it was stunning to see them on a Chromebook. However two of its options had been vital issues: the $999 price ticket (placing the system in competitors with the likes of the MacBook Air), and the battery life.

The Samsung Galaxy Chromebook 2 (which isn’t a lot a sequel to the Galaxy Chromebook as it’s a extra inexpensive different) lacks a few of the Galaxy Chromebook’s most formidable options. The stylus, the fingerprint sensor, and the OLED panel have all disappeared. However in their place are all-day battery life and a sub-$700 price ticket. In doing so, it makes its case not as a groundbreaking Chromebook of the future, however as a tool you may truly need to purchase immediately.

The Samsung Galaxy Chromebook 2 seen from above and to the right. A mug sits to its left on the desk, a notebook to its right.

With colours like these, who wants OLED?

The three ports on the left side of the Samsung Galaxy Chromebook 2.

USB-C, microSD, audio jack on the left.

The USB-C port on the right side of the Samsung Galaxy Chromebook 2.

Right here, have one other USB-C.

From afar, the Galaxy Chromebook 2 seems to be pretty just like the Galaxy Chromebook. That’s a praise — the Galaxy Chromebook’s hanging design was one in all its largest promoting factors. The Chromebook 2 comes in a daring “fiesta purple” coloration, which is a cross between vibrant purple and vibrant orange. You definitely don’t see Chromebooks of this hue daily, and it’ll flip heads for those who’re sitting in public. (You can too purchase this in “mercury grey” for those who’re boring.)

Decide the factor up, and also you’ll begin to see the place Samsung has minimize some corners. It’s thicker and heavier than its predecessor, at 0.55 inches thick and 2.71 kilos, respectively. It’s nonetheless a lot mild, although it’s a bit hefty to carry as a pill for lengthy durations. With sq. edges, it additionally has a blockier vibe, and the end feels a bit plasticky and is kind of a fingerprint magnet (although the prints are straightforward to wipe off in case you have a fabric readily available).

None of those modifications are huge knocks towards the Galaxy Chromebook 2, although, particularly at this value level. It nonetheless seems to be fairly good, and the aluminum chassis is sturdy. There’s little to no flex in the show or keyboard, and whereas I noticed a little bit of display screen wobble whereas typing and utilizing the touchscreen, it wasn’t too distracting. That is the place the Chromebook 2 has a bonus over our present prime choose, the Acer Chromebook Spin 713. That system is bulkier than Samsung’s, fairly bland in its design, and has a bit extra flex in its keyboard and display screen.

The actually massive chassis downgrade Samsung has made is in the show. The Galaxy Chromebook has a 4K OLED panel that’s completely stunning however, to be sincere, not needed for the majority of individuals. As a substitute, the Chromebook 2 is the first Chromebook ever to characteristic a QLED panel. QLED panels aren’t OLED, regardless of the title similarity; they’re LED-backlit LCD screens that use Samsung’s quantum-dot know-how.

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However OLED or not OLED, that is nonetheless one in all the greatest shows I’ve ever seen on a Chromebook. It’s beautiful. Colours had been vibrant and correct, with stable distinction and high quality particulars. This machine is nice to observe movies on. It’s shiny and kicks again some glare however nothing that was too distracting. The opposite disappointment is that it’s 16:9 (1920 x 1080 decision). The Chromebook Spin 713 additionally has a really good panel at the roomier 3:2 facet ratio. However on the complete, the Chromebook 2 seems to be nice. Its audio system sound fairly good as nicely, making for a stable leisure system throughout.

I’ll admit that the keyboard took some getting used to. It’s flatter than a few of the greatest Chromebook keyboards I’ve used, together with that of Google’s Pixelbook Go. However it does have a pleasant key texture with a click on that’s satisfying however not too loud. I used to be having fun with it after a couple of days into my testing. When it comes to ports, you get two USB-C ports (one on both sides — bonus factors for handy charging!), a microSD slot, and a headphone jack. The one factor I’d want for is a USB-A, however I do know I’m preventing a shedding battle there.

As I famous earlier than, the Chromebook 2 is lacking a few of the snazzier options you’ll see on costlier gadgets (together with the Galaxy Chromebook). Probably the most vital is that there’s no biometric authentication on this; it’s password-only, and I do miss the comfort of the fingerprint reader on its predecessor. (In the event you’re tremendous anti-password, you might, technically, pair the Chromebook to an Android phone and unlock it with that telephone’s biometrics.)

One other factor you don’t get is a bundled stylus. The Galaxy Chromebook shipped with a pleasant pen, which lived in a tiny storage in the chassis. The Chromebook 2 is suitable with USI pens, however you’ll need to retailer them individually. And there’s no digital camera on the keyboard deck, one thing quite a lot of current Chromebooks have included to permit for simple front-facing photographs whereas in pill mode.

However whereas these options are all good bonuses, they probably received’t influence the common consumer’s expertise an excessive amount of. And at the $549 to $699 value factors, I’m not enraged by their absence.

The hinge, part of the screen, and part of the Galaxy Chromebook 2 laid flat, seen from above

Fairly chassis with no stylus storage in sight.

You should buy the Galaxy Chromebook 2 with one in all two processors: the beginning $549.99 configuration consists of an Intel Celeron 5205U with 4GB of RAM and 64GB of storage, and the $699.99 mannequin (which I acquired) features a Core i3-10110U, 8GB of RAM, and 128GB of storage.

The Samsung Galaxy Chromebook 2 in tent mode, angled to the right, with the screen facing the camera. The screen displays The Verge homepage.

Use it as a clamshell, a pill, or a tent.

(*2*)

The hinge is a bit stiff. It’s not completely easy to flip the factor round.

In my first hands-on with this system, I used to be hesitant about the base configuration. Regardless of the interesting value, a Celeron with 4GB of RAM is kind of an entry-level system, and I typically wouldn’t suggest it for anybody who wants their system to do faculty or workplace work. Nonetheless, I now suppose there’s one compelling use case for the Celeron mannequin: a Netflix machine. In the event you don’t plan on utilizing the Galaxy Chromebook 2 as a major driver however need to benefit from the QLED display screen for leisure, you’ll be able to most likely get away with the $549 value. (Everybody else ought to most likely spring for the Core i3.)

The Core i3 is a step down from the Core i5, the processor that powered the Galaxy Chromebook. However like an OLED display screen, that processor is overkill for a lot of Chrome OS duties. As I used the Chromebook 2 to ship emails, fiddle with spreadsheets, write in Google Docs, stream Spotify, and do different customary work, I didn’t discover any efficiency points. I additionally by no means felt any warmth in the keyboard, the touchpad, or the backside of the deck. (The Galaxy Chromebook 2 has a fan, which some skinny Chromebooks don’t.)

Battery life, as talked about, is kind of acceptable. I averaged 7 hours and 21 minutes of steady work at 50 % brightness, typically utilizing a mixture of Chrome and Android apps and typically sticking principally to Chrome. The Chromebook 2 does take a little bit of time to cost, although. It solely juiced as much as 54 % in an hour.

The place the system lagged was in duties that leverage the inside storage. The Galaxy Chromebook 2 has eMMC storage, which is significantly slower than the SSD you’ll discover in most laptops. The method of getting a batch of round 100 photographs from a digital camera into Adobe Lightroom simply dragged. It took so lengthy that, a number of occasions, I thought-about aborting the mission and hopping over to my MacBook. I ran AndroBench to verify that the storage was the challenge, and the outcomes had been… not nice. To be clear, eMMC isn’t an enormous knock towards a Chromebook at this value, however it’s a spec I’d keep away from for those who’ll have to do something with photographs or different duties that contain writing information to the drive.

The keyboard of the Samsung Galaxy Chromebook 2 seen from above. A mug sits to its left on the desk, two pens and a ruler to its right.

Nice for lighter hundreds, meh for extra.

Lastly, I believe that is my first Chromebook testing interval the place I haven’t run into any massive hiccups with Chrome OS. The working system itself has been easy for some time, however I’ve run into every kind of points with Android apps (one in all the OS’s massive promoting factors) in the previous. No main issues right here, although: nothing crashed, nothing bricked the system, nothing randomly modified dimension, nothing disappeared throughout tablet-mode transitions. That’s a welcome reduction.

Your expertise with Android apps on the Galaxy Chromebook 2 will range broadly primarily based on the app. I typically used them to maintain distractions like Twitter separate from my browser the place I used to be working. Some well-liked providers, resembling Podcast Addict and 1Weather, don’t have nice browser equivalents, so it’s helpful to have the ability to load these apps by means of Chrome OS. However on web, I discovered that the apps I used for stuff daily — Slack, Messenger, Google Docs, Reddit, Twitter, Gmail — had been both equal to or worse than their browser counterparts. The Android interfaces had been typically slower to replace and nonetheless had some kinks to work out. (You may’t click on and drag to spotlight in Docs, for instance.) Slack additionally wouldn’t let me clear my standing icon and sometimes despatched me a number of pings for the identical message. And Fb Messenger sometimes refused to reduce, and in addition despatched me enormous dumps of notifications every morning from conversations I’d had on my telephone the earlier evening. In the event you run into points with Android apps, you should utilize the internet app variations, which principally work nice.

In evaluating the Chromebook 2 to the market, the most distinguished competitor that involves thoughts is Google’s Pixelbook Go. It presents comparable advantages (a gorgeous design, first rate battery life, a conveyable construct) with comparable caveats (no biometric authentication, no built-in stylus). However as of this writing, the $649 Pixelbook Go configuration comes with solely 64GB of storage and an older Core m3 chip. So whereas there are causes sure of us may want Google’s system (it has a greater keyboard, it’s thinner and lighter), I believe the $699 Galaxy Chromebook 2 is the higher worth amongst the two. For simply $50 extra, you get a greater processor, extra storage and RAM, an excellent coloration, a convertible construct, and a spectacular display screen.

The Samsung Galaxy Chromebook 2 on a desk in front of a window, open with a mug and small plant on its left and some books on its right. The screen displays The Verge homepage.

A $549 Chromebook that appears like a thousand bucks.

A tougher comparability is the convertible Chromebook Spin 713. For $70 less, you may get that system with a Core i5, an NVMe SSD, a greater port choice that features USB-A and HDMI, and a 3:2 display screen that’s additionally glorious. On the complete, Acer’s system nonetheless presents higher worth for the common particular person. That mentioned, there’s a legitimate motive some folks could need to splurge on the Galaxy: seems to be. The Spin 713, like quite a lot of Chromebooks which can be nice on the inside, seems to be like one thing that you simply’d see on a center faculty laptop computer cart. Pared-down as it’s, the Galaxy Chromebook 2 remains to be a Samsung system: it asks a premium for {hardware} that’s stunning to have a look at and constructed to final.

Put the Galaxy Chromebook 2 subsequent to the Galaxy Chromebook, and the former has clearly minimize some corners. However it’s minimize the right corners. In some ways, it’s the system I’d hoped the Galaxy Chromebook could be: stunning, daring, and completely purposeful as nicely. It’s exchanged a little bit of panache for lots of simplicity. It’s, as I mentioned in my hands-on, “a regular-ass Chromebook.” And I couldn’t be happier with it.

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