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Samsung Chromebook 550 review

Does the new Samsung Series 5 Chromebook overcome past problems?

Our Verdict

The new Samsung Chromebook is a fine piece of kit which is a step on from its predecessor. Although Chrome OS is still not perfect, it's progressed a long way in a short time and could become a key challenger

Product features

  • Screen Resolution : 1280 x 800
  • Processor Core : Dual-core (2 Core)

View full specification

For

  • Improved speed
  • Fast boot up
  • Attractive design
  • Light and compact
  • Support for 3G mobile internet

Against

  • Underpowered for HD
  • Not as intuitive as a tablet
  • Not suitable as your main PC
  • Redundant if no internet

Chromebooks - and the Chrome OS operating system they run on - are worthy innovations, but so far have fallen short of our expectations. The idea of a laptop that's so streamlined for browsing and working on the web that it boots in seconds and can run all day off a single battery charge is certainly appealing.

Google's Chrome web browser is a fast, light and versatile program for accessing the web. Building an operating system around it, while integrating many of Google's cloud services such as Google Drive, was a great idea. Coincidentally, you get 100 GB of Google Drive storage free for 2 years.

So Chromebooks had the potential to succeed where netbooks failed, and even maybe take on the might of the increasingly popular tablet.

Samsung Series 5 Chromebook XE550C22 review

However, as we've seen with Chromebooks such as the Acer AC700 and Samsung's early Chromebook, the results have so far been rather disappointing.

Early versions of the Chrome OS had their flaws, especially when it came to the playback of media, which would often stutter, or not play at all. Having a whole operating system in a web browser that took up the entire screen also made multi-tasking and other tasks we take for granted in desktop-based operating systems such as Windows 7 much more difficult.

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The hardware that was supporting Chrome OS didn't help, either. Just because a laptop is streamlined, doesn't mean it has to be underpowered. Yet many of the early Chromebooks came with paltry RAM and integrated graphics and hardly any internal storage, which made using them sluggish and frustrating.

Finally a laptop and operating system that stores everything on the web is only as good as your internet connection - so if you weren't able to access a wireless network, the Chromebook would be all but useless.

Samsung Series 5 Chromebook XE550C22 review

The Samsung XE550C22 Chromebook has a big mission in front of it, then. It needs to overcome the failings of past Chromebooks and prove to those of us who have been left unimpressed with what we've seen so far that Chromebooks and the Chrome OS are relevant. It's certainly a tall order, but can it succeed?

Oh, and it needs to persuade us that the price of £379 in the UK or $499.99 in the US for the Wi-Fi version - or £429/$549.99 for the 3G version - for a laptop with 4GB RAM, instant boot and a novel new approach is worth the risk of removing the safety net of Microsoft Windows.

Tech Specs

Product TypeNetbook
Processor ManufacturerIntel
Graphics Controller ManufacturerIntel
BluetoothNo
Wireless LANYes
Optical Drive TypeNo
Graphics Memory AccessibilityShared
Maximum Battery Run Time8.50 Hour
Solid State Drive Capacity16 GB
FireWire/i.LINKNo
HDMINo
WebcamYes
Backlight TechnologyLED
Product FamilyChromebook 5
Operating System Architecture32-bit
Processor ModelN570
ColourArctic White
Operating SystemChrome OS
Brand NameSamsung
Processor Speed1.66 GHz
Processor TypeAtom
Screen Size30.7 cm (12.1")
Number of Cells6-cell
Screen Resolution1280 x 800
Standard Memory2 GB
Weight (Approximate)1.50 kg
Cache1 MB
Processor CoreDual-core (2 Core)
64-bit ProcessingYes
Chipset ManufacturerIntel
Chipset ModelNM10 Express
Display Screen TypeActive Matrix TFT Colour LCD
Wireless LAN StandardIEEE 802.11b/g/n
Total Number of USB Ports2
Height20.3 mm
Width294.6 mm
Depth218.4 mm
Screen ModeWXGA
Memory TechnologyDDR3 SDRAM
Product Series5
ManufacturerSamsung
Product ModelXE500C21
Product NameChromebook XE500C21 Netbook
Pointing Device TypeTouchPad
Product LineChromebook
Aspect Ratio16:10
Manufacturer Part NumberXE500C21A01US
Manufacturer Website Addresshttp://www.samsung.com/uk/
Marketing Information

Nothing but the Web
Chromebooks are built and optimized for the web, where you already spend most of your computing time. So you get a faster, simpler and more secure experience without all the headaches of ordinary computers.

Thin & Light design - just 3.3 lbs.
Weighing in at 3.3 lbs and just .8 inches thick, the ultra compact design provides maximum portability without compromising on functionality and optimal performance.

Instant Web
Chromebooks boot in less than 10 seconds and resume instantly. Your favorite websites load quickly and run smoothly, with full support for the latest web standards and Adobe Flash. In fact, Chromebooks are designed to get faster over time as updates are released.

Maximum Memory2 GB