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Samsung Galaxy Chromebook review: Great until the battery runs out



Hardware

  Samsung Galaxy Chromebook

Nathan Ingraham / Engadget

There are no two options: The Galaxy Chromebook is an eye-catcher. The metallic red pops like no other laptop I've seen over the years. (You can also get the laptop in a pedestrian gray if that's your traffic jam.) However, it's not just the color: the silver metal edge of the Galaxy Chromebook is square and not contoured like most laptops. It is almost identical to the design of the original Pixelbook and helps the computer stand out from the crowd when closed.

The Galaxy Chromebook has fascinating connections and functions. For starters, you'll notice two USB-C ports, one on each side. Samsung also built a microSD card slot ̵

1; I would have preferred a standard SD slot, but it's better than nothing. Since the Galaxy Chromebook has a 360-degree hinge, there are two small speakers on the side when you put the laptop in tablet mode. The power switch is located on the side together with a volume rocker. Finally, there is a slot for the included stylus, which feels similar to that of Samsung Chromebook Plus and Chromebook Pro from 2017.

The tiny side speakers of the Galaxy Chromebook made me a little worried about the audio quality, but I am got away pleasantly surprised. There is a third larger speaker under the laptop that falls into your lap or onto a desk. The combination of this and the smaller speakers works well for music playback and YouTube videos. They're not as good as the MacBook Pro's great speakers that I use every day, with a little less volume and bass. They're a bit thin, like a lot of laptop speakers, but they're definitely better than I expected.

With the 360-degree hinge of the Galaxy Chromebook, you can turn it over and use it as a tablet if necessary. or support it to watch videos. I have never found 360-degree modes to be very useful. Although this computer is only 9.9 mm thin and weighs about 2.3 pounds, it is still much larger and heavier than my iPad. But it is a very compact laptop. It is slightly slimmer than the original Pixelbook and much thinner than the Pixelbook Go.

Although I don't really care about flipping the screen, the Galaxy Chromebook is a more traditional laptop. For starters, Samsung absolutely nailed the keyboard here. It's quiet and comfortable, possibly even better than the Pixelbook Go. It quickly becomes one of my favorite typing computers. It's the same keyboard layout as most Chromebooks, with one notable exception. There's a fingerprint reader right where Touch ID is on MacBooks. Setting up was easy, and once I figured out how to position my finger, it was a reliable and quick way to sign up.

  Samsung Galaxy Chromebook

Nathan Ingraham / Engadget

The trackpad isn't quite as inspired. It's smooth and responsive, but a bit too small, especially in the vertical direction. There is a lot of space between the edge of the case and the top of the keyboard, so I wish Samsung had pushed things up a bit to get a bigger touchpad.

In this case there may be no space for the camera embedded in the keyboard deck. Don't worry, it's not for video chat. Samsung says it is mainly used to photograph a whiteboard in the classroom or to scan documents. To do this, the screen must be turned over so that you are in tablet mode. This makes sense. However, Chrome OS has never made a quick switch between these two modes. On the first try, all the apps I used crashed. It's not a feature I rely on, but it's there when you need it.

When you look at the screen of the Galaxy Chromebook, you probably think first: "Wow, these frames are thin!" It's true – Samsung says they're 3.9mm wide, though the top edge is a little thicker to make room for the video chat camera. The second thing you'll probably think is "Wow, this lower bezel is huge. . " And it is – actually over an inch thick. Overall, the three tiny and one large bezel don't look bad per se, but I really want the screen to expand further down.

The Galaxy Chromebook has an impressive 4K resolution, but the aspect ratio of 16: 9 is just too restrictive for me these days. Even Apple's 16:10 laptops feel a lot more comfortable, not to mention the higher 3: 2 ratio found in some computers these days, like Microsoft's Surface Laptop and Google's Pixelbook.

In happier news panel looks excellent. It's the first OLED display on a Chromebook, and I really liked the high contrast, bright colors, and deep black. The 4K resolution makes everything extremely sharp, from websites to photos and films. The return to my MacBook Pro was a bit of a hassle, though I will say that the Samsung display transfers colors almost beyond its natural hues, a common complaint with the company's smartphone displays.

The Galaxy Chromebook also has a feature called Ambient EQ, which works like True Tone on Apple displays. That means it adapts the color temperature of the screen to your environment – a premiere for a Chromebook. While the idea is identical to True Tone, the Ambient EQ is definitely more aggressive in terms of the adjustments made – the color temperature is very warm and yellow, even in rooms where I thought I had fairly neutral light. Of course you can deactivate this function. I would recommend this if you are working with photos or watching a video.

My main problem with the Samsung-selected display is the same one I had with several newer Chromebooks: the 16: 9 aspect ratio. For a while, some Chromebooks used larger screens with more vertical content (something that you also see on the Surface – Find Microsoft hardware), but it appears that the tide has returned to the standard 16: 9 ratio. It's good to watch videos or split the screen between two apps, but I always wished I could see more of a document, web page, or chat I was in.


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