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Samsung doubles down on Google with Chromebox and Chromebook laptop

Samsung Series 5 550 Chromebook and Chromebox

Check out our full Samsung Series 5 550 review.

The first Chromebooks debuted about a year ago. We aren’t sure exactly how well they’ve done, but it’s clear that, a year in, there is no noticeable Chrome OS movement in the tech community. Undeterred, Samsung and Google have unveiled the latest Chrome OS hardware: the Chromebox and the Samsung Series 5 550 Chromebook. Google claims that these new products operate 2.5 to 3 times faster than last year’s models. 

Chrome OS’s new look

Google Chrome OS 2012These new units come with the latest version of Chrome OS, Google’s attempt to make an operating system that lives entirely on the Internet and Web. A year in, and the experience is beginning to look a lot closer to a traditional desktop. There is now a desktop space for icon shortcuts and you can open multiple Chrome windows at a time. Similar to Windows 7, icons can now be pinned to the lower section of the screen. 

Chromebox

Samsung ChromeboxYep, there is now a Chrome desktop. Or, at least, the closest thing to a desktop most people make these days.  The specs for the Chromebox are below. It is exactly what it looks like: a small Chrome computer that you can hook to any available monitor you own. It has six USB ports and can connect to up to two 30-inch monitors at one time. All for $330. 

Chromebox specs:

  • Intel Core processor
  • 4GB RAM
  • Dual-band WiFi 802.11 a/b/g/n
  • 2x DisplayPort++ Output (compatible with HDMI, DVI, VGA)
  • DVI single link output
  • Bluetooth 3.0 compatible
  • Kensington key lock compatible

Series 5 550 Chromebook

Samsung Series 5 550 ChromebookIf the Chromebox isn’t turning your gears, maybe a Chrome laptop might do the trick? The Samsung Series 5 550 is the sequel to the Series 5, which was one of the debut Chromebooks last year. Samsung claims it runs up to 3 times faster than last year’s model and has a battery that can extend up to 8 hours. This would be impressive, except most of its specs (minus the RAM) are already matched by Android tablets. It is available for $450.

Series 5 550 Chromebook specs:

  • 12.1-inch (1280×800) display
  • 3.3 lbs / 1.48 kg
  • 6 hours of continuous usage
  • Intel Core processor
  • 4 GB RAM
  • Built-in dual band Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n, Gigabit ethernet, and 3G modem (opt) 1
  • HD Camera
  • 2 USB 2.0 ports
  • 4-in-1 memory card slot
  • DisplayPort++ Output (compatible with HDMI, DVI, VGA)

Worth it?

All Chromebooks and Chromeboxes come with up to 16GB of flash storage onboard, much like your tablet or smartphone, but almost everything you do on the device is stored in the cloud. Google has billed the Chromebooks as an ideal solution for those who don’t understand computers well, students, and businesses, all of which benefit from the relatively low price, good battery life, lack of malware, and replacement plans Google has set up. If you pay a monthly fee, Google will replace your Chromebook.

The real question is: what does Google really get out of this and is it worth it for anyone without specific needs to invest in a Chromebook or Chromebox? While we haven’t used the newest version of the OS, we just don’t see these devices turning things around for Chrome. Things like 6-8 hour battery life and fast boot times were impressive a couple years ago, but they are already becoming the norm on tablets and upcoming laptops, thanks to Windows 8. We’re still puzzled. Exactly what need is Google filling here, and is it important enough to compete with its own OS? Couldn’t an Android device do all of this? If not, shouldn’t the goal be to merge the two? Perhaps it is.

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