You don’t really need a laptop with too much processing power if everything you do, whether personal or work-related, is pretty much online. A Chromebook would more than suffice. These inexpensive laptop alternatives are perfect for light-usage social media and web-based productivity. Right now, you can get three of Samsung’s best Chromebooks on Amazon at awesome discounted prices. Save up to $155 when you get Samsung’s Chromebook 3, Chromebook Plus V2, and Chromebook Pro today.
You can always rely on Samsung’s devices to be good pieces of hardware, and the Chromebook 3 is no exception. It’s slim, light, and evokes an Ultrabook’s aesthetic. It’s not exactly made of premium materials, but it certainly feels sturdy. Its 11.6-inch display offers solid performance. With a pixel resolution of 1,366 x 768 — which is higher than that of the Samsung Chromebook 5 — the colors onscreen nicely pop, although the blacks aren’t that deep, and it isn’t nearly as bright as we had hoped for. Still, it’s a pretty decent screen considering how affordable it is and is good for watching movies and TV shows in a dimly lit room.
At the back of this laptop, you’ll find most of its ports, which are a bit limited in number. There’s one USB 2.0 port, one USB 3.0, a full HDMI, and a SIM card slot (on the 3G version). On the left side, there’s an SD card slot and a headphone jack. The small number of ports isn’t really a drawback and something we’ve expected in a budget laptop. The Chromebook 3’s keyboard is pretty good, very reminiscent of a MacBook. For a laptop this thin, tactile feedback and travel are decent and keystroke is quite comfy. However, you won’t spot an Fn key here (since keys don’t actually have alternative functions), and instead of a Caps Lock key, there’s a Search key.
As with other Chromebooks, the Chromebook 3 runs with Chrome OS. Google has worked extra hard to make its interface as simple and efficient as possible. The operating system is now infinitely better than it used to be. In fact, people accustomed to using Windows and OS X would find this interface quite similar. Unfortunately, there are still a limited number of offline apps that you can download from the Chrome Web Store.
Underneath the hood, the Chromebook 3 is powered by an Intel Celeron N3060 processor with 4GB memory and 16GB of internal storage. It’s pleasantly speedy and snappy when browsing the internet and having multiple tabs open is no problem. Another great thing about this Chromebook is its battery life. The N3060 processor is not exactly a power hog, so you’ll be able to use this for as much as seven hours with continuous maximum usage.
The Samsung Chromebook 3 may be inexpensive, but it’s powerful if used primarily as a web browser. It’s got solid hardware components and superb battery life, with only a few shortcomings like missing keys and a limited number of offline apps. Right now, you can get it on Amazon for a huge $81 below its usual price. Take home this speedy and dependable Chromebook for just $139 instead of $220.
The Samsung Chromebook Plus V2 boasts a solid yet lightweight chassis that’s a combination of aluminum and plastic, making it perfect for travelers. It doesn’t quite match the level of material quality of the more premium Samsung Chromebook Pro (see below), but overall we’ve got little to complain about in terms of build quality. It has a sturdy hinge design that rotates 360 degrees so you can use it as a tablet. Together with the built-in stylus, you can use the Chromebook Plus V2 as a digital sketchbook for drawing, designing, editing, and more.
The Chromebook Plus V2 stands out in terms of connectivity, where it is far better than the Chromebook 3 and on par with the Chromebook Pro. You get two USB-C ports supporting data, display, and charging, along with a USB-A 3.0 port for legacy devices and a Micro-SD slot for storage expansion. Of course, there’s the usual 2×2 MU-MIMO 802.11ac Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.0 radios, and a 3.5mm combo audio jack.
This Chromebook’s 12.2-inch IPS display has an unusual 16:10 aspect ratio, which makes it slightly taller than the usual 16:9 Chromebook display, although not as tall as the 3:2 ratio on the Chromebook Pro. This results in some minor letterboxing when watching videos, but it’s forgivable. For a relatively affordable notebook, its screen is outstanding. Colors are vibrant and contrasts are rich, and the only fault we can think of is it isn’t the brightest display around. Again, considering the price, this is pretty minor and shouldn’t dissuade anyone from buying it.
Chromebooks are most often equipped with a webcam, but Samsung took things further and placed a secondary rear camera on the Chromebook Plus V2. The 13-megapixel lens is capable of autofocus and can take gorgeous, crisp photographs when used in tablet mode. Powered by an Intel Celeron processor that’s backed by 4GB of RAM and 64GB of expandable memory, this Chromebook runs smoothly when binge-watching Netflix, surfing the web, and writing emails. We have to mention though that while this Chromebook isn’t exactly slow, we did notice some annoying delays when we had many tabs and apps open. Lastly, since the Celeron processor and Chrome OS aren’t power hogs, the Chromebook Plus V2 can easily last an entire day under normal usage.
The Samsung Chromebook Plus V2 normally retails for $550, but with Amazon’s incredible $155 discount, you can get yours for $395. And if you pay via the Amazon Rewards Visa Card and get approval, enjoy an additional $60 off instantly, bringing the price down even further to $335.
The Samsung Chromebook Pro looks undeniably high-end and solid. Its magnesium alloy chassis feels sturdy to the touch, even though it is super thin and weighs a measly 2.38 pounds. The hinge is also pretty sturdy and rotates the screen to 360 degrees, turning the Pro into a tablet.
The touchscreen display is gorgeous and responsive, with a 2,400 x 1,600-pixel resolution. Colors are vivid, contrasts are deep, and everything looks sharply detailed. Unlike most of Samsung’s laptops, the Pro has a 3:2 display that’s typically seen on tablets. You get more vertical space for a better view of your work, and you’ll certainly appreciate viewing photos and webpages in portrait orientation. Unfortunately, because of its squarer shape, movies and TV shows tend to have thicker black bars above and below the picture.
Another consequence of this unusual proportion is the keyboard gets cramped. Important keys like the backspace and tab are too narrow, and there’s also no backlighting. The power button and volume rocker are found on the keyboard, so using this on tablet mode can be a little awkward. Fortunately, the keystroke is comfortable and very responsive, and so is the trackpad. The Pro also comes with a digitizer stylus.
What makes the Samsung Chromebook Pro recommendable is its surprisingly fast performance. Powered by an Intel Core m3-6Y30, a dual-core chip with a 900MHz base clock, 2.2GHz Turbo Boost, and Hyper-Threading, this Chromebook is well-equipped for juggling multiple tabs. The stylus also works seamlessly, with no noticeable lags or stutters.
Because of its Android integration, the Pro supports a lot of apps found on the Google Play store. You can now see Instagram in all its full-sized glory instead of the teeny-tiny version on a laptop browser. Not everything is available though. Snapchat and Uber installed successfully, but we couldn’t get past the login page. Another major downside is its middling battery life, a clear consequence of its ultra-thinness. In our web browsing test, it was only able to last five fours. It fared better in our video loop test, lasting nine and a half hours.
Despite the shortcomings, the Samsung Chromebook Pro is still worthy of recommendation for its solid build, beautiful display, and fast performance. You can now get it for $490 instead of $600. And if you order now after being approved for the Amazon Reward Visa Card, you can score an additional $60 off instantly, reducing the even further to $430.
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