Today we bring to you a detailed review of the Samsung Chromebook 3 11.6-inch portable computer. We will take a look at the key specifications of the device along with all the other stuff you need to know. If you are planning to buy a low budget chromebook, then definitely check out this review.
Samsung Chromebook, although it is not very much in demands, it is still in the game. For those who don’t know what a chromebook is, let me tell you that it is a laptop running on Google’s cloud based operating system called Chrome OS. Or you can call it as a type of laptops running a full-fledged web-browser on it.
This computer is designed to use while connected to the Internet and supports applications that reside on the web, rather than traditional applications that reside on the machine itself. All the data is stored in the “cloud” and can be accessed with the help of an Internet connection.
The hardware is not powerful as compared to other laptops, and this makes Google Chromebook a very affordable productivity machine. It can easily satisfy your productivity needs as it uses Google Drive service to let you create documents, spreadsheet, presentations and forms.
It is also capable to satisfy entertainment needs as it comes with an integrated media player. Although Internet is necessary to use Chromebook, there is support for offline apps as well. Users are able to access Google applications such as Gmail, Google Calendar, Google Keep, and Google Drive in offline mode. Chromebooks also come with a built-in local music player, a photo editor, and a PDF viewer that are functional without Internet access. Lastly, Chrome apps such as Amazon’s Cloud Reader, the New York Times App, and Angry Birds offer offline capability.
Samsung Chromebook 11.6-inch offers the same functionality. It is a good, affordable and inexpensive computer that will suite web needs for different users.
Samsung Chromebook 11.6-inch
Samsung Chromebook Series 3 retains the typical Google Chromebook look and feel. The surface is made of plastic with a glaze of silvery finish. The colorful Chrome logo resides at the top-left corner of the lid, and this identifies it as a Chromebook from other Samsung laptops.
Because of the silvery finish and black island-styled keyboard one might confuse it with Apple MacBook Air 11-inch. This Series 3 Chromebook measures 289.5 x 205.7 x 17.8 mm and weighs 1 kg approximately, which is smaller and lighter than Series 5 Chromebook.
With such a lighter and compact design, it a bit narrower than Apple MacBook Air 11-inch, but is deeper and thicker than it. The touch pad is comparatively large that is grooved in the body. The large touch pad offers better cursor screen coverage and also allows you to flip up the screen with your thumb.
Like other laptops, it is not provided with any connectivity ports on its either side. The left right side is kept with no ports at all, where as the left side has a SD card slot tray and 3.5mm headphone jack. As seen in traditional laptops, all ports on Chromebook are located at the backside of it.
Samsung Series 3 Chromebook has its own kind of keyboard that resembles to MacBook’s keyboard by aesthetics. This Chiclet keyboard has large keys, which prove very comfortable while typing. We loved the way this keyboard gave us a desktop keyboard like typing experience. Only thing this keyboard lacked is backlight, but after all we shouldn’t forget it is a $250 machine.
The keyboard found on Chromebook is altogether different from other laptops. On Chromebooks the Caps Lock key is replaced with a Google Search button, which opens a small window from the bottom toolbar that returns search results from Google and Chrome apps.
Chromebook doesn’t have function keys; instead they have Chrome OS specific keys that perform tasks similar to function keys. Instead of function keys, the row above the keyboard is replaced with back, forward, refresh, full screen, brightness control and volume control buttons.
The overall silver minimalistic design with a sweet Chrome logo along with rich black keyboard makes Chromebook look neat and pleasant.
Samsung Chromebook Series 3 has an 11.6-inch matte LED display and 1366 x 768 pixels resolution. It fails to impress in this area, as the display that it uses do not meet the expectations. The resolution is very good as compared to Series 5 Chromebook, and the viewing angles are quite satisfactory.
However, colors look somewhat washed out and backlighting in not very intensive. This low intensity backlighting makes the display appear dim with 200 nits brightness. In comparison with other devices, the chromebook’s display is very disappointing. We thought of overlooking it because of its low price tag, but couldn’t as many similar priced tablets including the Nexus 7 perform better than it.
The dim display is noticeable especially if you have used high brightness devices like the Retina Display iPad or Chromebook Pixel. Although the display is dim, it will not irk you while editing documents on Google Drive, surfing the web and watching movies.
Except the processor, internals of Samsung Chromebook Series 3 are typically of a laptop. A dual-core 1.7GHz Samsung Exynos 5 processor powers Samsung Chromebook Series 3, which is an ARM based processor that powers high-end Android tablets. As it is capable of powering high-end Android tablets it can easily handle all the needs of Chrome OS.
Alongside there is 2GB RAM to fulfill memory demands by the browser while web surfing or using web apps. 2GB of memory is enough to handle casual web surfing habits, but if you get into multi-tasking with too many browsing tabs and web apps, then Chromebook will start struggling.
There are other Intel-powered Chromebooks that beats Samsung Chromebook Series 3 when it comes to performance. However, these performance powerhouses cost a lot, and such high-priced Chromebooks are not really needed. We were impressed by the performance it offered in our tests, for a moment we thought it is housing an Intel processor.
It sustained our load test, and the result was better than expected. We ran three different games simultaneously in three different tabs, a YouTube video in 1080p, and a 720p video in media player. To our surprise, this Chromebook was easily able handle all these without noticeable amount of lag. Even navigation between applications and tabs was very smooth and lag free.
Only issue we found was with a 1080p video. On playing a 1080p video with full-screen in the media player, we found video showing lags at times. However, considering this issue is completely redundant. Samsung Chromebook Series 3 is an affordable piece of hardware, which is focused at casual usage. Considering the casual usage, it serves the best, but is not overkill for it.
On the board it has a 16GB SSD on which the Chrome OS is installed. As the capacity is very less, by now you should know that it is not meant for storage. Besides the operating system there is some space still left, which can be used for storage purpose.
Being a cloud-based device all the data is stored on the Google Drive. Google offers 100GB free online storage as a privilege to Chromebook users. All your files and data can be stored, and easily accessed whenever you want provided that you have an active Internet connection.
The solid-state drive on the board contributes greatly for the performance it offers. All system-wide tasks like booting, waking up, file transfer, and playing files stored on the internal storage largely depend on the type of media used. As Samsung Chromebook Series 3 uses a blazing fast solid-state drive, the performance offered on its part is top-notch.
In our booting test, Samsung Chromebook Series 3 performed exceptionally well. The first boot time was 12 seconds, which is close to that offered by a high-end Windows 8 ultrabook. This is not a fair comparison, of course. Chrome OS is a much more lightweight operating system than Windows 8.
This 12 seconds booting time of Series 3 Chromebook is close to Series 5, which boots in 11 seconds. This is the lowest boot time reported on comparison with iPad Air, Asus VivoTab RT and Google Nexus 7. Alongside, the wake up time on the Series 3 Chromebook turned out to be 3 seconds.
Samsung Chromebook Series 3 is available in two variants – Wi-Fi and Wi-Fi + 3G. Unlike any other laptop, Chromebook is the only one to come with 3G capabilities right inside the laptop. Since Chrome OS is cloud-focused, user needs to be online all the time, and this is where the 3G variant comes handy. The one we are reviewing is a Wi-Fi + 3G model.
Other connectivity options include various ports that can be used for storage expansion as well. For this iteration of Chromebook Samsung moved majority of the ports to rear side of the laptop. The right side of Chromebook Series 3 does not have any port, but the left side has an SD card slot and a headphone jack.
The ports located at the rear side include a USB 2.0, USB 3.0, HDMI, power, and a SIM card slot with a covering if you have the Wi-Fi + 3G model. Notebook designers generally don’t place ports at the rear side, because these ports are used too often and searching for them at the rear side becomes very annoying.
Similar is the case with Samsung Chromebook Series 3. If you want to connect any device to the ports lying at the back, you will have to fold the display forward and lean over the machine to see the ports. This is very annoying especially when you want quick access to them.
Samsung Chromebook Series 3 has two speakers mounted on the bottom of the notebook. The speakers are powerful and emits loud yet sharp and clear sound. The sound quality is decent and the intensity is too good to gather nearby people.
Chrome OS that powers Chromebook is entirely based on Linux. The user interface takes a minimalist approach and consists almost entirely of just the Google Chrome web browser. This means that Chrome OS is almost a pure web thin client OS.
Samsung Chromebook Series 3 that we were testing was installed with Chrome OS version 23. After booting up, the OS landed us to desktop, which is a simple page with customizable background. We were surprised to find that it was not the traditional desktop that we see on Windows and Mac systems.
The desktop didn’t provide any other functionality than providing a background to the windows that are not maximized. The desktop on Chrome OS lacks the ability to add icons, folders or files to it. This makes the desktop pretty much useless.
At the bottom there is a menu bar on which reside quick-access app icons on the left side, and clock, volume, connectivity and battery indicator on the right. You can add any number of apps on the menu bar as long as there is space on the menu bar.
At the extreme right where the quick-access app icons end is a grid icon that opens the launcher window. Launcher contains 4 x 4 grid of application icons that are installed on the system and not pinned on the menu bar for quick access.
Chrome OS requires an active Internet connection to take advantage of the features that it offers. Although many apps require Internet connection, there are various apps pre-installed on Chromebook that can work in the offline environment as well.
Google offer offline version of many of its apps. Gmail directly downloads emails on chromebook’s internal drive to make it available for offline viewing. Alongside, it also offers offline email composing, saving a local draft and then syncing to email once the Internet connection is restored.
Chrome App Store also features lots of offline apps, some popular among them are Google Play Books, New York Times and ‘Angry Birds’. Offline apps support is a savior; it saves Chromebook from becoming useless when it is not connected to the Internet.
Chrome OS consists of a file manager that lets you browse files from Google Drive and internal storage, but with a catch. The file manager features a ‘Downloads’ folder and Google Drive gateway. Everything that you download from the web is stored in Downloads folder.
Google neither gave access to operating system files nor provided a ‘local’ folder in which users can store their important files. Fortunately it lets you make subdirectories under Downloads folder and Google Drive, so you can store your important files there.
You can even plug an external USB drive to the provided USB ports. The drive appears under the file manager, which lets you manage files stored on it. If you are falling short of the internal storage available, then you can use an external hard disk drive to expand your storage needs and store your important files.
In addition to this, the file manager also acts as a gateway to access files stored on the SD card that is plugged inside. It handles ZIP archives in a very weird way. Whenever you open a ZIP file, a separate drive is mounted that consists of all the files inside the ZIP archive.
Chrome OS comes with Google Chrome that lets you browse the web efficiently. Being same kind of web browser as on other platforms, it offered same browsing experience with smooth navigation and very less pre-loading time. However, there were some points where Chrome didn’t perform efficiently.
I could easily find of some limitation when I headed over to Netflix’s website. I decided to play something, but it didn’t work, as Chrome requires Microsoft Silverlight installed. Downloading it off Microsoft’s website and installing was redundant as this was not a Windows based system. Also, there was no plug-in available that could provide support for Silverlight.
YouTube was working fine up to 480p video quality, but as we played 720p or 1080p videos it started struggling. Videos that were played in 720/1080p quality dropped frames, although they were running in hardware-accelerated HTML5 mode.
Chrome OS provides an integrated media player to play media files stored locally on the drive or on an external drive. This media player supports most media formats and plays them easily. We tested mp4, mkv and avi file formats, and all of them worked fabulously.
Performance offered by media player for 720/1080p videos is better than YouTube. We did several tests with 720p and 1080p videos in various file formats, and surprisingly 720p videos were playing extremely smooth and better than expected, but 1080p videos dropped frames.
Although media player is capable of handling various file formats, it is still not baked properly. Various essential features like looping a clip, creating a playlist and hiding the mouse cursor while video is playing is still missing in the media player.
Battery like offered by Samsung Chromebook Series 3 is satisfiable. We did battery test by toggling different features, and we were really astonished by the results. Firstly, we did a test for web surfing using Wi-Fi only, and the battery lasted for about 7 hours and 12 minutes.
Battery life was comparatively low when we were surfing the web using 3G. It lasted for 5 hours and 6 minutes. While playing media files in the integrated media player, the battery lasted for 7 hours and 33 minutes. The backup offered by it is very good as compared to other ultraportable laptops.
Samsung Chromebook Series 3 is a best value for money notebook. The Wi-Fi only model costs $249, and for the 3G model you will have to fetch some extra bucks. If mild productivity is your option, then this is the best choice. Also, 11.6-inch is very good for productivity on the go; it enhances portability and also makes handling very easy.
Since it is powered by ARM based processor it cannot run some apps available in the Chrome Store. But, it can run all the pre-installed apps that are necessary for general use very smoothly. It is a sexy looking laptop that borrows some design elements from MacBook Air.
The keyboard and touch pad is comfortable to operate. Battery life is acceptable and you can expect it to back you up by up to 7 hours easily. You can use it for watching movies while travelling or rely on it for making documents and spreadsheets. Made for not so heavy use, Samsung Chromebook Series 3 is a very good option if you are interested in getting online or just want to use it as a secondary computer.
Samsung Chromebook Series 3 11.6-inch (Key specifications)
- 11.6-inch LED HD
- 1366 by 768 pixels native screen resolution
- 200 nits brightness
- Samsung Exynos 5
- 1.7 GHz dual-core processor
- 1 MB shared L3 cache
- 2 GB DDR3L onboard memory
- 16 GB of internal flash storage
- VGA (0.3 MP) camera
DIMENSIONS and WEIGHT
- Height: 0.66-0.69 inch
- Width: 11.40 inches
- Depth: 8.21 inches
- Weight: 2.43 pounds
- Built-in 30-watt-hour Li-Po battery
- Up to 7 hours wireless web
- Up to 7 hours movie playback
CONNECTIONS and PORTS
- One USB 3.0 port
- One USB 2.0 port
- HDMI out port
- AC power port
- 3- in-1 (SD/SDHC/SDXC) card reader
- 802.11a/b/g/n Wi-Fi networking
- HSDPA (optional)
- Stereo speakers (1.5W x 2)
- Integrated microphone
- Headphone port
- Microphone in
KEYBOARD and TRACKPAD
- Full-size keyboard with 74 keys
- No backlight
- Scroll Scope, Flat type Touch pad