Chromebooks have never looked so attractive. The Samsung Chromebook Plus brings style and utility to the category with a clean, eye-catching design, gorgeous 2400 x 1600 display, and great out of the box features such as the embedded stylus. Add in the full Android functionality at launch and you have the complete package.
Often when we talk about Chromebooks we compare them relative to other devices on the platform, because their performance and utility always felt strained. However, the Samsung Chromebook Plus is not only a great Chromebook, but a solid laptop that delivers an elegant design, top notch display, and array of useful features.
Samsung Chromebook Plus Build and Design
The Samsung Chromebook stands out amongst the bulky and thick plastic designs that plague the Chromebook market.The sleek silver aluminum casing gives the laptop a nice premium feel with a clean design. A chrome logo sits along the top left and silver Samsung lettering sitting just below that.
The smooth rounded corners combine nicely with the square-shaped design of the 12.3-inch display with a 3:2 width-to-height ratio. That’s easily the most notable design feature as most laptops feature the far wider 16:9 ratio. However, the square ratio really feels like it works with the Chromebook, which doubles as a tablet thanks to the 360-degree hinge display.
As with most convertibles, all of the essential buttons are located on the right-hand side for ease of access. The Samsung Chromebook also houses a small stylus that sits neatly just above the device’s power button. NBR loved how easy it was to grab the stylus. The pen dialogues with a quick click of the cap and snaps back into place with that same satisfying audible snap.
Another benefit of the more compact ratio is that it allows the device to be even more portable. Measuring 11.1 x 8.7 x 0.6-inches and weighing 2.4 pounds the Samsung Chromebook is one of the lightest Chromebooks on the market. Even better the slim profile makes Chromebook easy to wield in tablet mode, even when using only a single hand.
Samsung Chromebook Plus Ports
With a machine that lives and dies on the cloud, it’s not a surprise that the Samsung Chromebook doesn’t offer much in the way of ports. The left side of the device houses a headphone jack a USB Type-C port and a microSD card reader. An additional USB Type-C port sits on the right side of the laptop. The nice thing about the two USB Type-C ports is that either one can function as the power connector, meaning that you can easily swap based on your needs, but that also means you’ll have only a single free port when charging the device.
Samsung Chromebook Plus Screen and Speakers
The Samsung Chromebook Plus has one of the best screens NBR has seen on a Chromebook. The 12.3-inch 2400 x 1600 LED panel looks incredibly crisp with rich color detail and a luminous 376 nits brightness. Watching the Star Wars Episode 8: The Last Jedi trailer NBR was blown by how well the screen capture the deep royal blue of the ocean offset against the blinding emerald green isle in the opening shot.
The laptop also offers surprisingly wide viewing angles given the glossy finish of the display.Images held up well past 110 degrees without any color loss. Unfortunately, the screen is a bit more sensitive light, as reflections will appear on the screen in direct or heavy lighting. This was particularly noticeable when using the device as a tablet with unobstructed overhead lighting.
Perhaps the best feature of this screen is the 10 point motion controls. Everything from swipes, clicks to multi-finger gestures feel fantastic on this screen. Not to mention the stylus controls (which will get more into later). In fact, the touch controls may be the best way to actually control this device, and that’s not praise we often give to a laptop or a convertible.
The truth is the Samsung Chromebook not only has a great screen for a Chromebook but a laptop period.
Unfortunately, the device’s audio does not prove to be anywhere as bombastic as the screen. Amplification is pretty weak and the device will likely struggle to fill an entire room with audio. The good news is that at least the sound is crystal clear. Music and media came across with a great range of the mids and high. The bass did feel a bit flat though, so you may not get the tactile feel you’re looking for, but it’s also not that reasonable to expect that kind of quality from Chromebook.
Samsung Chromebook Plus Keyboard and Touchpad
The Samsung Chromebook Plus features a black island-style keyboard. Key travel as you’d expect from a device with a 0.6-inch thickness is shallow with 1.2 millimeters of travel. Activation also feels a bit weak, as it doesn’t take a lot of force for the keys to compress. Additionally, the tactile feedback is lacking. It’s important to note that the keyboard still works perfectly fine. We were able to type quickly and efficiently, it just wasn’t necessarily as comfortable as we would have liked.
Located below the spacebar is a moderately sized touchpad. The smooth rubber silver touchpad is devoid of buttons. Travel is quick and easy allowing for great control and sensitivity. Swipes and clicks work perfectly without fail or delay. Multi-finger gestures work well too with one caveat, they don’t register along the bottom edge of the touchpad. This appears to be by design, but it can be a bit disorienting. We particularly found it awkward when trying to select and copy text. However, as we continued to spend more time with the device we learned to work around it, but it’s something you need to be cognizant of.
Samsung Chromebook Plus Stylus
The Samsung Chromebook features an embedded stylus. The stylus looks a lot like a longer version of the Samsung S Pen. The stylus isn’t that thick, but it’s still easy and comfortable to wield. When the stylus pops out of the device it launches a quick command window that allows to capture part of the screen, create a note in Google Keep, use the pen as a laser stylus, or use the pen as a magnifying glass.
Google Keep is the real star as it’s capable of reading notes and using optical character recognition meaning that it’s searchable. That means that combing through the notes that took during that meeting or lecture will be lightning fast to pursue as you can instantly pull up what you’re looking for.
The icing on the cake though is Google’s purported machine learning tech that is working behind the scenes to help reduce lag. Samsung claims that this makes the experience lag-free — which we’re not really sure we agree with — there is a bit of lag, but it certainly feels faster and more responsive than the other stylus we have tried. Additionally, the pressure sensitive tip is great for more detailed oriented work like sketching.
NBR was certainly impressed by the overall experience. After all, the device was capable of accurately reading our chicken scratch and that’s pretty high praise.
Samsung Chromebook Plus Performance
It’s pretty clear that the Plus values the design, controls, and comfort over raw power and that’s reflected in the system’s guts. The Samsung Chromebook Plus features an OP1 ARM processor, with 4GB of RAM and 32GB of eMMC storage.
Some of you may be hearing that this Chromebook is packing an ARM processor and want to head for the hills, but it performed surprisingly well. The Chromebook Plus handles basic web browsing and word processing with ease, as we were able to run 10 active Chrome tabs without any slowdown. The laptop also tackled video playback well and was able to run two HD video streams in the background without any lag. Of course, this laptop isn’t designed for heavy duty productivity, so don’t expect to get a ton of mileage when computing demanding spreadsheet calculations or editing 4K video. If you want or need serious performance you’d be better served by something with a beefier processor, but the Chromebook Plus is a great option for basic computing needs.
The one notable weak point is the lack of onboard storage. With only 32GB of memory space is limited. Traditionally the Chrome OS experience has relied heavily on the cloud so the lack of space never felt like too big a deal. However, with the inclusions of Android application support there’s a much greater pull to not only store software, but media on the machine, and that makes the lack of onboard storage far less forgivable.
The Samsung Chromebook Plus isn’t a powerhouse, but it’s performing above its weight class.
The Samsung Chromebook Plus review unit that NBR tested had the following specifications:
- Chrome OS
- 12.3-inch 2400 x 1600 (3:2 aspect ratio) touch screen display
- OP1 ARM CPU
- 4GB RAM
- 32GB of eMMC storage, expandable microSD
- Bluetooth 4.0
- Dimensions: 11.06 x 8.72 x 0.6-inches
- Weight: 2.4 pounds
- Price: $450
Samsung Chromebook Plus Chrome OS Now with Android
You can’t really talk about a Chromebook and ignore the platform. The Chromebook OS is incredibly lightweight and it’s part of the reason that this system can eek out so much mileage with its specs, and it’s a lot more attractive with the addition of Android support. Having access to the full suite of Android apps is a game changer plain and simple. It exponentially expands the software selection and in some ways offers an experience on laptops that traditional operating systems can’t compete with. Take Instagram for example, with the Chromebook Plus you can easily take and post photos directly on your laptop without your phone.
While in the Beta there had been reports that users were having issues with certain programs, but we’re happy to report that we didn’t run into any of these issues. Everything from Adobe Photoshop to big game titles like Fire Emblem Heroes ran without a hitch.
Samsung Chromebook Plus Battery Life
The Samsung Chromebook Plus may not be a workhouse, but it has some serious stamina. Running on Chrome OS, unfortunately, we couldn’t run the laptop through our normal battery life benchmarks, so we opted to test the device with continuous video playback. The laptop lasted for an impressive 5 hours and 52 minutes. Under less demanding use you can expect the Chromebook to last all day on a single charge, as we were able to get around 8 hours of battery life with continuous use. The long lasting battery and quick charge capabilities make the Chromebook Plus an excellent travel companion.
Samsung Chromebook Plus Final Thoughts
The Samsung Chromebook Plus offers a great lightweight and simple computing experience that is perfect for people who simply need a laptop for the basics. The embedded stylus is a nice added feature that certainly allows this device to fill a niche. It’s fun, and it feels great to use. Save for a few stumbling points the Samsung Chromebook Plus really puts forth a great polished experience. The sleek simple design looks and is perfect for travel. The device’s portability is only further bolstered by the long lasting battery. The display is breathtaking, with excellent color depth and brightness. Even the ARM processor took us by surprise, with solid multitasking. Add in the Android app support and you have more versatility than you have ever had on the Chrome OS platform.
But a complete computing experience also makes the flaws a bit more noticeable. The onboard memory is limited. Which becomes less forgivable the increased the software selection. Additionally, both the keyboard and the touchpad doesn’t quite live up to the high quality of the rest of the device. They’re certainly serviceable, but they’re not as comfortable as we would have liked.
Still, these stumbles do little to deter from the overall picture. As we said early the Samsung Google Plus isn’t just a high-quality Chromebook it’s a high-quality device.
- Gorgeous display
- Responsive embedded stylus
- Sleek attractive design
- Long lasting battery
- Weak feedback on keyboard
- Limited onboard memory