The Samsung Series 5 Chromebook is now shipping, and Acer is expected to begin selling the AC700 Chromebook any day now. With prices starting at $350, these laptops offer 11.6 inch to 12.1 inch high resolution displays, super-fast boot speeds, and the security that comes from running very little native code since they basically only run the Google Chrome web browser.
On the other hand, you can pick up a 10 to 12 inch mini-laptop computer running Windows 7 for the same price or less. You won’t get the speedy boot times or some of the web-centric or security features that come with a Chromebook. But the laptop also won’t turn into a useless lump of plastic when you’re in a location with no internet access.
The folks at Laptop Magazine decided to pit the Samsung Series 5 Chromebook against one of the closest competitors they could find: An Asus Eee PC 1215B Windows 7 laptop. Both have 12.1 inch displays, but the Chromebook has a 1.66 GHz Intel Atom N570 dual core processor with GMA 3150 graphics while the Asus laptop has a 1.6 GHz AMD E-350 dual core CPU with Radeon HD 6310 graphics. The Asus laptop retails for $450 or less, which is about $20 higher than the suggested retail price for the Samsung Chromebook.
Laptop has a point-by-point comparison looking at the user interface, performance, battery life, and software available for each. I’ll try not to ruin the surprise, but one laptop came out ahead in almost every test. You can find details at the Laptop blog.
I reviewed the Series 5 and the Eee PC 1215B recently as well. On the one hand, it’s hard to truly compare these two devices, because one is designed to run a full range of third party applications while the other is designed to offer a stripped down and simple user experience for people who primarily want a speedy web browsing experience. I can’t say I’m horribly impressed with the Chromebook concept right now, but I suppose I could see it being an attractive option for someone whose computer needs are very different from mine… if the price was much lower.
What about you? Which would you rather have? A Chromebook, a netbook, or some other sort of low cost laptop?