Samsung’s new $249 Chromebook features an 11.6 inch, 1366 x 768 pixel display and Chrome OS operating system. That also describes the $449 Samsung Chromebook 550 that came out earlier this year.
What makes the new model different is that it’s thinner, lighter, gets slightly longer battery life, costs less, and oh yeah… it has an ARM-based processor instead of an Intel Celeron x86 chip.
I’ve been using the new Chromebook for the past few days. I’ll have a full review next week, but I’ve been pleasantly surprised by the performance and I wanted to share a few details.
As you might expect, the Intel-powered Chromebook 550 came out ahead in both tests. But the differences weren’t as great as I would have expected.
At least part of that is probably because Chrome OS has been updated since I tested the version with an Intel Celeron chip this summer. GigaOm’s Kevin Tofel has both models on-hand, running the latest software, and he’s found a slightly larger performance gap when running tests on two models running the latest versions of Chrome OS.
But for an ARM-based device that costs just over half as much as the Chromebook 550, the new Chromebook fares pretty well in these tests. The scores are much better than I typically see for mobile devices with ARM-based chips running Android, for instance.
I ran the same tests on an Acer Aspire V5 laptop with an Intel Core i5 Ivy Bridge CPU, Windows 7 software, and the Chrome web browser. It scored higher than either Chromebook, but that laptop also can’t boot in 10 seconds and costs more than $500.
Here’s what the benchmarks alone won’t tell you. I’ve used the new Samsung Chromebook to write blog posts, conduct research with more than a dozen browser tabs open, and stream video. And so far it’s never felt slower than a typical laptop.
As a Chrome OS device, the Samsung Chromebook is only really a replacement for a full-fledged laptop if you can rely on a web browser as your only real app. But if you can live with that, the new model with a Samsung Exynos 5 ARM Cortex-A15 processor and $249 price tag offers a user experience that’s surprisingly close to what you’d get from the $449 Intel-powered model.