The new Samsung Chromebook is a notebook with an 11.6 inch display and Chrome OS operating system which weighs less than 2.5 pounds, runs for up to 6.5 hours on a charge, resumes from sleep almost instantly, and costs just $249.

But there’s at least one downside. Unlike the $350 Samsung Series 5 Chromebook and $450 Samsung Chromebook 550, which each have Intel processors, the latest Chromebook has an ARM-based processor. That helps keep power consumption and heat generation down (there aren’t any fans in the new model), but it also breaks compatibility with some services.

You can’t stream videos from Netflix using the new Chromebook… at least not yet.

Chrome OS Netflix

That’s because while Netflix is a web app (just like YouTube and Amazon Instant Video), the company relies on Google Native Client software to stream video to Chrome OS devices. But right now Native Client doesn’t support ARM-based chips.

GigaOm’s Kevin Tofel reached out to Google for comment and found out that the company is working to bring Native Client to devices with ARM-based chips, so Netflix support may be on the way.

There aren’t that many big-name websites that rely on Native Client (NaCL) yet, so this probably won’t be a big deal for most users. But if you were hoping to save a few bucks by picking up the new $249 Chromebook and using it to watch Netflix videos… you might be better off either waiting until Netflix is supported or spending a little more money on a model with an Intel x86 processor.

Or you could spend less money on a netbook like a refurbished Acer Aspire One D270 which you can pick up on eBay for around $190. That machine has an Intel Atom N2600 processor, a 10 inch, 1024 x 600 pixel display, and runs Windows 7 Starter. There’s nothing stopping you from installing the Chrome browser and doing much of what you can with a Chromebook — but you won’t get instant on, 100GB of Google Drive storage, or long battery life (unless you pick up an extended battery).

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40 replies on “New Chromebook: Thinner, lighter, cheaper, doesn’t run Netflix (yet)”

      1. Intel, AMD, etc, it doesn’t matter if you want something with more than basic performance. The more performance the system provides, the more power it will consume and thus the more heat it will generate!

        All the fan-less options will also only provide very basic performance!

        Besides, being Intel has nothing to do with whether it can go fan-less or not as Intel also makes fan-less SoCs like Medfield and Clover Trail, which is more power efficient than some ARM SoCs like Tegra 3!

  1. Although bigger, a $249 ARM Chromebook could be considered as a revival of the netbook form, with a much better keyboard. I am tempted, if I decide that I can make the move to Google Docs as a wordprocessor (as it is the only web wordprocessor that can be used off-line with Chrome). By the way, from what I have read on other sites, Chromebooks already have made inroads in the education market and elsewhere. At $249 they have a crack at the consumer market. There is a $330 version with limited web access. Considering how many people have smart phones that can do email and web browsing, I don’t know how important this version will be. PS: Mostly using MACs, I never use my Asus netbook and only occasionally use the (cellular) iPad 2 that I inherited from my daughter. Although I have played with Linux (mostly Jolicloud), I have not used it for serious work (for me, that is writing).

  2. I’m interested in a Chromebook, but the lack of physical buttons on the trackpad and a nonstandard keyboard put me off.

    Make one with those, and I’m sold.

        1. Nah, you don’t, you just think you do. Buttons are a total waste of space. The pressure button on this Chromebook is for dragging — you’d normally just tap to click.

  3. There is nothing to stop you installing an ARM version of Linux on the ARM Chromebook, since it has a developer switch. The Intel Chromebooks would be easier though because a lot more distributions support those. Still the ARM Chromebook would make a nice model for ARM based development.

  4. Humm, But if it’s just a problem of native client , why that netflix does not work on x86 linux ?

      1. But then if it really use ONLY native client , it should work on any chrome with native client enable , isn’t it ?

        1. Only if Netflix identifies your computer as a device running Chrome OS. For everything else, the Netflix web app requires Silverlight.

          Maybe Netflix will change this, or maybe someone will figure out how to spoof the servers to report Chrome/Chromium for Linux as Chrome OS. (Does Chromium for Linux support NaCL yet?)

          But right now, the answer is basically that if you want to run Netflix you need a Windows or Mac PC, an Android, iOS, or Windows Phone mobile app, a Chromebook/Chromebox, or a Windows RT app… or a supported set-top-box like a Roku.

          The list of supported devices is clearly growing, but for whatever reason, Netflix specifically hasn’t worked to enable support for any web browser on Linux yet.

          1. Nacl can be enabled currently on the 4 platforms. So I don’t really understand the problem. But I guess non-root access on chromeOS can be a reason.

            yes just read that developper mode is incompatible with netflix , I’m not surprised 🙂

          2. Wow, Netflix is a f*cking retarded, frankenstein app. I guess when you’re well funded, you can hire all the half-ass, hipster engineers you want.

  5. In theory, being that this is an ARM SoC device, in order to install Linux on this would you need to flash a custom ROM? And assuming that’s the case, would this require an unlocked bootloader/root?

    1. The non-standard keyboard that lacks f-keys is going to be a problem for people wanting to install other operating systems on it.

      1. It has F1 through F10. They’re just labelled with icons instead. They still produce the same standard key codes.

        Since F is generally understood to mean “Function”, why not *show* the function instead of just a number?

  6. Their battery life claim is 6.5 hours so real world numbers are going to be lower as usual. I would have thought Samsung/Google would have targeted for a longer runtime especially for something that seems to be meant for mobile use.

    Anyway, I mostly see people buying this to install some sort of Linux distro which would probably result in even lower battery life.

    1. That’s not always the case these days — for the most part, the likes of Google and Samsung (along with Apple, Amazon, etc) have been pretty good at not over inflating the battery life of their tablets recently. We’ll have to see how it holds up in review, but I’m willing to bet that 6.5hrs is not too far off the mark.

      As for “most people” buying this to install Linux that is simply not going to happen. Indeed, if it was true that most purchasers were installing Linux, it would mean the Chromebook was an failure of epic proportions given that there just aren’t enough Linux enthusiasts out there to sustain a marketplace for such a mainstream product.

      It’s hard to understand why commenters on this type of website continue to believe that hackers and Linux enthusiasts make up more than a tiny proportion of the customers of mobile devices like tablets and Chromebooks. I guess maybe they see so many comments from like-minded people here and forget that the audience for sites like Lilputing necessarily skews heavily toward the hardcore enthusiasts. And remember, the vast majority of these people already own hacked notebooks/netbooks/tablets with Linux on them. It’s not as though Samsung is giving these Chromebooks away.

      So, in reality, it would be really surprising if there are even as many as 5% of Chromebook users running anything but Chrome OS, and if the product is a big hit, it will be far less than that. If Chromebook is a success, it will be on its own merits, not as a Linux hacker’s dream machine.

      1. Who knows about Chomebooks besides enthusiasts? Not a lot of people even know the term ultrabook right now.

        1. A lot of people I know use ultrabooks, and none of them is a programmer or Linux enthusiast. Now, admittedly the vast majority of them are Macs, but that’s essentially what they are — light, thin, good screens, and expensive.

          You are probably correct that Chromebooks aren’t that well known, but if you look at all the marketing going into this (as well as all the reviews) this machine is most certainly not targeted at the Linux crowd.

          As I said, the only reason “most buyers” of this machine would be Linux users is if it is a total flop. I wouldn’t discount that from happening, but if it does, then those Linux enthusiasts should snap one up quickly since they won’t be around very long.

          1. Do those Mac users know the term ultrabook before you told them they’re using an ultrabook?

            Weren’t all the previous Chromebooks flops? Why would an ARM version do any better?

            Target audience aside, the majority of people who know and use Chromebooks are likely the few people who follow all the tech stuff going on. Also, can you tell me how Chromebooks were marketed beyond tech enthusiast sites like this one?

        2. People will have seen them in shops and online if they’re in the market for a new laptop. It makes no difference if they know the name or not.

          I’m a big believer in statistics over random amateur-hour opinions. The Samsung series 3 Chromebook is currently Amazon’s top-selling laptop.

      2. Even at 6.5 hours battery, as a mobile enthusiast it won’t be enough for me though.

        It is my understanding from reading about Chromebooks over the past year is that the Chromebook is currently a failed product that Google is continuing to put resources into in hopes that it’ll eventually evolve into something more successful. Maybe you can point me to some articles about sales figures since I can’t seem to find any. Also, I don’t see very many non-enthusiasts even knowing what Chrome OS or Chromebooks are. I’m just guessing here but I bet not a whole lot of people even know that Microsoft is releasing a major new version of their desktop OS this month let alone about a new Chromebook.

        So I only see enthusiasts knowing about and buying Chromebooks right now. I’ve only used Chrome OS in a virtual machine but I can see people willing to put effort into removing it and replacing it with a more full featured Linux distro.

        1. Right. That’s why the Samsung series 3 is currently the top-selling laptop on Amazon. It also makes a sweet laptop to install a Linux distro on – without paying the Micro$oft tax.

          As an enthusiast, you probably have absolutely no concept of the average person’s wants or needs or what they’re willing to purchase. What you “see” and reality clearly don’t agree.

      3. If I buy one, it will definitely happen for installing a desktop Linux onto it.

        Although I am a Linux enthusiast, I will use it in the role of the secondary laptop (not as one sitting on a shelf as a toy).

  7. OR, as per the email just sent to Pixel Qi, could do this… instead.

    Mary Lou,
    Want to boost the sales of your Pixel Qi screens.
    These Android Sticks…are out there with an HDMI connector, and when they have a microphone and camera ability (for video chat, then, who knows what will happen next)?
    So, with Pixel Qi in mind… Pixel Qi PLUS Android Stick = Sales.
    Here is an idea… those Android sticks, what about having a 7 inch, or 10.1 inch, Pixel Qi screen, or what ever buyer wants, that is JUST A SCREEN DEVICE (with AA battery as Edubook folks were onto something that geeks all over would love), that then you have a slot that you dock EITHER an ARM CPU stick (android) or a modern Linux friendly xcore-X86++ stick into, AS can use BOTH CPU sticks, simply by just plugging them in and can switch one out if want to use another CPU but use still the same screen device that will accept the HDMI Stick… ALSO then, be able to plug the same stick into a full size HDMI monitor OR a TV? Or choose to use whatever size that the touch screen is, or chose to use a normal HDMI screen without touch screen too (fully at the option of the user to match then to the desired screen to use).
    THE OS could be any version of LINUX, Android, or if x86 Microsoft (dpending)? Even Google’s ChromeOS? Or, BSD UNIX, etc. Total choice of user, IF, the OS worked with the hardware on CPU stick?
    Could be a tablet or a netbook dock (that HDMI stick gets hooked up to)?Or, a smaller phone like device? OR….? Just imagine.
    If you were to focus on Android Sticks, and have your screens just be with battery, and a slot for Android Stick to go into, then it would be wise to as well build a screen dock for Android Stick or x-86 CPU on a stick system, and supply as well a port for video camera, as well as microphone, or extra speaker output WHERE you supply speakers in the ANDROID STICK dock screen (Pixel Qi, with 7 inch or 10.1 inch optional) of course, HDMI would supply sound to screen/speaker with battery or external power device… but, some might want to build own dock to then have use of a more advanced sound system to match up with (such as USB external powered mobile speaker to have better mobile sound).
    However, if you want to get rid of the 1024×600 screens you have in stock (both the 10.1 inch and the 7 inch) then, if the screen resolution is 1024×768 (or 1024×600), …both that use less power than higher resolution screens, …and if we used LINUX on it, then, might be able to use Xrandr to increase the resolution. With this type of command that can be used on 1024×600 netbook screens (but need to fix mouse pointer that gets jailed into the old resolution with a patch):
    $ xrandr –output LVDS1 –mode 1024×576 –scale 1.25×1.25 or xrandr –output LVDS1 –mode 1024×600 –scale 1.25×1.25 (depends on original resolution of your netbook)!
    …did the trick to increase the native resolution of my netbook running Ubuntu 10.10 from 1024×576 to 1280×720.
    Have you or anyone on your team tested this trick out? Works great on what I have tested it on so far?
    BUT, in the end, need to contact the Linux team as they need to fix xorg (graphic parts) or something eles, in order to get that formerly used MOUSE JAIL-fix patch back into main Linux usage, …as that MOUSE fix part of LINUX used to work where when using Xrandr, however they broke it during a LINUX upgrade a couple of years ago leaving the mouse pointer in a jail using the lesser resolution area only, thus needing a geek with Linux know-how to go find and apply the patch file. At one time it worked without a patch, but when Linux team upgraded video section, they forgot to put the resolution change ability patch into the stew, and even with postings on the list, still have not paid attention to do it (again, would allow lower resolution devices to appear to be higher resolution, and would SAVE battery power using this trick).
    What do you think of this? These Android sticks are looking for all kinds of HDMI monitors to hook onto… why not have a Pixel Qi solution for this?

    1. I’d love to see Pixel Qi succeed, but I don’t think this is the type of thing they are looking for. They are a fabless LCD screen company that sells their products to other companies for integration into their devices, whether they are notebooks, tablets, phones, GPS, or something else.

      What you seem to be suggesting is that they get into the retail market by designing their own enclosures that include a PQ screen, a battery and the control and interfacing hardware to turn it into pluggable screen for a portable computer of some kind. That is not what they do, and it would entail a massive shift in focus from being an LCD design company to a full blown device manufacturer selling to retail. It would be like ARM suddenly deciding to sell their own tablets.That’s not going to happen.

      I am sure that PQ would be delighted to work with another company who was interested in building such a device around the PQ screens and would provide them all the support they needed (if it was worth their time), but that’s an entirely different proposition.

  8. I would like to see some benchmarks between ATOM and ARM chromebooks.

    I think until ARM64 will arrive ATOm are more powerful, but as ARM is more energy efficient, perhaps for travelling the battery duration is far better and you can browse the web and watch videos easily.

    It would be great for Chrome OS to have an ACL, – android compatibility layer – in order to play Android games at chrome books or at future ARM64 SoCs having a XEN VGA passthorugh installation with Android virtualized as second OS or a solution as ubuntu inside android, but with chorme inside android.

    And of course an easier way of installing GNU packages – it is now possible as is a SUSE fork to install rpms with yum – but a software center for GNU rpm packages would be a great value add for this kind of products.

    1. It’s no use “thinking” mate. It either is or it isn’t. Which is it? Because what you “think” is completely f*cking irrelevant to reality.

    1. No, Chromebooks are similar but run the Chrome OS… Though it probably fits the name more aptly than netbooks ever did.

      Basically, Chrome OS is based on the Google Chrome Browser and is thus a Browser OS that runs cloud services and web apps.

      The benefits being nothing is really tied to the actual machine and if it gets damaged or lost, you can be back up and running as soon as you log into the replacement unit. Since everything you run would be in the cloud.

      Down side is it requires you to be pretty much always connected. Though they’ve improved it over time and it has some off-line functionality, opting to actually install some apps and sync the data for more flexible usage, and they’re working on giving it a more traditional desktop mode to expand its usefulness as well.

      Originally, it was priced higher than netbooks. The use of parts like SSDs, even of very small capacity, put a bit of a premium on pricing and like Netbooks they ran on the ATOM originally, but more recently moved to a bit more powerful Sandy Bridge based Celerons models.

      This update though finally takes Chromebooks to ARM based system, which helps finally get pricing to netbook like range, $249 for base WiFi only model and about $329 for the model with Cellular Modem.

      Downside is it’s a bit less powerful than the Celeron model and part of the cost savings is a smaller battery. So even though it uses less power you’re only getting about 6.5+ hours run time or less. Though it is thinner and lighter than the Celeron model.

      Aside from the SD card option, you’re limited to 16GB on the device itself. However, Google will provide online storage and presently got a pretty good deal for 2 years before you have to start paying. Along with pay options if you really need more.

      The main appeal factors will be low maintenance, relatively low cost, easily replaced, less vulnerable to system attacks (though it trades that for vulnerability to server attacks), and is ideal for those who basically only need a netbook like device and want to keep IT support to a minimum.

      1. Dumbass. You’re debating arbitrary and meaningless marketing terms. It’s like Mac vs. PC. Mac IS A fucking PC, just re-branded for people who can’t think outside of what they’re told.

        1. Obviously you can’t because you don’t even know the actual history!

          Netbook wasn’t a marketing term, it was a popular term originally coined by a blogger to describe mini-laptops.

          The industry did try to set parameters to set what could be called a netbook but that was after the term had already become popular and not because someone dreamed it up in some marketing team.

          Most companies never even called them netbooks in the official documentations.

          While calling a laptop a Chromebook is like calling a laptop with Windows a Windows book or a Mac OS version a Mac book.

          Basically, more descriptive than just marketing! Something you’re obviously not getting with your failed attempt at a analogy!

    2. Who cares. What’s in a name. It’s all just marketing bullshit. I prefer to talk specifics over the actual features I care about.

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