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Monday, June 13, 2011

Samsung Series 5 is the First Chromebook


The Samsung Series 5 is the first ever Chromebook, featuring a 12.1 inch screen and an Atom N570 dual core processor. In many ways, this is the first ever true netbook, because going on the Internet is pretty much all it can do.

Initial reviews of the Series 5 have been mixed, although I think it is fair to say that most people are pretty unimpressed. While there is nothing wrong with the “browser in a box” philosophy per se, I think most of us were expecting a much smaller and lighter box for a computer that can basically only run a browser.

The Samsung Series 5 netbook features 2GB of RAM, a 16GB solid state drive, a couple of USB ports, a VGA dongle, a SIM card slot, an SD card reader, and a standard mic/headset port. This is pretty much as basic as it gets, and there is no HDMI, no Ethernet, and no Bluetooth to spice things up.

However, Google are talking up the user experience of this netbook more than the spec sheet, and it is here where this computer has a chance to redeem itself. Google are promising a very fast boot time, with the netbook said to be ready in under 12 seconds. The battery is also being reported to go for at least 8 hours, and the entire file system is encrypted to avoid virus infections.

The Chrome browser lies at the heart of the Series 5 Chromebook, although Google have thrown in a basic file browser and media player. However, basic functionality like listening to music is all dependent on the browser, the cloud, and a WiFi connection, because you can’t store much on the small internal flash memory.

As many analysts have been predicting and many reviewers are now saying, these Chromebooks feel a little like an experiment. Users are simply not used to living entirely on the Internet, and depend on their desktop for a variety of things. While the first ever commercial “Internet OS” netbook may be a great item in computing museums in years to come, this first Chromebook appears to make much less sense as a practical option in 2011.