First Take: Samsung Series 5 Chromebook, the future of Netbooks? (hands-on video)

Low-priced, fast-booting, and always-connected, Samsung's first Chrome laptop offers an alternative--and possibly truer--take on the concept of a "Netbook."

Updated, 2:30 p.m.: First look video added.

Today at the Google I/O Conference, Samsung and Acer formally announced actual Chrome OS-running laptops . We've already gotten full details on Samsung's model, called the Series 5, and it seems at first glance to offer a tempting combination of performance and price, provided that Chrome OS is everything it's promising to be.

Right off the bat, the most appealing part of the 3G version is its two-year included 100MB/month data plan via Verizon. It's the only 3G laptop we can think of that comes with free data, albeit a pretty small amount. The Series 5 starts at $429 for a Wi-Fi-only model and $499 for Wi-Fi/3G. Available in two colors, "Titan Silver" or white, the Series 5 looks like a sleek Netbook, not unlike the prototype Chromebook sent by Google last year. While Samsung's press release provided a healthy dose of specs, certain details were left out, which we discovered via the Amazon preorder page.

Here are the stats:

  • 11.6 inches by 8.6 inches, 0.79 inch thick
  • 3.3 pounds
  • A full-size keyboard
  • Multitouch touch pad
  • 1.66 GHz dual-core Intel Atom N570 processor
  • A 12.1-inch SuperBright display at 300 nits, with a 16:10 aspect (no pixel resolution given)
  • Instant-on from standby, and an 8-second boot time
  • 16GB SSD drive
  • 2GB RAM
  • HD Webcam
  • Two USB ports
  • 8.5 hours of battery life
  • SD/SDHC/MMC/SDXC card slot
  • stereo speakers

Our updated take: While we initially found the Series 5 to be an intriguing option based on Samsung's initial erroneous report of a Core 2 Duo processor, we're a little less bullish on an Atom-based 12-incher with only 16GB of onboard storage. Chrome OS might be lighter than Windows XP, but we'd still prefer more media storage space. The package sounds a lot like the Lenovo 12-inch Ideapad we reviewed a while back. At this price, you could also get a 11.6-inch Wi-Fi AMD E-350-powered ultraportable running Windows 7.

The Series 5 will be available June 15 from Amazon and Best Buy.com, in the U.S. as well as the U.K., Germany, Spain, France, and Italy. It's currently available for preorder.

Related links
• Acer Chromebook: A solid-state Netbook for $349
• Video: Google unveils Chromebooks
• Complete coverage: Google I/O
 

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