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Samsung Chromebook Plus (V2) review: A speedier premium Chrome 2-in-1

The premium 2-in-1 is a more affordable way to show off what you can do with Chrome and Android in a single device.

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Joshua Goldman
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Joshua Goldman

Senior Editor / Reviews

Joshua Goldman is a senior editor for CNET Reviews, covering laptops and the occasional action cam or drone and related accessories. He has been writing about and reviewing consumer technology and software since 2000.

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Chromebooks -- laptops running on Google's browser-based Chrome OS -- are generally designed for affordability, making the term "premium Chromebook" something of an oxymoron. In fact, market research firm NPD Group defines any Chromebook that's $400 or more as premium, which is a starting price considered "budget" for Windows laptops and, well, nonexistent for Macs. 

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7.8

Samsung Chromebook Plus (V2)

The Good

The Samsung Chromebook Plus V2 adds a handy secondary camera and a more powerful processor than its predecessor adding more value to this premium Chromebook. The two-in-one design and built-in pen also make it more useful than your average low-end clamshell Chromebook.

The Bad

Though not overpriced for what you're getting, the $500 price is high for a Chromebook, there's no HDMI output (you'll need a USB-C dongle) and the keyboard is not backlit.

The Bottom Line

Samsung's Chromebook Plus V2 might be pricier than your average Chromebook, but the design and improved performance over the last-gen model let you do more with Chrome OS and Android than lower-end options.

Samsung is the leader in the premium Chromebook market, according to NPD, and looking at its updated Chromebook Plus it's easy to see why. Though some might balk at paying $500 for a Chromebook, Samsung makes it worth your while with better design, build quality and features than you'd find in cheaper options. (There's no official UK or Australian pricing yet, but that price converts to roughly £375 or AU$660.)

The Chromebook Plus V2 is a two-in-one, which means you can use it as a laptop or flip the screen 360 degrees and use it as a tablet. Or you can use it in tent mode, which is nice for video chats, or set it up like a kiosk for watching movies or giving presentations. Basically, it gives you the flexibility to do more with this Chromebook than the typical clamshell design. 

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Sarah Tew/CNET

Samsung Chromebook Plus V2

Price as reviewed $500
Display size/resolution 12.2-inch, 1,920x1,200-pixel touchscreen
Processor 1.5GHz Intel Celeron 3965Y
Memory 4GB
Storage 32GB
Graphics Intel HD Graphics 615
Networking Dual-band 802.11ac, Bluetooth 4.2
Operating System Chrome OS

The two-in-one design makes even more sense when you consider the Plus' support for Android apps through Google Play in addition to apps from Chrome's Web Store. That means if having apps like Microsoft Office or AutoDesk's SketchBook are important to getting your work done, you can use the Android versions on this Chromebook. 

Not all apps are optimized for a bigger screen, so if there's a must-have app for you, you might want to check with the developer first. Also, there are apps such as Facebook that you're simply better off using the web interface for than using the Android app version. 

Enough performance for most tasks

Samsung dropped the slower Arm-based processor found in the 2017 model for a better Intel Celeron 3965Y CPU. This Celeron is still low-end, but it keeps the system feeling snappy with both Android and web apps. Bear in mind, though, that with 4GB of memory, power users who like running multiple apps and browser windows with lots of tabs will slow it down. 

The new processor didn't hurt battery life at all. It actually ended up outperforming the 2017 Chromebook Pro we reviewed, running for 9 hours, 33 minutes on our streaming video test. That's with the 12.2-inch, 1,920x1,200-pixel display set to 50 percent of its full 300-nit brightness. 

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Sarah Tew/CNET

Aside from the updated processor, Samsung put an f1.9, 13-megapixel camera with autofocus above the keyboard in addition to the 1-megapixel front-facing camera at the top of the display. It's an OK camera -- your phone's camera is most likely better -- and maybe it's not a feature everyone needs, but for students who need to make quick videos for a project or professionals who want to snap a fast photo on a job site, the extra high-resolution camera will be appreciated. 

Finishing touches

Combine the new camera with the Plus V2's small, battery-free pen stashed in the side of the body and you can quickly mark up photos for work, school or sharing on social. You can use the pen for writing or drawing on the screen, signing documents or easily capturing specific regions of the screen just by drawing a box around it. 

Along with the pen on the sides you'll find a microSD card slot, so you have more storage space when you need it, plus two USB-C ports for power, data and driving a 4K-resolution display, a USB-A port (so you don't need dongles for everything) and a 3.5mm headphone and mic jack. Volume controls and the power button are also on the side, so they're accessible in tablet mode.   

Samsung Chromebook Plus V2 is a premium Chrome 2-in-1 for less

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About the only thing that feels a little less than premium is the keyboard. The keyboard feels a little small and there's not a ton of travel to the keys, which can make the overall typing experience uncomfortable until you get familiar with the feel. It's not backlit, which would have been nice at this price, but at least Samsung put some protection against spills underneath it. 

The touchpad is small, but works well. You can, of course, use the touchscreen instead if you want. You can even long press on text to highlight and select it just as you would on a phone or tablet touchscreen. 

At 2.9 pounds (1.3 kg), it's light enough for a daily commute and since it charges off a USB-C port, you can fill up its battery off a multipurpose power bank instead of carrying around its power adapter. The metal lid and plastic body gives it a nicer feel than cheaper all-plastic Chromebooks. It does make it somewhat top heavy, however, and you definitely have to hold down the body when you lift the lid. 

A better Chromebook experience

With its two-in-one design, the extra performance from the new processor, the additional high-resolution camera and the built-in pen, the Samsung Chromebook Plus V2 is worth paying extra for if you want to get the most out of Google's Chrome OS. Or at least more than you would with a typical lower-end Chromebook. 

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Geekbench 4 (multi-core)

Samsung Chromebook Pro 4968Lenovo 500e Chromebook 3882Samsung Chromebook Plus 1986
Note: Longer bars indicate better performance

3DMark

Samsung Chromebook Pro 42839Lenovo 500e Chromebook 28802Samsung Chromebook Plus 19922
Note: Longer bars indicate better performance

Google Octane

Lenovo ThinkPad 13 Chromebook 30415HP Chromebook 13 27178Samsung Chromebook Pro 22586Samsung Chromebook Plus 13244Acer Chromebook 15 11214Lenovo 500e Chromebook 10263
Note: Longer bars indicate better performance

JetStream

Lenovo ThinkPad 13 Chromebook 179.72HP Chromebook 13 154.68Samsung Chromebook Pro 120.79Samsung Chromebook Plus 69.992Acer Chromebook 15 64.651Lenovo 500e Chromebook 53.108
Note: Longer bars indicate better performance

Streaming video playback (in minutes)

Acer Chromebook 15 825Lenovo 500e Chromebook 656Samsung Chromebook Plus 573Samsung Chromebook Pro 537Lenovo ThinkPad 13 Chromebook 495
Note: Longer bars indicate better performance
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7.8

Samsung Chromebook Plus (V2)

Score Breakdown

Design 8Features 8Performance 7Battery 8