Samsung’s Chromebook Pro highlights the category’s continued evolution

by admin February 10, 2017 at 4:58 pm

Chromebooks hit a key milestone last May, outselling Macs in the US for the first time ever, by IDC’s account. It was a pretty big win for a category oft maligned at launch for its relative lack of functionality. And while the devices are, perhaps, not fully mainstream, they’ve had an impressive rise over the last couple of years.

If you haven’t had much experience with one, it’s a pretty safe assumption that you haven’t spent much time in a classroom recently. Extremely competitive price points coupled with rugged designs have made the category extremely appealing for school, a sector that has served as the driving force in the products. But have the devices seen enough progress to justify purchase after graduation?

Announced at CES back in January, Samsung’s two new Chromebooks serve as a good signpost for how far the category has come in the five-and-a-half years since it was first launched, coupling offline functionality with a newfound access to Google Play, opening the laptop up to a sea of Android apps. That coupled with a convertible form factor and the very Samsung-esque inclusion of a stylus (née S-Pen) make for one of the more compelling Chromebooks in recent memory.

Chromebook by its cover

The Chromebook is fairly simple as the name implies, with two pancaked pieces drawn together by large silver hinges. It’s an unassuming looking thing – more or less what you’d expect from a budget system. The “Platinum Silver” coloring is nice enough to look at, though the finish scuffed extremely easily as I ported it around town in my backpack, so you’ll probably want to pick up a devoted case for the thing.

Like the (vastly more expensive) new MacBooks, Samsung’s Chromebook aims for port homogeneity, with a single USB-C on either side, which can be used to charge the device, plug in accessories and stream to and charge a 4K monitor, if you really want to get fancy with your $449 Chromebook.

There’s a headphone jack and microSD slot on the left; volume rocker, power button and stylus housing are on the right. Two small speaker grilles are positioned on the underside of the Chromebook, elevated from the desk by a quartet of rubber feet.The system is 0.55-inches thick, weighing in at 2.38 pounds – that’s a bit thicker and heavier than a MacBook, but certainly portable enough to pop into a backpack.