Is now the right time to buy a Chromebook?

Google have recently announced a new Chromebook to add to their existing line-up from last year.

A Chromebook is a simple laptop designed to run the Chrome OS – a Google created OS that works solely “in the cloud”. If most of your time is spent online – Facebook, email, etc, than this may be of interest. Of course, if you are somewhere with no internet connection then it’s usefulness is rather limited.

Asus and Samsung released 2 models last year. Since then a new version of Chrome OS has been released adding substantial new features and really improving the system no end. This update was made available to existing Chromebook owners for free.

Now Samsung have released a new model.

Google-ChromebookThe thing is, with the older models still for sale is it a good bet to get the new model?

You can find out more about all 3 Chromebooks on Google’s own website, including best prices from “main” retails. Only Wi-fi versions appear to be currently available, with no-one seemingly selling the 3G versions. I should also add that the new Samsung model is not currently available to buy.

The Acer AC700 can be found from £279 and he original Samsung Series 5 is available from £299. The new Samsung Series 5 550, however, start at £379 – a clear £100 more than the cheapest. However, the 3G model of the new Samsung model is also available at £430 – clearly, if you want 3G then this is your only option.

Spec wise both of last year’s models are similiar – Dual core Intel Atom N570 1.66 GHz processor, 2GB memory and 16 GB SSD. screen sizes differ with the Acer being 11.6″ and the Samsung 12.1″. This makes a difference to the weight too with the Acer being 0.1 kg lighter as a result. The Acer has an HDMI output, whereas the Samsung has Mini-VGA (with adapter included) and the battery life of the Samsung is 2.5 hours longer (8.5 hours compared to 6 hours).

Reviews, however, show an obvious split. The Acer hardware, particularly the keyboard and touchpad, are often rated poorly compared to the Samsung, which PC Pro stated “is a joy to use”.

For £20 more it seems obvious that the Samsung is the better of last year’s models to go for.

What’s the difference between the new and old Samsung models? The memory has been doubled to 4 GB. The processor is down to 1.3 Ghz but is an Intel Celeron 867. That might sound bad but benchmarks indicate a substantial speed increase (“nearly 3 times after” according to Google). However, the PC Pro review of the original Samsung stated “the Chromebook feels terrifically snappy”, so is the memory and processor upgrade necessary?

Additional specifications on the Google website shows the new Samsung has a shorter battery life (6 hours compared to 8.5 hours) and it has a DisplayPort output rather than the mini-VGA on the original.

Looks appear slightly different – last year’s Samsung was a combination of white and dark grey, whereas the new version is a lighter grey with white. The long, single screen hinge of the original has been replaced too by 2 small ones.

Otherwise all other specifications appear to be the same.

So, you’re left with the decision – spend £80 more for an increase in processor and memory that, on the surface, would seem unrequired and a decrease in battery life.

Certainly, I’d go for last year’s model.


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