Samsung Galaxy Chromebook 2 Review: One Step Back

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Samsung Galaxy Chromebook 2

  • QLED screen is gorgeous

  • Rock solid design

  • Responsive, quiet keyboard

  • Fast performance

  • Thick lower bezel

  • Sloppy touchpad

Every year we expect the technology to be faster and better than last year. Samsung did the opposite with the Galaxy Chromebook 2.

It has a lower resolution screen, is thicker and heavier, and doesn’t have a built-in S-Pen slot. It even uses a slower processor. What kind of sequel is that?

Well, the Galaxy Chromebook 2’s name might be a misnomer, but the device hits a sweet spot for Chromebooks in terms of the $ 550 price tag. It’s a far more palatable price than the $ 999 original Galaxy Chromebook. But did Samsung sacrifice what made this laptop so special to bring the price down?

design

The Samsung Galaxy Chromebook had two distinctive features: the insane thinness of its profile and the bold red color of the case. The color remains, although there is now a more general silver option as well.

Unfortunately, its size has grown. The original was a staggering 0.39 inches thick – and only 2.29 pounds. It’s still one of the lightest laptops you can buy. The continuation is much more conventionally 2.71 pounds and 0.55 inches thick. It’s by no means too big, but now a bit thicker and heavier than the Pixelbook Go. It’s also in step with the Asus Chromebook Flip C436, another premium Chromebook.

That’s not to say that this is the least bit bad-looking laptop. The Fiesta Red color is more fun than ever and the build quality is exceptional. I miss the CNC cut side panels, but it’s still one of the nicest Chromebooks you can buy. That is, before I got my fingerprints on the lid. It’s a bit like a fingerprint magnet.

Overall, however, I prefer the sharper angles and edges over the overly rounded style of the Pixelbook Go.

One feature of the design that hasn’t changed is the lower bezel. However, over the past year we’ve seen a shift towards bigger screens with slimmer chins, whether it’s 16:10 or 3: 2. Even Chromebooks like this Acer Chromebook Spin 713 I switched to the boxy aspect ratio of 3: 2, which I preferred to the squat 16: 9.

Either way, the bottom bezel is a thorn in the side, though it’s also an issue the Pixelbook Go and Acer Chromebook Spin 713 have. Only the Asus Chromebook Flip C436 managed to remove enough grease from the lower bezel to meet modern laptop standards.

The port selection hasn’t changed and is still limited to just two USB-C ports and a microSD card slot. You will also find an on / off switch and a volume rocker on the sides.

This is of course because the Galaxy Chromebook 2 has a 360-degree hinge. The larger size and lack of a built-in pen limit the usability of the device as a tablet. However, this is unlikely to be why you’re buying a Chromebook.

Keyboard and touchpad

The color of the keycaps is the most notable change to the keyboard. They’re black now, which is a little more conventional. And also a little more boring.

It’s still a wonderful keyboard for typing, as long as you can familiarize yourself with the shallow travel. The buttons click while remaining quiet, and I was happily typing at my normal speed in just a few minutes.

The touchpad isn’t such a nice experience. It’s spacious, but the surface isn’t as smooth as I’d like it to be, resulting in awkward clicks and pulls and finger jumps.

Display and speakers

The original Samsung Galaxy Chromebook had an OLED 4K screen. This is practically unknown for a Chromebook. As great as it was, the impact on battery life wasn’t worth the extra pixels. The 1080p QLED screen Samsung worked with here is a much better choice. Samsung’s patented QLED screen technology has shown excellent results on laptops such as the Galaxy Book Flex.

It’s not as bright as a MacBook Pro or Surface Pro 7, but the Galaxy Chromebook 2’s 13.3-inch screen makes up for it in colors. Pictures and videos are really colorful without ever looking oversaturated. You can thank quantum dot technology for this kind of color rendering that is rarely found outside of 4K panels.

All of this would result in a great multimedia experience – if these speakers sounded better. They point down at your face instead of up, with the grills resting flat against the bottom of the case. Most down-facing speakers are least built into the raised edges to bounce sound off tables and desks. But these are flat, which results in them being both muffled and too quiet. If you have them on a pillow or soft surface, they can become almost silent.

I assume they are aimed at you in tent mode, but that’s not a worthwhile compromise.

The sound from the speakers would be decent if they weren’t where they are. Pity! The Pixelbook Go is still the undaunted winner in audio.

performance

Measuring performance on a Chromebook is difficult. Any Intel Core or AMD Ryzen processor will make a laptop like this fly. This applied to the Samsung Galaxy Chromebook 2 with the Intel Core i3-10110U processor, 8 GB of RAM and a 128 GB SSD. This is the more expensive configuration that costs $ 699. The startup configuration operated by Celeron is not the desired one, especially since it only contains 64 GB of eMMC storage.

You can’t configure the Pixelbook Go in exactly the same way, but memory aside, the Pixelbook Go is $ 50 cheaper. I’ll call it a value wash.

Both use a dual-core processor – the Pixelbook Go with the 8th generation Core m3 and the Galaxy Chromebook 2 with the 10th generation Core i3. There are also not the latest chips that can be viewed in a Chromebook. At the CES, Intel announced 11th generation processors for Chromebooks that have an improved 10 nm architecture and integrated graphics from Intel Iris Xe.

By the time they make it into the first Chromebooks, you can expect a more significant leap in gaming performance and creative endeavors. The meager built-in Intel UHD graphics are barely enough to play some of the more intense 3D Android games like Asphalt 9: Legends.

Do you want to work with dozens of tabs open at the same time? No problem.

Despite only two cores and four threads, the Samsung Galaxy Chromebook 2 feels snappy and responsive. I tested this further with the Tachometer 2.0, which measures how quickly the system can reload a JavaScript application. With a score of 118 runs per minute, the Galaxy Chromebook 2 doesn’t slow down any of the web apps or Android apps that you depend on.

Want to work with dozens of tabs open, including audio and video streams at the same time? No problem. This should not have been the case with the Intel Celeron model, which does not have the multitasking capability. I ran the Galaxy Chromebook 2 on the Android version of Geekbench 5, which rated the system at 1,003 in single-core and 2,179 in multi-core mode. The quad-core options on the Pixelbook Go or the Asus Chromebook Flip C436 will surpass it, but it does well against configurations with similarly priced items.

Battery life

Battery life is arguably the most important test for Chromebooks. It’s often one of their greatest strengths over similarly priced Windows notebooks. This was a problem with the original Samsung Galaxy Chromebook and wasn’t fully resolved in the second generation.

Samsung promises a battery life of 13 hours, which is not that ambitious at first. The M1 MacBook Pro promises 17 hours of Internet surfing and 20 hours of video playback.

It has a battery life of 45 watts, which is slightly longer than last year. But the results didn’t blow me away. It took just under 9.5 hours of light web browsing and only 13 hours of local video playback. It was a couple of hours behind the Pixelbook Go. It was neck to neck with the Asus Chromebook Flip C436 in video loop, but surfing the Internet an hour later.

That said, the Galaxy Chromebook 2 can last most of a work day, and ultimately that’s enough for most people.

Our opinion

The Galaxy Chromebook 2 is no better laptop than its predecessor. It’s a better Chromebook, however. It fits exactly what people are looking for in a Chromebook and is finally affordable enough to recommend.

However, missing some of the special features of the original, the Galaxy Chromebook 2 is less interesting than it used to be. However, the QLED screen is outstanding, the performance is great, and the design is undeniably attractive.

Are there alternatives?

Google’s Pixelbook Go is the main alternative to the Galaxy Chromebook 2. It has longer battery life, a 1080p webcam, better speakers, and is more portable. It’s the better option for most people and is even $ 50 less with a similar configuration.

The Asus Chromebook Flip C436 now starts at $ 523 and has a larger 14-inch screen, smaller bezels, and a better choice of ports.

How long it will take?

Nowadays, you can expect a Chromebook to last a few years longer than a Mac or Windows laptop. The Samsung Galaxy Chromebook 2 comes with a standard one-year warranty.

Should you buy it?

Yes, especially if you love the design and color of this laptop. I could see someone pick up the $ 550 base configuration as a lightweight computer for browsing the web and the occasional Zoom call. The Pixelbook Go has better battery life and some high-end features, but the Galaxy Chromebook 2 is one of the better Chromebooks that hit the market last year.

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