Samsung S5 550 Chromebook: All in after a week

Samsung S5 550 Chromebook: All in after a week

Summary: The recent purchase of a Chromebook surprised me by proving how well it works for me. After a week of using the Chromebook, that surprise has morphed into total satisfaction.

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Samsung Chromebook

The first day with my new Samsung S5 550 Chromebook went well, but that's often the case with new gadgets. The euphoria that comes with a new device often gives way to a reality that is not quite as good as that first day. Having used the Chromebook heavily for week I am happy to report it is just as good now as on that first day.

Chromebooks are not for everybody, it's important to make that clear. Folks who need certain programs may find being constrained to web apps in Chrome to be a liability. I work online in Chrome on every system I use so the Chromebook is tailored for my work routine.

Chromebook hardware

Snap view

Samsung has nailed the hardware in this Chromebook. The size of the Series 5 550 is a perfect balance of portability and utility. The 12.1-inch display is a good fit for using Chrome and at no time do I wish it was bigger or had a higher resolution. I can put the browser in full-screen mode and have no wasted space on the screen, yet access the taskbar and apps easily.

The chiclet keyboard is very good and as a fast touch typist I can type as fast as on any device. The key layout is simply perfect for me and I don't wish any keys were positioned differently. This is rare as most keyboards have one or two keys placed in such a way that results in mistyping, but not on this one. The top row of special keys designed to operate the browser (back, forward, refresh page) make working in the browser just right.

The thin and light Chromebook is one of the most comfortable laptops I've used. That comfort starts with the outstanding portability and extends to using the laptop in any situation. It's a simple process to slip the Chromebook out of the bag and sit down anywhere to work. Open the lid and in seconds the system resumes with no lag to connect to whatever Wi-Fi network is available. It rivals tablets in that regard, a good feat for Chrome OS.

The most significant piece of hardware on the Samsung Chromebook that makes it work so well is the large trackpad. This one works so fluidly it is the only one I've used that rivals that on Macs. The two-finger scrolling is incredible and the buttonless operation simply works. I have not been tempted to connect a mouse even once, something I do on every laptop I use. This trackpad has become the standard for me.

Chromebook software

There really isn't any software in Chrome OS other than the browser, and it's as good as they get. It is the full implementation of Chrome so all bookmarks and extensions installed on any system are simply there on the Chromebook. The browser looks just like it does on any system so there was no learning curve whatsoever.

I have added some extensions to the Chrome browser on the Chromebook since I've been using it so heavily. These extensions add functionality to the browser to better help me get things done. Following are the major extensions I have added to the Chromebook that I am using in my daily work.

Chat for Google- this provides a simple chat window for using Google Talk. I can conduct text, audio, or video chats easily in a window while using the browser.

Clearly- this extension presents web pages in an easy to read format upon request. I can save web pages in this format to Evernote, my primary information database.

Document viewing- this allows me to open most Microsoft Office documents right in the browser. It comes in handy when colleagues send me documents in email.

Elegant Calculator- this is a good calculator accessible in the browser. There is both a basic calculator and a scientific calculator selectable.

Reeder for Chrome- I spend a lot of time in Google Reader keeping up with hundreds of RSS feeds and this extension puts a nice skin on Reader. It isn't an official Reeder app, it just looks like it.

Reeder for Chrome
Reeder for Chrome

Scroll to Top button- this installs a simple opaque button on all web pages that takes you back to the top of the page when clicked. It is incredibly useful.

Tweetdeck- I am on Twitter all the time, and the Chrome Tweetdeck extension is great. The recent update makes it work very well on the Chromebook.

Tweetdeck for Chrome
Tweetdeck

Email this page by Google- this does exactly what it says.

It is worth checking out my list of useful Chrome web apps that also round out the Chrome OS. Note that all of the extensions listed and all web apps work with any Chrome browser installation, no Chrome OS required.

The Chrome browser and extensions turn the Chromebook into a full-fledged computer as capable as Windows PCs and Macs. The Chrome OS has evolved in its short lifetime and using it is now like using any computer, not just a browser. The Chrome OS is updated automatically and without impacting using the Chromebook. This is an advantage over other platforms that cannot be downplayed.

The Samsung S5 550 Chromebook has turned into my full-time work system. I now reach for it first thing in the morning, leaving the 27-inch Windows PC on my desk. I grab the Chromebook when I head out the door to work, leaving the iPad and keyboard behind. I did not expect the Chromebook to make such an impact on my work routine. It's a good impact and I am very pleased with my purchase of the Chromebook.

 

Topics: Laptops, Google, Mobile OS, Samsung

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40 comments
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  • The Chrome OS is just a signal of the direction we are heading

    I still can't make the distinction between Chrome OS and a web browsing Window and that's my main problem with it. I believe that what MS is cooking with HTML 5 and Windows 8 will bring a superior experience, things like Pulse.me work seamlessly in Windows 8 fullscreen IE10 and the performance is great.

    iPad as a productivity tool fails, people force the iPad to act as a laptop but it is not.
    runner50783
    • Perhaps

      "iPad as a productivity tool fails, people force the iPad to act as a laptop but it is not."

      Well, it's true that you have to be a little tech-savvy and jump through some iOS hoops to be productive. And you have to be able to search for and find the apps that you need.

      Some people just can't figure it out.

      I, for one, am glad not to have to balance an open laptop on one hand while walking :D
      harvey_rabbit
      • dodge

        I, for one, am not happy about having to watch out for people walking while totally engrossed in operating their mobile devices.
        cwallen198031
    • Depends on the definition of "productivity"

      If you're talking about the traditional word processing, spreadsheets, etc., then yes, I agree, the iPad (or any tablet sans keyboard) pales in comparison to a full blown laptop, but this isn't 1993 anymore, and business people do much more on computers than word processing and spreadsheets. There are plenty of functions that a standalone tablet, whether it be iPad, Android or anything else are very well suited for, some of which maybe even more so than a traditional laptop or PC.
      TroyMcClure
    • bla bla

      bla Microsoft bla bla Windows8 bla bla ....
      Watchmen247
    • it's the same as windows with chrome, minus the annoying parts of windows

      "I still can't make the distinction between Chrome OS and a web browsing Window and that's my main problem with it."

      it's the same thing. however, with a chromebook, you don't have to update, you don't have to virus scan, you don't have to deal with backing up, moving, storing files. its the same thing as windows with chrome, minus windows. if you mainly use the internet, why do you need windows sucking up power to run background services? why do you need a 500gb hard drive? why do you need more than 4gb of ram? 2-3 hours on battery? my chromebook consistently gets over 6 full hours even when playing netflix. don't forget that it's a REALLY nice computer, it's not just the OS that makes it a nice setup.
      portermiked
    • Windows 8 seamless - In a word, No!

      Windows 8 is anything but seamless - it is a Frankenstein OS.

      Windows 8 is Windows Phone 7's Metro interface and Windows 7's GUI cobbled together. Windows RT has virtually nothing that runs on it (it can't run current Windows applications), and Windows 8 (x86) has lots of Windows 7 applications that need to run in Windows 7 GUI mode - which don't work on tablets.

      Windows RT and metro apps on Windows 8 pro is a complete waste of time at the moment, and it will be at least a couple of years at least before Metro apps approach the number available for Android or iPad tablets.

      Windows 8 Pro will sell in good numbers, but on mainly on desktops and laptops, and only by virtue of Microsoft forcing customers to buy PCs preloaded with it (as they did with Windows Vista). Most users who know how to do so will downgrade to Windows 7 as they did with Windows Vista, and businesses will wait for Windows 9 before considering an upgrade.


      I am not really sure where Windows 8 tablets would be useful. For casual users, who don't want to use full business apps like Office, and don't want the pain of trying to use Windows 7 mouse and keyboard based applications on a tablet, there really isn't any point of buying a Windows 8 tablet at least for a couple of years until there is an equivalent app database to iPad and Android tablets. For business users who do want to use Windows 7 business apps, there isn't a lot of point to a Windows tablet - they might as well get a Windows 7 laptop, with a proper keyboard and mouse built in to allow Windows 7 apps to be used less painfully.
      Mah
  • I've had a similarly positive experience with my Chromebox

    I was surprised at how much I liked my Chromebox (the desktop version of the Chromebook) and all the hassles it removes from everyday computing. I recommended the Chromebook to my 77-year old mom, but she bought a fat HP laptop instead. When I showed her my Chromebox and how fast and simple it was, she admitted the mistake in not getting one. Best of all, it updates itself and if it ever freezes or has a problem, just reboot and five seconds later, you're back to square!
    zaine_ridling
    • Similar situation

      My parents were going to replace their venerable eMac and wanted a desktop for both of them and a laptop for her. She was concerned about synchronizing her data between the two computers, especially photos. I advised her to get the Chromebox and Chromebook, so her data including photos would be automatically instantly synced as well as backed up (they have experienced catastrophic hard drive failures in the past). They ignored me and got a MacBook Pro and iMac. Now she has endless hassles trying to sync the two Macs' iPhoto, etc., Mail demanding passwords because she had to change it from the other computer, etc.
      Carney3
  • waste of money

    "The Chrome browser and extensions turn the Chromebook into a full-fledged computer as capable as Windows PCs and Macs. "

    - The dumpest statement I heard this year...
    owlllnet
    • dumpest?

      Inevitable when you criticize. However, I think you're right. It is as capable as a PC or Mac if all you need is what you can do from the browser & online apps.
      gtvr
    • Haven't been to the Chrome webstore lately, I take it?

      You'd be surprised how good some web apps are. Check out Pixlr, for example.
      zaine_ridling
    • Dump or Dumb?

      Everythin YOU are writing down here is DUMB !
      Watchmen247
    • Chromebooks can run any application Windows or Mac can - just on a server

      Think you can't run the full MS Office on a Chromebook? Think again! Try these demos.

      http://www.ericom.com/AccessNow_DemosIntro.asp

      Chromebooks can run any app that any version of Windows, Mac, or Linux can run, and all at the same time. The only requirement is that you need good connectivity - either good WiFi or LAN connectivity, and a server to connect to (which can either be a local corporate server, or a cloud server like on the demo).
      Mah
  • Samsung S5 550 Chromebook: All in after a week

    A glorified typewriter and you are willing to spend $500 to limit your options with it. I guess its ok if all you do is type up a blog but with IT becoming more complex this chromebook model just will not work for the rest of us.
    Loverock Davidson-
    • Could you elaborate?

      What does the average user do that this cannot accomplish?
      Michael Alan Goff
      • run apps

        Run a variety of apps instead of just candid ones.
        Loverock Davidson-
        • Okay

          What apps do most people use?

          Come on, we're getting somewhere.
          Michael Alan Goff
    • Dumbrock D.

      hey, you can also buy a 499$ Windows RT Surface and you have much more limitations! Even not a keyboard ! And the crappy Internet Explorer !
      Watchmen247
  • The did an absolute fantastic job

    At stealing the Windows 7 user experience.
    adacosta38