The new Chromebook boasts an 11.6-in. 1366 x 768 display. That's slightly smaller than the 12.1-in. 1280 x 800 displays on the previous Chromebook models, but at a glance, it's hard to tell much of a difference. The screen certainly isn't the most eye-catching, high-def display you've ever seen, but with its matte finish, it's easy on the eyes and perfectly suited for things like Web browsing, email and document-oriented work.
Feels great to use
The Chrome OS keyboard has been a standout feature of Chromebooks from the start, and this latest model is no exception. The new Samsung Chromebook utilizes the same chiclet-style keyboard used in past devices; the keys are well spaced, responsive and a pleasure to type on. As far as I'm concerned, the Chromebook keyboard provides about the best laptop typing experience you can find today.
And like its predecessors, it's been customized with numerous keys specific to the Chrome OS environment. In place of the function keys typically present on the top row of a Windows system, for example, the Chromebook has keys for such functions as navigating forward or backward in the browser, refreshing a page, toggling between windows and adjusting the device's display brightness. In place of the caps-lock key, it has a search key that brings up a universal search box and list of available applications. (You can opt to remap the key to a more traditional caps-lock function if you want.)
The new Chromebook's trackpad is no less impressive: It's smooth and responsive, with accurate motion and support for a range of one- and two-fingered gestures. Swiping in any direction with two fingers, for instance, scrolls up, down, left or right on a page. Pressing anywhere on the trackpad with one finger left-clicks, and pressing with two performs a right-click command.
Surprisingly good performance -- to a point
When I first saw the specs of the new Samsung Chromebook, I was a bit worried about how it would perform. It has only 2GB of RAM -- the same as the first-gen Chromebook, which had a tendency to get bogged down and pokey when you had multiple tabs open or conducted any significant multitasking. (The more expensive 550 model has 4GB RAM and does not suffer from these issues.)