The first impression in short (TL;DR)
The Samsung 11” Chromebook is a solid, cheap and lightweight device to get work done while being on the go.
How it all came to be
I work alot while I’m on the road - be it commuting on the bus or travelling around on a train or airplane.
During these times I am usually programming (mostly using lightweight or browser-based tools), writing blog posts (like this one) or preparing a slide deck.
I was still searching for a cheap, slightly smaller and lighter device to do those rather simple tasks and when I travelled to London, I decided to go into a store and get my hands on the 11” Chromebooks from HP and Samsung. Surprisingly the Samsung one convinced me more with its overall impression - so I bought one - and herein I give you an overview of my experience with it, sitting in an airplane heading home.
After unwrapping it and plugging in the charger, I was suprised that it was fully uncharged but claimed to be fully charged within the next 40 minutes. And it was!
That initial plus was overthrown by the setup, that needed a WiFi connection but had trouble working with the “Sign-In” of the wireless network at London Heathrow, so I had trouble setting it up, but the guest mode allowed me to properly surf the net instantly.
The next minor quirk was the initial tour application not responding to my inputs at all - but I can live with that.
There’s an app for that!
I believe in the web as being a powerful platform, so I was looking forward to trying out the many apps from the Chrome Web Store.
I was looking for a decent Markdown editor with a live preview feature, as that’s the way I enjoy writing my blog posts the most - and I found Poe. As my IDE of choice, I picked Cloud9 and after a couple of minutes I was ready to go.
My biggest worry was, that the apps may not work without an internet connection, but flying back just now while writing this post proves that it indeed did work offline.
The great thing: I’m not missing any application and if I ever will, I could write that app using my beloved stack of web technologies;
How working on the Chromebook feels
The keyboard feels good and has decent spacing, sizing and feedback, the only thing that I may miss is the backlight I am used to on my Macbook.
The 11” screen is the perfect size for me, providing enough screen space to work and being comfortably sized for carrying it around. The brightness and view angle are sufficient - even this writing session along with my experients, for a bit over 2 hours now, aren’t a problem.
The case seems pretty sturdy but definitely has a plastic touch to it, the camera is pretty good and the Chromebook starts up in a couple of seconds and the battery - according to the system panel, should last for around 6 hours, maybe 5 with WiFi turned on.
Only the WiFi gave the impression to have a tendency to be a bit flaky at times.