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Samsung Chromebook 2: Stylish Design, Octa-Core Power, Premium Price

As Chromebooks become more popular, OEMs are rolling out increasingly-premium designs like the Toshiba CB35-A3120 Chromebook. Hoping to cash in on the trend, Samsung is rolling out the Chromebook 2 series. Available in 11.6 and 13.3-inch varieties priced at $319 and $399 respectively, the new laptops promise longer battery life and more power with a stylish design.

Design

The lid of each Chromebook 2 is swathed in faux leather material similar to that used on the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 and the Note Pro 12.2, but with a slightly more textured surface. The inlaid Chrome emblem adds a welcome pop of color to the presentation while the silver chrome Samsung logo gives a nice touch of bling. The 11.6-inch model will be available in white and black while the 13.3-inch will only ship in silver.  

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At 2.43 pounds, 11.4 x 8.06 x 0.66-inches and 3.09 pounds, 12.72 x 8.8 x 0.65-inches, the 11 and 13 Chromebook 2 laptops are slimmer than most of the competition including the  Toshiba CB35-A3120 Chromebook (3.3 pounds, 12.9 x 8.9 x 0.8 inches), HP Pavilion 14 Chromebook (3.8 pounds, 13.66 x 9.7 x 0.83 inches) and Acer Chromebook C720P (2.98 pounds, 11.34 x 8.03 x 0.78 inches).

Specs

The 11.6-inch Chromebook 2 features a 1366 x 768 LED display, a 1.9-GHz Samsung Exynos 5 octa-core processor with 4GB of RAM. a 16GB eMMC Flash Drive. The 13.3-inch version has a few more bells and whistles including a 1920 x 1080 LED panel and a 2.1-GHz Samsung Exynos 5 octa-core BPU with 4GB of RAM. Similar to its little brother, it has 16GB eMMC Flash Drive. While both displays delivered bright, vibrant color, the 13.3-inch screen had clearer, crisper images.

According to Samsung, the notebooks are the first to have Google Hangout certification and  have dual-array mics and 720p cameras to deliver a seamless video conferencing experience.

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As for ports, the Chromebook 2 has a port for USB 3.0, USB 2.0 and HDMI. A microSD reader, combination headphone/microphone jack and DC jack can also be found along the sides of the laptop. In an effort to provide a more comfortable typing experience, Samsung has revamped the keyboard, using the same curved key design featured on the upcoming Samsung ATIV Book 9 2014 Edition. During our short demo, the keys cupped our fingers slightly while giving us firm, springy feedback.

When it ships in April, Samsung is claiming 8 hours of battery life for the 11.6-inch Chromebook 2 and 8.5 hours for the larger version. 

Software

The Chromebook 2 just wouldn't be a Samsung product without some exclusive software. To that end, the company is bundling the Chromebook 2 with 1-year of premium service from AirDroid and Wunderlist. An Android device manager app, AirDroid lets users access their Android devices from a web browser over a local Wi-Fi network. That means users can make calls, send and receive texts and access their smartphone's apps from the Chromebook. Wunderlist shares and manages to-do lists in real time.

Available in April for $319 and $399, the 11.6-inch and 13-inch Chromebook 2 might be just the laptop for students and mobile professionals alike.