Solid performance; Professional, comfortable design; Responsive touchpad
Small keyboard; Limited app selection; 1366 x 768p screen isn't the best
Samsung's updated 11-inch Chromebook 2 now has a more powerful Intel Celeron processor, but it suffers from a lackluster display.
When it debuted earlier this year, the 13-inch Samsung Chromebook 2 impressed with its sexy faux-leather design and full-HD display. Too bad its Exynos processor wasn't up to snuff, even for Chromebooks, and its $399 price was a bit steep. The latest Chromebook 2 retains its predecessor's design, but this more affordable $249 model sports a smaller 11-inch screen and a faster 2.58-GHz Intel Celeron N2840 processor, promising better performance. Has Samsung improved its Chromebook 2 in all the right places?
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From the outside, the Samsung Chromebook 2 hasn't really changed from its bigger brother. It has the same faux-leather encased body with stitching around the edges, giving it a portfolio-esque, professional look. The keyboard deck and bezel of the new Chromebook 2 are shiny silver and smooth, and the island-style keys are black and ever-so-slightly textured.
The Chromebook 2's 11.40 x 8.60 x 0.66-inch body weighs just 2.65 pounds, making it super easy to carry around with you to meetings or while traveling. It's only slightly heavier than the Acer Chromebook C720 (2.6 pounds and 11.34 x 8.03 x 0.75 inches), but much heavier than the superlight HP Chromebook 11 (2.2 pounds and 11.7 x 7.6 x 0.7 inches).
Keyboard & Touchpad
On the TypingTestOnline.org challenge, I averaged 62 words per minute with 16 mistakes, which is nowhere near my usual average of 90 words per minute. I found it difficult to type on this Chromebook for long periods of time.
Fortunately, the Samsung Chromebook 2's 3.9 x 2.3-inch touchpad was responsive and comfortable to use; the cursor reacted to my movements swiftly.
On the sRGB color gamut test, which measures color reproduction performance, the Samsung Chromebook 2 scored 59.1 percent. It didn't produce accurate colors, either, with a Delta E score of 10.5 (0 is a perfect score). Still, the Acer Chromebook 13 (58.1 percent sRGB, with 11.4 Delta E) and the Dell Chromebook 11 (61 percent sRGB, with 11.7 Delta E) were all in the same ballpark.
The Samsung Chromebook 2 scored an average of 163 lux on our brightness scale -- brighter than the Acer Chromebook C720 (123 lux), yet dimmer than the Acer Chromebook 13 (205) and the HP Chromebook 11 (218 lux).
Louder doesn't necessarily mean better. On the Laptop Mag Audio Test, the new Samsung Chromebook 2 registered 91 decibels -- the same as the Acer Chromebook 13 but higher than the Acer Chromebook C720 (85 dB) and the HP Chromebook 11 (82 dB).
However, when I played Calvin Harris' "Blame," the entire background of the track sounded scratchy. His vocals were fairly clear, but the rest of the music and beats were not. I had to turn the volume down to about 50 percent for the audio to be less harsh.
Ports & Webcam
The Chromebook 2's 720p webcam is on a par with other Chromebook webcams. It takes decent yet grainy selfies.
The Chromebook 2 is one cool-running ultraportable. After streaming Hulu for 15 minutes, the Samsung Chromebook 2's underside reached 89 degrees Fahrenheit, which is below our 95-degree Fahrenheit threshold. The touchpad remained even cooler, at 75.5 degrees, and the space between the G and H keys reached 79.5 degrees.
Samsung is trying out a beta feature within Google Help that connects you to a Samsung support representative who can answer users' Chromebook and Chrome OS questions. To access Google Help, type "Chrome:help" into the address bar of the Chrome browser, and a Settings page will pop up, asking you to "Get help with using Chrome OS." Once you click that option, the Help app will download immediately and show you a Google Chrome Help window with topics broken down into categories like Getting Online, App Replacements, Managing Apps, Printing, and Using the Web.
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If you cannot find the answer to your question in these categories, you can video chat with a Samsung representative for more help. Samsung claims reps will be available Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. ET. However, when I tested this at 11 a.m. ET and again at 2:20 p.m. on a Friday, no representatives were available.
Offline Experience & Desktop Apps
Chrome OS is largely limited by Wi-Fi connectivity. There are some apps available for offline use -- including Angry Birds, Evernote and Vine -- but most require an Internet connection to work properly, or at all. Google Docs will work offline, but you have to first go into your Drive settings to allow it to sync your documents in order to edit without an Internet connection.
The Celeron processor booted Chrome OS in a quick 9 seconds. That's not as fast as the Acer Chromebook C720 (7 seconds), which features a 1.4-GHz Intel Celeron 2955U processor with Haswell architecture, or the Nvidia Tegra K1 processor-powered Acer Chromebook 13 (7 seconds), but it's faster than the HP Chromebook 11 (11 seconds), which uses a 1.7-GHz dual-core Exynos processor.
On the Peacekeeper test, which measures browser performance, the Chromebook 2 scored 1,643, which is better than the Acer Chromebook 13 (1,244) and the HP Chromebook 11 (1,134) but not as good as the Acer Chromebook C720 (2,955).
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We also used the OortOnline.Gl test to measure how well the Samsung Chromebook 2 could handle a WebGL-based game. It scored 1,380, which was almost a third of the Acer Chromebook 13's score of 3,690.
The Samsung Chromebook 2 outlasted its competition in the endurance department, clocking in 7 hours and 50 minutes on the Laptop Mag Battery Test (Web surfing via Wi-Fi).
You'll be able to complete nearly a full workday on this Chromebook, and it was only bested by the Acer Chromebook 13's battery life of 8 hours and 8 minutes. The Acer Chromebook C720 was about 1.5 hours behind (6:25), and the HP Chromebook 11 (3:16) wasn't even close.
The Samsung Chromebook 2 costs $249 and comes with a 2.58-GHz Intel Celeron N2840 processor, equipped with a 1MB L2 cache, 2GB of RAM, 16GB of storage, and a 11.6-inch, 1366 x 768p display.
A more powerful Intel Celeron processor definitely makes the $249 11-inch Samsung Chromebook 2 faster than its 13-inch brother. I also liked the leatherlike design and responsive touchpad, but there's still room for improvement. The Chromebook 2's keyboard feels somewhat cramped, and the display doesn't offer vibrant colors or very much brightness.
The 11-inch, Core i3-powered Acer C720 is faster but pricier, at $349. And if you prefer a bigger screen, you can pick up the fast 13-inch, Nvidia Tegra K1-powered Acer Chromebook 13 for $279. However, the Samsung Chromebook 2 looks as elegant as ever, and with nearly 8 hours of battery life, it's a good fit for students and other shoppers who need a light and portable system for all-day use.
|CPU||2.58GHz Intel Celeron N2840 processor|
|Operating System||Google Chrome|
|RAM Upgradable to|
|Hard Drive Size||16GB|
|Hard Drive Speed|
|Hard Drive Type|
|Secondary Hard Drive Size|
|Secondary Hard Drive Speed|
|Secondary Hard Drive Type|
|Optical Drive Speed|
|Graphics Card||Intel HD Graphics|
|Ports (excluding USB)||HDMI|
|Ports (excluding USB)||USB 3.0|
|Ports (excluding USB)||USB 2.0|
|Size||11.40 x 8.60 x 0.66 inches|