Now that Chrome OS lets you access Android apps from the Google Play store, you're going to be seeing a lot more Chromebooks with touchscreens. Samsung's Chromebook Plus and Chromebook Pro, which start at $449, go even further by including a pen and enhanced multitasking capabilities.
I had a chance to go hands-on with the two new convertibles at CES 2017, and they're pretty impressive little machines if you're willing to pay a premium.
Pen on Board
The Chromebook Pro and Chromebook Plus are slick 12.3-inch laptops that double as tablets, with a full metal design that weighs just 2.4 pounds. They include a pen that pops out of the right side of the system, letting you take notes with Google Keep and other apps in the Google Play store. The app is smart enough to recognize characters, so you can search through your handwritten notes afterwords.
The digitized pen will work with other apps as well, whether it's for sketching or drawing. However, I found that the pen didn't write as smoothly as the S Pen on Samsung's Galaxy Note 7 (RIP.) Samsung includes other pen utilities, such as a magnify feature, digital laser pointer and the ability to capture screenshots.
Quad HD Screen, Two CPU Options
The Chromebook Plus is powered by an ARM processor, while the Pro offers an Intel Core m3 chip. Both convertibles come with 4GB of RAM and 32GB of storage. Samsung says users can expect 8 hours of battery life.
The two Samsung Chromebooks offer a quad HD (2400 x 1600) pixel screen made with Gorilla Glass 3. Interestingly, the display has a 3:2 aspect ratio, which makes it feel more natural in the crook of your arm when being used as a tablet.
In terms of ports, you get two USB-C ones, as well as a microSD card slot.
Samsung added another feature to the Chromebook Plus and Pro, and that's a button in the bottom right corner of the screen that activates a multi-window feature. This makes it easy to work on multiple apps at the same time, as opposed to switching between tabs.
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Pricing and Availability
The ARM-powered Chromebook Plus starts at $449 and will be available in February through major retailers, such as Best Buy. The more powerful Core m3-fueled Chromebook Pro will be available this spring.
While the two notebooks are on the pricey side, the premium design, pen capability and multitasking abilities of the Chromebook Plus and Pro make them stand out. We look forward to putting these convertibles through their paces.