Have you noticed lately that many laptops’ screens are almost as big as desktop monitors? No doubt you can find a small and lightweight one, but some of the least expensive laptops are huge. I went searching for lighter and slimmer solutions for the mobile small business owner. The Samsung Chromebook offers an interesting option and is the focus of this review. Samsung provided a 30-day loaner unit for this review.
If you’re not familiar with the new Chromebooks, you may find this review interesting and these machines a good alternative to more powerful, and expensive, computers. The Chromebook is a laptop that runs only the Chrome browser from Google. That’s it. No operating system of any type that you may have seen before. It starts up in 8 seconds-yes, only 8 seconds.
The closest device I’ve seen to rival its weight, speed and design is the MacBook Air. However, before the Mac community flips out, let me say the Chromebook is clearly not a MacBook Air. But if you live your life in Web applications for the most part, then this device may save you money and save your back from toting larger laptops.
What I really like:
- Light and fast. Did I already mention that?
- WiFi but also 3G access (free 2-year 100Mb per month plan from Verizon, then based on a pay-as-you-go option).
- Multiple user profiles so your employees can just grab it and start working. I could see a bunch of these stacked in a warehouse or in a place like thinkspace, which is a shared office environment for entrepreneurs.
- Up to 8.5 hours of continuous use. Granted, that’s because you are running a browser and no traditional apps, but that rivals an iPad with a separate keyboard.
What I’d like to see:
- A little bit more work on the keyboard and mouse. The mouse / touchpad was sometimes a little jerky. Daniel Rexin, ultra-tech savvy and someone I trust to tell me what works and what doesn’t, posted a Chromebook review recently (he identifies the same challenge on the mousepad, but adds a bit more detail).
- A bit of work to make Chrome more user-friendly as an OS – you can download PDFs and files, but it isn’t easy to figure out how to get to them. This is not a Samsung Chromebook issue, by the way, so no criticism of them here. Chrome as an operating system is disorienting until you realize, and let it sink in, that it’s all you have. It takes a few minutes to wrap your head around.
Many small businesses don’t need more than a browser-based solution. The Samsung Chromebook is a solid contender for your technology purchase budget. With the many, many apps on Google’s marketplace, you can run your business from the Web.
With prices starting around $429 (at publication time), you get a device that rivals the more powerful netbooks on the market (less power, less cost), minus the full-scale OS and traditional apps. Like everything in business today, in my humble opinion, you have to take a closer look at why and how you operate your company.
Do you need to spend $1,000-plus on a simple laptop? Do you need a more powerful desktop? It’s fine if you do, but the options exist to reduce costs with machines like these.
Learn more about the Samsung Chromebook.