Samsung Chromebook Pro Review

The Samsung Chromebook Pro launch is the first time in a LONG time I’ve been excited for a new piece of technology. Sure, there’s  the fun of unboxing a new smartphone, laptop or smartwatch. There’s the uncertainty of how a device like Google Home, the Nest family of devices or even a Bluetooth speaker will work or sound. But nothing is comparing to the restlessness I’ve been experiencing waiting for the Samsung Chromebook Pro to arrive.

The Chromebook Pro got announced back in February 2017 along with a Chromebook Plus. They are essentially the same device, with a better processor and a fancy black color for the Plus… and $100 more. The Plus came out as expected in March, but the Pro was given a soft launch of “April 2017.” April came and went, articles went up blasting Samsung for missing the launch… then most of May went by. Finally, Samsung announced it would be selling the device online at Amazon, Best Buy and a few other online locations on May 28, 2017. Of course, by the time I looked at Amazon it was gone and none of the other places even had it listed on their sites.

So I waited, and waited, and waited… until it surfaced (see what I did there?) on BestBuy.com for the promised price of $549. I couldn’t purchase it fast enough, and thought it would be delivered in time for the weekend, which didn’t happen. So I waited some more… and then all day Monday until it finally showed up around 4:30pm!

So I used it the rest of the day, and even typed this review on the Chromebook Pro the next day, and here’s what I found.

Samsung Chromebook Pro – The Good

Thinking about purchasing the Samsung Chromebook Pro? Here’s some reasons why you should!

  • Weight – Not the other wait; that was bad. But this thing is LIGHT! With the Chromebook Pro I’m replacing a Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 tablet and an Asus TP300L laptop. Both were noticeably heavier (especially with a case on the Note 10.1) and much bulkier than the Chromebook Pro.
  • Android Apps on the Chromebook – Probably THE most impressive move forward, and frankly what held it back on the release, is the ability to install and run Android apps on the Chromebook Pro. I love Typemail for email, I use Google Voice and Hangouts for calls and SMS messages, OneNote for notes, and more and instead of having to do everything inside the browser, now I can install apps I’m used to using on my tablet and phone to do these things and more.
  • Battery Life – Samsung claims over 10 hours of battery, but with real use I’m seeing closer to 8. Considering I was getting about 3 on my Asus laptop, and about 6 on the Note 10.1, I’ll take eight hours. On the flip side, the battery charges amazingly fast using the USB-C power adapter.
  • Speed – With only a 2.2gHz processor, I wasn’t expecting the Chromebook Pro to be overly snappy. But no matter how many apps I opened, media I had running, browser windows I had up on Chrome, I never really saw any lag.
  • Screen – The screen is incredibly bright, incredibly clear and even with small text, incredibly crisp. It is a little weird with the 4:3 ratio instead of the now-common 16:9, but that took moments to get used to. The bezel around the screen was slightly larger than I expected with Samsung’s journey into infinity screens on their S8 phones, but with the black case is less noticeable than with a silver or grey case.
  • Convertible Screen – The screen flips around a full 360 degrees to convert the Chromebook to a full Android tablet. Reading books, Texture magazines, websites and other media was a great experience, and watching video had stunning video, ok audio (fixed with earbuds), but did lose a little with the 4:3 ratio (see below).
  • S-Pen – Apple has then Pencil, Microsoft has their Surface Pen, but the S-Pen available for not taking and drawing on Samsung devices is still the best electronic pen that I’ve used.

Samsung Chromebook Pro – The Bad

Some of the features on the Chromebook Pro are not spectacular, but not a big deal in my mind. Below are a few things that probably won’t either move you in one direction or the other if you’re thinking about purchasing the Pro.

  • Keyboard Size – The keyboard is a bit small, but the keys have decent travel and everything is there, although the backspace key is slightly undersized and if you like to “scream” on social media, there’s no dedicated caps lock.
  • Ports – The only available ports on the device are two USB-C connectors, a headphone jack, and a micro-SD card reader. So if you’re the type that connects multiple devices you will need a USB-C to USB hub. Personally I connect through BT or WI-FI in most cases, so not a bid deal.
  • Speakers – There was a lot of discussion of the speakers located under the case and the sound not being very loud. I am either using external speakers or earbuds, so for me, again not a big deal. If you are serious about your sound on mobile devices, I still suggest a BT speaker.
  • Fingerprints and Other Marks – The black case looks great, but it does get a little marked up easily, and of course the touch screen can hold fingerprints so keep it clean!
  • Apps Resizing – Not all Android apps are able to be resized and some are limited to phone size only. I’m currently looking for a way to install tablet version of some of my favorite apps like Scribblepost and others, but for now I’ll just use the browser version.

Samsung Chromebook Pro – The Ugly

Looking for a reason to NOT buy the Chromebook Pro? Here’s a couple that will hopefully be addressed shortly and become a totally non-issue.

  • Apps Not Recognizing SD Card – I’m a mobile DJ, I listen to lots of podcasts, and as a website programmer I like to have the ability to backup and retrieve website files on storage devices. So when I found out that my apps couldn’t find the SD card to play music, podcasts and even my Dropbox folder, I was a little put off. I’m sure it will get fixed, but with only 32GB of onboard memory, it seems a little odd for the device not to recognize the SD as acceptable storage.
  • 32GB of Onboard Memory – Considering my first Windows desktop had a “massive” 2GB HDD it seems odd to complain the Chromebook Pro only has 32GB of onboard space. When apps start natively seeing the 128GB SD card I have in the device this will be a totally non-issue, but as it stands now I’m not a fan of the smaller hard drive.
  • Reports of Apps Crashing – There are some reports of the Chromebook Pro crashing when a fair amount of apps and browser windows are active. I have not seen this, in fact, as I type this post I have 10+ browser windows open, TypeMail, OneNote, PocketCasts (playing a podcast), Hootsuite and one more app running with no issues. If it becomes more common for apps to crash the device this is a very real issue, but for me it’s not.

I plan on using the Samsung Chromebook Pro as my daily machine for a few days, with the exception of recording my podcast and maybe a few other things. So as I find more benefits and issues I will make sure to document them here.

Thinking about purchasing the Chromebook Pro? It’s listed on Amazon here for the standard price of $549 (same everywhere else), but at the time of this post was sold out. I’m sure more are on the way.

Looking to save a few bucks but get many of the same benefits minus some computing power? Try the Samsung Chromebook Plus for $449.

Samsung Chromebook Pro Amazon

Some of the Chromebook Pro specs

  • 11.1 in x 8.7 in x 0.5 in
  • 2.38 lbs
  • 12.3 LED Backlight Screen (2400 x 1600 resolution)
  • Intel Core m3 (6th Gen) 6Y30 / 0.9 GHz Dual Core
  • RAM – 4GB DDR3L SDRAM
  • 32 GB SSD – (eMMC)
  • 720p Front Facing Camera
  • Bluetooth 4.0, 802.11a/b/g/n/ac
  • 2 x USB-C Headphone/microphone combo jack
  • MicroSD Card Reader