Samsung’s Chromebook Pro Nudges Deeper Into Windows Territory

Posted on October 15, 2016 by Brad Sams in Hardware with 64 Comments

chrome-book-hero

Typically, when you think of a Chromebook, it’s an entry level device with low-end specs. While there have been higher end models like the Pixel (no, not that one), generally the devices are entry-level products with a price point to match the specs.

Samsung, in the very near future, is going to be releasing a device it calls the Chromebook Pro and its specs, while not top notch, are no slouch either. The device is looking to be an all metal laptop that’s only .55 inches thick, has a 360-degree rotating screen running at 2400×1600, 2GHz ARM processor, 32GB of storage (microSD card slot to expand storage) battery life of up to 10 hours at a price of $499. Obviously, the weak point in this setup is the CPU but even ARM processors these days are adequate for basic tasks.

One unique thing about this Chromebook is that it has a pen docked inside the device that allows you to draw on the screen in a way similar to the Surface. That being said, Surface devices still have a higher quality screen and better pen input mechanics but in a pinch, this new Chromebook could fill the void for a low-cost drawing tablet.

This new device, which will go up for pre-order soon, was spotted by Chromeunboxed who was able to dig up the specs and the images of this new laptop.

chromebook-hero-2When you couple the fact that Chromebooks are slowly creeping up in specs while keeping low-ish price points and that Android app support on the desktop is becoming a reality, these devices do become a viable option for those who need a simple computer for accomplishing basic tasks.

I know some will instantly assume that I am insinuating that Windows is doomed and that Chromebooks are the future; not in the slightest. A Windows machine at this same price point would likely have better performance but battery life and other specs would be about the same. What’s interesting to watch is how Windows has a new competitor and it’s not going away anytime soon.

Will Chromebooks ever completely take over the Windows market? No, that won’t happen, but for the simple user who wants a machine for email, Facebook and a few other light use cases, Chromebooks are a viable option and this should be a concern for not only Microsoft but also Intel.

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Comments (70)

70 responses to “Samsung’s Chromebook Pro Nudges Deeper Into Windows Territory”

  1. Avatar

    5539

    It's interesting that the iPad Pro supports a pen(cil). And now the Chromebook Pro suports a, (wait for it), pen. Guess MS was right. Pro's know how to write. Artists have advanced beyond fingerpainting. Engineers and architects draw things. Even if it is just sketches before they rely on technical drafting programs. Bill Gates wandered around with a pen based computer over a decade ago. Surfaces have always supported, and often shipped with a pen. Why the hell we don't have a tablet sized Surface, or a Windows Phone that supports ink is beyond me.

  2. Avatar

    5530

    The fact that Chrome OS runs on both ARM and Intel gives the OEMs so much additional flexibility, even if ARM doesn't have the performance, it has the price advantage, and it feels like it's only a matter of time before consumers see value in the price-to-performance ratio the OEMs are putting out with these ARM machines. Is it just me? I dunno. But i'm inching towards getting a chromebook myself because i've heard good things about them, and now that nice hardware is here, I feel like it's a good time to close my curiousity gap by getting a chromebook.

    • Avatar

      5485

      In reply to FalseAgent:

      ARM has the performance not the spec if you know what I mean. I have a Surface Pro 3 Core i7 and runs Lightroom slugishly as after 20 second it starts throtling like a Troll. It has the spec to run something demanding like Lightroom or Photoshop properly but not the overall design. I can tell you this, an with an iPad Pro (ARM) you can edit photos in the same sophisticated ways as LR and faster than in my Surface Pro 3. I'm not making it up!!!!!!! I wish that could be the case.

      This chromebook don't know.

      • Avatar

        5530

        In reply to nbplopes:

        not sure what you mean, but if you mean the SOC design is what's helping ARM, I really doubt it. And I believe ARM machines do throttling too, it's just that Apple's processor has amazing single-core performance, which is why you get those unique abilities of the iPad. Stuff like video editing are pretty much single threaded workloads. Other ARM machines, including the Exynos Samsung is using in this chromebook, are going to have to just suck thumb while they catch up.

  3. Avatar

    229

    Any sign of smoke?

  4. Avatar

    3216

    I'm not enamored of anything that depends on an internet connection to work, but that's not to say that there is not a place for something like a Chromebook. But I'm not entirely sure what that place is.

    For many here, we have Windows programs that we must have access to so we could never use something like a Chromebook alone.

    For many here, something like Google Docs is just not going to cut it, and while there does seem to be a way to run a version of LibreOffice on a Chromebook it is apparently rather akward.

    So, that leaves us web browsing, email, social media, and some apps - which sounds a lot like what I use an iPad for.  The problem with pushing the price of a Chromebook up into this region is that you are into iPad pricing and the established base of iPad apps dwarfs what's available for a Chromebook.  That's going to be a tough slope to climb.

    • Avatar

      5234

      In reply to gsmith-plm:

      An iPad is a tablet that runs tablet apps.  A Chromebook is a (mostly productivity) laptop built for cloud apps.  A convertible Chromebook can run Android apps as good as any Android tablet (probably better, considering there are no new Android tablets shipping, so the new Chromebooks are picking up the new ARM chips).  An iPad makes for a poor laptop (for the rich).  What Apple considers a "productivity iPad" is the iPad Pro, which is twice the price of most good Chromebooks once you add a keyboard.

       

      Companies looking at adopting Chromebooks should approach it as they usually do: virtualize applications and run them on a server, or convert them to cloud applications.  Any mainstream company should already be doing this, so these become thin clients for them.  I don't know any enterprise companies that aren't already using cloud and/or virtualized applications for their main work fleet.  Chromebooks support VMware and Citrix virtualization platforms out of the box -- they don't need Android support for that either.

      Maintenance on Chromebooks is basically nil.  As with most systems, if it breaks, you fix it under warranty or replace it.  You don't need to service the OS at all.  Windows, OTOH, well, anyone in IT will tell you that it's far more complicated to maintain.  Management of Chromebooks is done via a web console with nothing to install, and they don't depend on complicated AD-style directory services for management.

      • Avatar

        5027

        In reply to Waethorn: Windows is not hard at all to maintain. AD is not complicated, and I dont know what IT departments you have been talking to but it seems they dont really know what their doing.
        how do you maintain a Chromebook with an onsite server solution .. o yes,, you dont. 
        Chromebooks is no even on the map for enterprises that handle customer data. If there is a cloud solution to pick it would be AWS or Azure, you would harldy put any internal data on a server google have access to .  WMWare and Citrix?  Why would you buy a substandard computer in a Chromebook then pay high licens fees so you can do what you could do anyway if you just bought a windows computer? But with a Chromebook you can only do it if you are connected to the Internet ... and you can only maintain the Chromebooks through Google , not with an on-site solution at all.   And that is not counting re-training all employees and change a lot of internal infastructure to do a change that would not improve anything. 
        Anyone in IT will tell you ChromeBooks is a joke.. unless you only do IT for consumers, that like to play CandyCrush 
        I know a lot of companies that use virtualization, that is hardly new technology, but not that many use Cloud solutions, unless it is an inhouse only cloud solution . There is a reason Hybrid solutions is a so important .  Big companies can not do what ever with their data, they need to make sure they have control over it.  so they might use some Cloud , but a lot is on own servers they control . Then they might store images, manuals and other things they want to have public on AWS or similar. 
        There is also a reason why a lot of companies that started adopting iPad's in th past is moving away from it, unless it is for sales personel that just need a mobile simple point and sale solution, and iPad is at least easy to maintain and lock down.  Chromebooks depend on google ,and since Google is hardly dependable, and they are starting to mix ChromeOS and Android  and no one really knows what will happen with it in the next year .. is Andromeda a thing or will it be another cancelled failed project? it is hardly a safe bet for a long term solution for an Enterprise that plan 5 - 10 years a head.  Is it anything companies know, you cant really count on Google or a solution from them, so dont build up anything important around it .   

         

  5. Avatar

    1377

    If I could only justify buying another Chromebook, you have me at the 3:2 aspect ratio. I don't watch movies on laptops, and 16:9 sucks for everything I do want/need to do on a laptop. If only the PC world provided any choice in this respect.

  6. Avatar

    185

    Cloud goes down apps go boom.  I know that Google does have offline mode for some of their productivity but nothing like full blown office on a Surface Pro will meet my needs.

    • Avatar

      1377

      In reply to RonV42:

      You're not going to get full Windows desktop office running well on an ARM-based machine, so this definitely isn't for you.

      OTOH, install crouton, and it may be adequate as a disconnected Linux machine. Still no MSFT Office, though.

  7. Avatar

    5486

    Well, compared to the Surface Pro's, you can be assured of a few things from the Chromebook Pro;

    It will be reliable

    It will be quick (even with ARM). Perfectly quick enough for most tasks

    Updates will be seamless, and won't break things

    It will probably be able to run Andromeda

    Because MS don't have anything to do with it, they can't muck it up

     

  8. Avatar

    5641

    This is where the portable computing devices comes of age. You carry around a small device that is the processor and a small amount of local storage. You drop the device into some sort of dock and use the keyboard, mouse and monitor together with local print (if needed). You lift the device out and move on. This should mean that anywhere you go (someone's house, business, airports etc) - you'll see combination screens/ docks / keyboard and mice.

    Perhaps this device could have a small screen and maybe even take phone calls.

    Oh wait - isn't this called Continuum?

  9. Avatar

    1561

    I suggest Samsung choose a new default wallpaper for their devices. ;)

    Melted Galaxy Note 7

  10. Avatar

    5234

    I'd like to see the comparison of this ARM chip vs. what's in the Acer Chromebook R 13.  The Acer uses a Mediatek.  Benchmarks put it at the same approximate performance level of between a Braswell Celeron and Pentium, but the Pentium and quad-core Celerons are fan-cooled and have a higher TDP AFAIK, so you need bigger batteries to get the roughly 10 hour runtime.  The Acer looks similarly svelte, but doesn't include stylus input.  There will be other models from ASUS as well, including a purported detachable 2-in-1.  All of the major manufacturers have new models coming.  Chrome Story is monitoring new codenames like a sleuth every day.

  11. Avatar

    5639

    Interesting device, but I am not touching a chromebook till google clarifies this upcoming mash-up of chrome and android called andromeda.  

    I have no stomach to by a 500 dollar thin client that could become useless because google decided to change directions yet again 

  12. Avatar

    4295

    Does anyone know how well mobile android apps like the entire office suite would scale as an android app running on Chrome? It will be a shame if after all the effort put into the UWP... If Google ends up beating them to the same end goal. Seems like given the way Android normally goes, it'll be a long time before people with a Chromebook will have much else to use other than a portrait oriented Android app on their laptop. I may be mistaken though, hopefully for Microsoft's sake it isn't pulled off very eloquently.

    • Avatar

      5234

      In reply to Plumbobby:

      Lots of Android apps already scale properly.  Anything from Google or Microsoft (except for Sprightly) scale to landscape tablet-like dimensions.  They all have "Responsive UI".

      • Avatar

        4295

        In reply to Waethorn:

        So basically Android already has UWP apps? Like how the mail app actually scales in functionality as well as fitting the screen?

        • Avatar

          5234

          In reply to Plumbobby:

          Yup.  Remember that many apps for phones and tablets run on limited resolution devices, and not every Chromebook has a high-DPI screen, so they would naturally scale well anyway.  The Gmail app for Android works great on a Chromebook, much like Outlook Mail on Continuum, but of course the web version is fast and supports offline capability and has more functionality too, so you can decide if you want a touch-optimized tablet-y app or a web version with added functionality.  Personally, I like the web versions of most of the Google apps.  I'm not keen on Microsoft stripping their web versions of Office down over what's available in their mobile versions though.  I like how Google approaches cloud computing moreso than how Microsoft restricts cloud computing in favour of their legacy Win32 environment.

        • Avatar

          399

          In reply to Plumbobby:

          One of the main reasons for creating Material Design was app scaling.

  13. Avatar

    3884

    I don't understand why pen input isn't standard on all Windows devices now - a Windows version of this (at the same price point) would be great!

    But yeah, these devices are the future. I was having a conversation with a fellow teacher the other day about how right now I'm teaching kids using Windows, but by the time they graduate in five years - iOS and Android will probably be just as viable options for everything we do on Windows today - and they'll have the massive modern developer support that Windows desperately lacks right now

    It's an odd future to think about really...

     

    But 32GB? Still? Really? Sigh...

  14. Avatar

    5510

    Brad said "A Windows machine at this same price point would likely have better performance..."  No, that's not true. Oh Please! Performance is subjective POV.  Can Chromebooks take over the Windows Market? YEAH...are you kidding me?  Android is now the dominating OS in the world and now they are penetrating the desktop space. With Google advancing in machine learning and Chome OS/Android/Andromeda being the easiest OS to use....YEAH, they can take over marketshare from Windows. 

    The fact of the matter is this: for the average person, Windows is HARD.  Chromebooks are easier. That's the overall perception of the public in the real world. 

  15. Avatar

    562

    I actually ordered one from adorama.com/ before the page was taken down.  They gave me the option of cancelling my order because the item is not in stock. Should I cancel?

    I love thelittle chromebook I have but it is older and will not be able to handle the Android apps. I also have windows computer & dual boot with ubuntu.

  16. Avatar

    1217

    This... is actually a REALLY nice device!  I'm rocking a Surface Book, so, yeah, probably not going to buy one for myself, but I'm fully willing to say that it looks like Samsung did a REALLY nice job on this thing!  I can see this selling better than most Chrome OS devices that have been released so far.

  17. Avatar

    670

    Bolt that S-Pen to a Tab Pro, THEN we are talking. One of the biggest failings of the Surface Pro/Surface Book design is the reliance on N-Trig and the need for big bulky pens. Those are good for longer sessions, but if you don't have the pen - FAIL - but with an S-Pen it is always docked at the ready...

    • Avatar

      5027

      In reply to dstrauss: Except the S-Pen is horrible, or at least it was on the Samsung Note 4.  I bought it specifically so i could take notes, the pen is so lagging and so horrible it was useless, I used the "phone" for a week, then I could not stand it .  It was better to go back to good old post-it notes. 

       

  18. Avatar

    5496

    it's funny how people on this site complains about Windows 10"spying" on you (which they don't), but yet, they like chrome books.

     

    For $500 I cam get a Windows laptop, that can do more if I need it to. I won't have worry about it if i lose wifi connection, I can still work offline.

    being that chrome books going to get android support, how long would it be before they kill off the chrome book app store.

    • Avatar

      5234

      In reply to lordbaal1:

      Google seems to be improving their privacy policy whereas Microsoft makes their own look worse with every big release.

      • Avatar

        5530

        In reply to Waethorn:

        Only because Microsoft has to clear a higher bar that Google because Microsoft used to a much stronger stance on privacy until they had to cave in to market realities. Google has been doing privacy invading stuff since its inception

        • Avatar

          5510

          In reply to FalseAgent:

          MSFT doesn't a stronger stance on privacy. They just say so for marketing purposes, just to attract the consumer market. The fact that Google's data collecting operation is not useful to the user, but's it's also highly transparent. The bottom line is this: For years and years, despite all the cries from MSFT and Paul about privacy, no incident has ever occurred. However, MSFT on the other hand, literally went into someone's private Microsoft account forcibily without a warrant. 

          The problem with MSFT and privacy is that they don't anything about it. All they do is complain and complan and urge people that they're product is better. The problem is that it's not. Google has always had a superior product to MSFT, when it comes to search and email, etc.... Rather than MSFT improving and taking over the space to which they are competing in, they do nothing but complain and cry. What they don't understand, is that they are actually helping Google make their even better, by pointing their mistakes, which eventually ends up with Google fixing it and going about their business with MSFT in their rearview mirror.

          • Avatar

            5530

            In reply to Bats:

            There is a need to differentiate between collecting data about your device, operating system telemetry, vs collecting data that is about you or data that can be used to personally identified you. Both Microsoft and Google are the same. Google edges out ahead in giving us a centralized dashboard to see where all the data is, something which Microsoft has yet to do. But personal data collected by Cortana, one of the few places Microsoft collects actual personal data, is extremely transparent. Data collected about your device, however, is difficult to be transparent about due to technicalities, and really, I think Microsoft has made is discoverable enough for most users to see the switch. On Android the device data goes to the OEM because of the nature of the business model of Android. It doesn't absolve Google of any responsibility but people don't seem to mind, so I ask you, why this double standard?

  19. Avatar

    6190

    There is only one reason for OEMs to build these business class ChromeOS devices and that is that they see demand. I believe businesses are starting to take notice and moving Chrome devices into roles that can use them. The savings in device price are not their prime concern, but the cost of managing them. Even for a small business, bringing in a highschool geek to clean up a pc is expensive and may require downtime for the business or employee. Businesses really don't want to do much IT, just sell widgets. ChromeOS devices have very little down time, worst case a drive to Best Buy and $300 to get going again. A device like this is not for programmers or spreadsheet jockeys, but for people going to meetings and typing a few notes, or entering data into a CRM via a web site, and maybe even sales people that want to avoid a reboot during a presentation. I'm sure plenty of you will tell me that it's easy to prevent that, but my experience in a windows enterprise is that sometimes you can control when they are applied, but not always. On Fridays I get a few seconds warning if I want to defer a scan and even then it happens in the middle of afternoon work. ChromeOS updates in the background, and is only applied when the user initiates a 10 second reboot. This is a valuable thing for many. People should not underestimate the viability of ChromeOS for businesses.

  20. Avatar

    214

    These devices will prove more than adequate for accessing and leveraging cloud-based resources. Cloudy Android - Andromeda - might be nice in this context.

  21. Avatar

    6750

    By "better pen input mechanics" I assume you mean larger pens, like the Surface Pen, have better ergonomics.

    True. But for my usage (occasional note taking, crude sketching, and document annotating) I'd rather have the greater convenience of having a small stylus housed inside the device than the better ergonomics, but lesser convenience, of a larger stylus which I have to remember to carry around separately.

  22. Avatar

    217

    I agree with you Paul, but Windows (and OSX and Linux included) are for small use cases - creatives, programmers, university research, etc - fine. But that portion of people buying general use computers is shrinking rapidly. So no the traditional OSs will never go away, but they certainly aren't going to be the mainstream. 

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