Samsung’s Chromebook Pro Nudges Deeper Into Windows Territory

Posted on October 15, 2016 by Brad Sams in Hardware with 70 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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41 Comments
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  1. 1 | Reply
    tbsteph Alpha Member #206 - 1 month ago

    Any sign of smoke?

  2. 1 | Reply
    RonV42 Alpha Member #166 - 1 month ago

    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.

    1. 0 | Reply
      hrlngrv Alpha Member #100 - 1 month ago

      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.

  3. 1 | Reply
    hrlngrv Alpha Member #100 - 1 month ago

    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.

    1. 0 | Reply
      Narg Alpha Member #420 - 1 month ago
      In reply to hrlngrv:

      Agreed, though I still prefer the old 16x10 aspect.  Kind of a good middle ground with benefits to both sides.

  4. 1 | Reply
    gsmith-plm Alpha Member #1599 - 1 month ago

    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.

    1. 0 | Reply
      Waethorn Alpha Member #2235 - 1 month ago
      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.

    2. 1 | Reply
      JudaZuk Alpha Member #2098 - 1 month ago
      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. 1 | Reply
    gregsedwards Alpha Member #1910 - 1 month ago

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

    Melted Galaxy Note 7

    1. 1 | Reply
      anchovylover Alpha Member #875 - 1 month ago
      In reply to gregsedwards:

      Still looks better than that ghastly tile UI  😜😎

  6. 0 | Reply
    red.radar Alpha Member #2526 - 1 month ago

    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 

    1. 0 | Reply
      Waethorn Alpha Member #2235 - 1 month ago
      In reply to red.radar:

      Would you rather buy an $800 paperweight, like the Surface Pro 4 or Book at launch?

    2. 0 | Reply
      JudaZuk Alpha Member #2098 - 1 month ago
      In reply to Waethorn: - a very functional paperweight ..  was no issues with Surface Pro 4 really .. was mostly with the Surface Book .   Why waste $500 on crap.. might as well buy a VR headset if you just want to play and waste money on something that is fun for 5 min

       

  7. 0 | Reply
    Cassie Alpha Member #534 - 1 month ago

    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.

  8. 0 | Reply
    dcdevito Alpha Member #220 - 1 month ago

    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. 

  9. 0 | Reply
    dstrauss Alpha Member #640 - 1 month ago

    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...

    1. 1 | Reply
      JudaZuk Alpha Member #2098 - 1 month ago
      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. 

       

  10. 0 | Reply
    prettyconfusd Alpha Member #1780 - 1 month ago

    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...

    1. 0 | Reply
      Waethorn Alpha Member #2235 - 1 month ago
      In reply to prettyconfusd:

      Solid state drives are still expensive.  I don't see any sub-$500 systems with large solid state drives.

  11. 0 | Reply
    Plumbobby Alpha Member #1827 - 1 month ago

    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.

    1. 0 | Reply
      Waethorn Alpha Member #2235 - 1 month ago
      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".

    2. 0 | Reply
      Plumbobby Alpha Member #1827 - 1 month ago
      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?

    3. 0 | Reply
      maethorechannen Alpha Member #377 - 1 month ago
      In reply to Plumbobby:

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

    4. 0 | Reply
      Waethorn Alpha Member #2235 - 1 month ago
      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.

  12. 0 | Reply
    nordyj Alpha Member #1237 - 1 month ago

    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.

  13. 0 | Reply
    jr.flynn Alpha Member #424 - 1 month ago

    I feel like this device is too expensive for what it is. A much lower price point would make this worthy of consideration for its specs. For the price they are charging it needs to be beefier than what they are offering. For $500 you can get a surprisingly decent WinTel. It does have a nice little design.

    1. 0 | Reply
      Waethorn Alpha Member #2235 - 1 month ago
      In reply to jr.flynn:

      I'd like to see a high-quality Wintel system with an aluminum build, stylus input, and convertible 13" display with high DPI for $500.

       

      And show me one that's fanless...

    2. 0 | Reply
      hrlngrv Alpha Member #100 - 1 month ago

      In reply to Waethorn:

      I'd be happy with a decent 3:2 aspect ratio choice.

    3. 0 | Reply
      Waethorn Alpha Member #2235 - 1 month ago
      In reply to hrlngrv:

      I'm not picky about screen sizes.  I've worked on them all.  I think I'd still prefer a widescreen view over something square-ish, since it more accurately represents full visible range.  I know lots of business users who have applications that are built for widescreen, and are condensed for 4:3 or 3:2 screens that make it impossible for them to function correctly.

      Even Photoshop is built for widescreen, since your tools take up the periphery.

    4. -1 | Reply
      hrlngrv Alpha Member #100 - 1 month ago

      In reply to Waethorn:

      MSFT Office wastes scantier vertical space for its ribbon UI. NBD for me because I use the QAT and classic keyboard shortcuts orders of magnitude more often than the ribbon.

      Anyway, I know what *I* use, and none of it requires or benefits from wide screens. And, FWIW, any program which needs to run maximized in a particular aspect ratio was designed by an incompetent.

    5. 0 | Reply
      Narg Alpha Member #420 - 1 month ago
      In reply to hrlngrv:

      "MSFT Office wastes scantier vertical space for its ribbon UI. NBD for me because I use the QAT and classic keyboard shortcuts orders of magnitude more often than the ribbon."

      OMG, you're new to Office right?  Please say your new to it...  You can "unpin" the ribbon, and or hide it completely with the read mode.  Really?

    6. 0 | Reply
      jr.flynn Alpha Member #424 - 1 month ago
      In reply to Waethorn:

      My point is that is a combination of high and low end that doesn't make any sense. This is a $200 device (considering the internals) with a nice case and stylus capability bolted on.

       

      Sure it looks nice but who is going to drop half a Surface Pro on a Chromebook? Clearly if I'm wrong and the market has a overwhelming desire for a 'high-end Chromebook' then every manufacturer will be rushing to sell one of these as the profit margin will be substantial.

    7. 2 | Reply
      JudaZuk Alpha Member #2098 - 1 month ago
      In reply to jr.flynn: - considering hardly anyone is running out to buy an Android tablet these days, and hardly anyone buys Chrombooks except for some schools in the US , I don't really see the point of this device.  At least not for that price. 
      Sure it looks nice.. but who is it for?  And what makes it Pro?  The price ?

       

    8. 0 | Reply
      jr.flynn Alpha Member #424 - 1 month ago
      In reply to JudaZuk:

      I think you've hit the nail on the head here.

    9. 0 | Reply
      Waethorn Alpha Member #2235 - 1 month ago
      In reply to jr.flynn:

      Materials can cost a lot: just look at Apple systems.

      The Rockchip RK3399 is almost the same speed as a Braswell Pentium.  It has a long battery life too, so for the cost, it's all relative.  If you put it in a cheap non-touch plastic 11.6" netbook chassis with no digitizer, sure it might sell for $200 -- when chip manufacturing reaches mass scale.

    10. 0 | Reply
      hrlngrv Alpha Member #100 - 1 month ago

      In reply to jr.flynn:

      I figure the 360 degree hinge and the ability to use a pen on the screen boost the hardware cost above US$200.

    11. 0 | Reply
      jr.flynn Alpha Member #424 - 1 month ago
      In reply to hrlngrv:

      Since ChromeOS and Andriod are not yet combined, I am weary of how good the stylus experience will be as it will most likely be a Samsung developed add-on.

      If the stylus experience isn't good that would make the fact it is a convertible useless. If they did figure that out then it might be worth the major price jump for some folks.

  14. 0 | Reply
    Waethorn Alpha Member #2235 - 1 month ago

    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.

    1. 0 | Reply
      jr.flynn Alpha Member #424 - 1 month ago
      In reply to Waethorn:

      The Acer is coming in at a high price point as well, at least for a Chromebook at $430. If the stylus on this works really well then there are plenty of people that would pay the extra $70 (assuming there is a high-end Chromebook market at all). However, if they didn't really pull it off with the stylus then there is no way the performance of this would be enough to justify the extra cost. Either way I'd be curious to see how they rate against each other.

  15. 0 | Reply
    chrisrut Alpha Member #193 - 1 month ago

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

    1. 0 | Reply
      jr.flynn Alpha Member #424 - 1 month ago
      In reply to chrisrut:

      The existing lower cost Chromebooks pull off what they attempt to do successfully. The key benefit being that the physical devices are nearly a disposable commidity. This device is not that, intentionally so.

      This seems like a device that shouldn't come out until Andromeda is formalized to ensure it is useful in the future. They are entering the price point where a device can't last last just a year or two, it needs to be fully supported for 3 or more years.