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2,415 of 2,495 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Nearly Perfect
This will be a long review. For those wanting a short summary, I'll include one at the end.

I've owned the Cr-48 for a while, which was a kind of test unit Google sent out to people to beta test the operating system. That came out a long time ago and none of the commercial units have felt good enough to me to justify buying, until this one. They were always a...
Published 23 months ago by Captain Awesome

versus
261 of 287 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Let down by faulty functionality
I've had this 11 inch reconceived netbook for two days and we've become quite close - but not so close that I won't be returning it to Amazon. Maybe?
Wassup? This is a second generation Chromebook, so you'd expect the bugs to have been fixed. They haven't.
(1) The Sync function simply doesn't - I'm currently waiting for a Chromebook Ninja (their term) to get...
Published 22 months ago by Polymath


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2,415 of 2,495 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Nearly Perfect, 27 Oct 2012
By 
Captain Awesome (England) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 100 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Samsung Chromebook XE303C12-A01UK 11.6-inch Laptop (2GB RAM, 16GB HDD) (Personal Computers)
This will be a long review. For those wanting a short summary, I'll include one at the end.

I've owned the Cr-48 for a while, which was a kind of test unit Google sent out to people to beta test the operating system. That came out a long time ago and none of the commercial units have felt good enough to me to justify buying, until this one. They were always a little too expensive, despite the obvious advantages.
I purchased my unit elsewhere because I managed to order early from Amazon, but they were unable to get the product to me by the date indicated.

The software

For those unclear, Chrome OS (which the Chromebook runs) is fundamentally different to a Windows, Mac or Linux-based laptop, desktop or netbook. This is because it runs the web. No native applications exist specifically for this machine. There are apps (sometimes referred to as Chrome apps) but they also work in the Chrome browser.

Because this computer runs what many call 'just a browser' it has several advantages, as well as disadvantages when compared to a Windows machine. I've chosen Windows for most comparisons here as more people typically use Windows than a Mac or Linux machine.

Security

You cannot install Windows applications (or other native software) on Chrome OS. This means that the computer can operate more securely than a Windows machine simply because the computer knows what should be installed. If something is there that shouldn't be there, the computer will erase all local data and install a version of the software that's stored in a secure area. Once you're connected to the internet, you'll be updated to the most recent version of the operating system. As your settings, bookmarks and Chrome applications are stored by Google, they are also restored after the machine is reset and you log in. Typically the operating system is updated every 6 weeks, meaning bugs get fixed pretty quickly (important bug fixes will arrive more quickly) and new features are released quickly, too.

Getting things done

This is where the big problem is for some people; you can't install Microsoft Office, Adobe's Photoshop or other software packages. You're limited to software that's delivered through a browser. Most people are perfectly comfortable with using things like Facebook, Twitter and email this way. The web offers some pretty powerful tools, though. For instance, pretty sophisticated image editing software exists on-line, as do audio and video editing tools. Using the massive resources of the internet (typically referred to as 'the cloud') means that video editing and other resource-intensive tasks can be made dramatically quicker than doing it locally. Make no mistake though, if you do need something like Photoshop it's just not possible, unless you use software specifically designed to deliver 'normal' software through the web. Companies like Citrix offer products that can do that, but given the additional cost, it's usually only big businesses that use them.

If you don't need extremely-specialised software though, there's a lot available. Google, Zoho and Microsoft all offer tools that will let you create, open and export documents in popular formats, such as Microsoft Office. There are advantages to this approach, too. Google Docs (as an example) allows individuals to use their online document, spreadsheet and presentation software free of charge and, even better, you can collaborate with up to 50 people on the same document, practically in real-time. This sort of thing just isn't typically possible with traditional software. Where it is, it's likely to be clunkier than a web-based tool as a website just lets you login and work.

Calendars, Angry Birds, finance tools (Sage and QuickBooks are available through the browser) are all also available in this way. It's worth checking out if the things you'll want to do are available in this way before ordering a Chromebook.

There are also many off-line capable applications. That is, things that will work without an internet connection. These include Google Drive's Docs, Sheets and Slides, which are Google's version of Word, Excel and Powerpoint. Things like Google Calendar and Gmail also work offline to a degree. Keep in mind though that this is primarily a device for accessing the internet. Without a connection, this device is extremely-limited. Applications delivered through a browser will get more and more capable over time, though.

Other drawbacks

As I've said, not everything is available through a browser. Critical things that people take for granted either aren't available or are very different on a Chromebook.
It's not possible to watch AVI or MKV video files (at the time this was written) for example, without converting them. That's a big pain for some. Printing is different too, as you can't just plugin a printer on Chrome OS and have it work. For those that are curious, Google has a service called Cloud Print, which involves hooking up your printer to the internet. This approach does have an advantage in that you're able to print to your printer from anywhere with an internet connection, either from a mobile device or any installation of Chrome. For those without a printer that can connect to the internet independently of a regular computer, you can enable a normal printer by installing Chrome on a Windows machine and running it that way.

Storage

A key thing about Chromebooks is that they come with a 16GB hard drive. This is considered very low by modern standards as a typical Windows machine will come with a minimum of 500GB and often far more.

Google Drive is Google's solution for this. Essentially, Google Drive is on-line storage. It stores files from Google Docs and will store pretty much any type of file, too. A key thing is that it integrates with the file system, meaning you can save files directly to your account (Drive can be used on Windows and other computers, as well as Android and iOS devices) and access them from whichever device you're using.
By default, Drive uses the 15 gigabytes of storage that you get across your Google account. This can be split across email, photo backups and Drive. If you don't store email attachments long-term or use Google+ auto backup for your photos this means you're getting nearly 15 gigs for Drive. This isn't a huge amount, but for free on-line storage it's slightly above average. Many other services actually offer much less. However, if you buy a Chromebook you get 100GB free for two years, which is very useful given that it can be used across many devices. If after two years you're using more than whatever the normal free allowance is at that point (things do change) and you've not qualified for some other promotion, you'll no longer be able to add new files. Your existing data will be accessible, meaning files will not be deleted.
Another great thing about Drive is that files can be shared with others. Google Docs files are not counted towards your storage.
Again, it's worth noting that other great on-line storage solutions exist, such as Dropbox and Box. The difference of course is that they're not tightly-integrated with the Chromebook.

It should also be noted that if you wish to use Google Drive to store pretty much all your files online (100 gigabytes is actually pretty hard to fill up, unless you upload your entire private video collection - content you have the rights to, of course chances are you won't need that much) prices recently dropped (as of April 2014) to 1 terabyte for $10 a month. Online storage is getting very cheap indeed and will continue to get cheaper, from all major providers. A relatively small hard drive makes sense as this is a device designed to access the web and not store large files locally.

Hardware (general)

This new Chromebook is running on an ARM chip, the type of processor you'd typically find in a mobile phone or tablet. That may sound slow given the demands of a typical Windows machine, but it's very quick. It boots in around 7 seconds (it feels more like 5 as the logo is on the screen almost as soon as you open the lid) and you can be on-line with your normal tabs open in under 30 seconds with ease. The keyboard is extremely responsive and many professional reviewers have remarked that it's the best that's ever been on a Chromebook, which includes the much more expensive Samsung Series 5 550 machine. The trackpad, too, is very good indeed.

The machine is extremely responsive due to it needing very few resources to operate. If you attempt to run 20+ tabs, yes, it will slow down a whole lot. But if, like most typical users, you use this for email, Facebook and the like, you should have no performance issues. Depending on your usage, the stated 6.5 hours of battery life are very close. In fact I'd suggest that you'd get more, depending on screen brightness etc.

Other hardware

On this particular unit you'll find one USB 2.0 port, one USB 3.0 port, HDMI out (for putting what's on your screen on a bigger screen, like a computer monitor or TV) and an SD card reader. External USB hard drives work fine in my experience and many phones are treated properly as mass storage too. However certain devices such as external optical (CD/DVD) drives will not work at all.

Miscellaneous

It should be noted that since Chromebooks are essentially stateless (that is, they have little personal data stored on them) they can be wiped at any time without a problem and you can start over. This also means that they can easily be shared and Chrome devices (a desktop version, called a Chromebox also exists) have something called Guest Mode, which allows a friend to browse the web without accessing your settings or bookmarks and when they're done, their browsing history is automatically deleted. For those with whom you share your Chrome device regularly, you can add them to the list of permanent users.

Summary

Essentially, if you use the web most of the time (this is what most computer users do) or want a second machine that can be used without any technical knowledge for that purpose by others in your household, this is an ideal device. If, however, you like to play a lot of 'real' video games or access specialised software, chances are that this device isn't for you. That said, this device is cheap enough that you can buy one for the living room or to use while you watch television. Due to the price of this machine, it's most likely to be compared to a low-end Windows machine (which are typically very slow) or a tablet, such as a Nexus 7.

If you want easy web access and don't care at all about typing, I'd suggest a tablet. A good quality tablet can (at the time of this review) be had for £159, including a high definition screen. But if typing and web access matters to you, I'd seriously consider this device.

You may be interested in my Acer C7 Chromebook review, which I did after using my Samsung Chromebook. It can be found here: http://www.amazon.co.uk/review/R30TOVRMD8DHM5/

Febuary 2013 update

As with other Chrome devices, the Samsung Chromebook gets better over time. Google's presentations tool was recently updated to work without an internet connection. I've not used this application much and it's worth noting that other solutions are available, but it being able to function off-line makes Chromebooks more useful, at no additional charge.

It's also worth noting that though it's in beta form (early and not perfect) it's now possible to use BitTorrent on a Chrome device. As always, you should be aware of what you're downloading via BitTorrent and the legalities. I'm not encouraging anyone to use the application, but if you're wanting to try it, search for JSTorrent.

March 2014 update

There will soon be a new model of the Samsung Chromebook, likely launching in April or May in the UK. It will likely retail for more than the original, but have much improved internals, making for a faster, more capable device. There should also be the option for a larger screen, as well as the current size. I appreciate the kind words and hope you've found this review helpful. As I'm returning to education in the coming months, I may well end up buying the new Samsung Chromebook. I'll certainly review it here if I end up purchasing one.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Would I buy a MacBook Air? After 2 weeks with my Chromebook, NO!, 17 Aug 2013
By 
Ed Jie (Switzerland) - See all my reviews
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Samsung Chromebook XE303C12-A01UK 11.6-inch Laptop (2GB RAM, 16GB HDD) (Personal Computers)
Two weeks of living with a Chromebook.
I am writing this article after living for two weeks with my Samsung Chromebook (ARM powered).

Why did I buy a Chromebook?
Because my dear “vintage” white MacBook finally really died 3 weeks ago.
The logical choice seemed to be the 11 inch Macbook Air, but after the age of netbooks, and tablets I wanted something somewhat cheaper.

What was I looking for?
Something light, cheap, that started up quickly and had a nice bright screen for emails, browsing, blogging, skping, youtube, iplayer etc. Nothing esoteric, since I don’t play games or do complicated movie editing but I did want but a real keyboard, and not a “type on the glass” version. I am already Googlified and I normally use Firefox when on Mac or Windows platforms.

What do I like about the Chromebook?
It goes from dead closed and off straight to full browsing in less than 10 seconds
Light enough to take from room to room at home without a thought
Backward/forward dedicated web keys
6hr battery life on wifi, good staying power and relatively quick charging
Low cost means I won’t be crying if it starts to have problems within 6 months
Security - no more watching or waiting for updates
Google Docs offline and resynch
11 inch Screen resolution is fine
Kindle Reader App
Chromebook survived a small incident with a bottle of Evian
I can leave 5 dozen tabs open permanently and Chromebook doesn’t die!

What could Samsung and Google improve on the Chromebook?
I find the photo rendering too slow.
Camera resolution is really low
Face recognition unlocking would be nice.
Skype isn’t available on Chrome, but I am getting used to Hangouts
Where’s the CAPS lock or key combo?

Would I buy a MacBook Air?
After 2 weeks with my Chromebook, I am not turning back. There is no chance that I would want the MBA even if it is a higher quality piece of engineering. And we won’t even talk about price.

Disclaimer
I will admit that I do own a couple of Apple shares, but do not own any Google shares.
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611 of 653 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fab for fast web surfing and research, 3 Nov 2012
This review is from: Samsung Chromebook XE303C12-A01UK 11.6-inch Laptop (2GB RAM, 16GB HDD) (Personal Computers)
I'm very satisfied with this Chromebook. Why ?
1- It boots up in less than 10 seconds,not 60 like most laptops.
2- There are no "Daily Updates" because the system updates itself and is ready when you switch on.
3- I can't get any viruses on this Chromebook and so I'll save money on anti-virus software and hassle.
4- The Chrome browser is lightning fast. It blitzes along.
5- I can store all my stuff online ( in the cloud) ... all my letters, spreadsheets, presentations...in Google Drive using Google Docs. I've been given 100 Gb for free, forever. No more Micros**t Office.
6- It has a 16 Gb hard drive and also two USB slots for storing my stuff on memory sticks, memory cards or external hard drives.
7- The full-size keyboard and trackpad are very comfortable and responsive.
8- There is a reader for my SD and SDHC cards.
9- The sound is very good from the speakers ( not " tinny") and the webcam is good too. Not fabulous but good.
10- It is very quiet and so I can listen to quiet music and not hear the laptop whirring.
11- I love it.......and I think you will too.
I would NOT buy it if you want to play games on it but if you want a VERY fast laptop to search the internet and type letters and spreadsheets and one which is hassle free .....no updates, no waiting, no viruses, no problems....THIS IS IT !
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208 of 225 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great for just getting online., 14 Nov 2012
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Samsung Chromebook XE303C12-A01UK 11.6-inch Laptop (2GB RAM, 16GB HDD) (Personal Computers)
I encouraged an old neighbour (who's desktop had finally given up the ghost)to get one of these Chromebooks as all he uses it for is banking and online shopping. Upon setting it up for him I liked it so much I got one for myself.

Firstly, the positives: My neighbour is in his late 70s with Parkinsons and hated laptops as you have to have decent dexterity to use a trackpad. He finds the trackpad on his Chromebook much easier to use. The two-finger scrolling is much easier than finding a narrow strip down one side, like normal trackpads. It's quite large for such a small laptop and I'd say it's the best trackpad I've used since my Macbook Pro (which was around £1800).

Secondly, there's no maintenance at all. If, like my neighbour, you're confused about virus scans, firewalls and drivers then this is ideal. There is no real operating system for a virus to install itself on and all security is sorted at Google's end. The updates are automatic so this is as plug and play as you're going to get.

Thirdly, the boot time is 7-9 seconds and it's totally silent. It's great to have on the coffee table where you can pick it up and be online within seconds, and while watching TV there are no fans whirring which might annoy others in the same room.

The negatives: Well, there aren't any. I see some of the comments from people complaining it won't do this or that, but you don't buy a netbook around £200 to encode video. It's just for getting online quickly and easily with the minimum of fuss. If you want to encode video, touch up high resolution photos, or watch HD movies then this might not be for you. Get a proper laptop. If you want to just have something that gets you online quickly and securely for browsing, shopping, banking and using facebook and twitter then this is a no-brainer at £230. Snap one up.
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39 of 42 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great little additional device, 28 Nov 2012
By 
N. Aurelius-haddock (London) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Samsung Chromebook XE303C12-A01UK 11.6-inch Laptop (2GB RAM, 16GB HDD) (Personal Computers)
I'm most definitely moving more to using cloud applications , and using an iPad was part of that move, but when you want to type a more substantive post, then the iPad keyboard does run out of steam. This device is a great compromise, as I keep it in the lounge for fast access to the web and it has excellent battery life - over 7 hours so far. You can just close the lid and open it again later, and your up and running in seconds. The look and feel is that of a cheaper version of a Mac Book Air. To be clear though, at £700 less expensive, it isn't an Apple. The track pad is good and very usable and the gestures work well. I really like the way it links into the Google infrastructure, with gives you immediate access to all the apps you have already installed with Chrome. It will work though with any standards compliant web applications.

The Google Chrome browser is renowned for speed, and although this certainly is not designed to be the fastest kit on the block, it is perfectly respectable. I always have multiple tabs open, and the experience is good.

This device is not designed to replace a full machine for really heavy duty applications, but then in reality, how often do you need those? With virtual machines in the cloud, this is becoming less important by the day anyway.

I think for most people, who just want to browse the web and use cloud applications, this unit is for you.
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176 of 191 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Nice 2nd Computer, 28 Oct 2012
By 
P. Spychal - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Samsung Chromebook XE303C12-A01UK 11.6-inch Laptop (2GB RAM, 16GB HDD) (Personal Computers)
I must say this laptop is simple and hassle free. On my first use I just charged up the battery, turned it on, entered my WiFi details and waited for a software update before it rebooted. A login screen then appeared and I typed in my Google username and password and I could just use my browser with all the settings including bookmarks and all my Google docs already in place - no messages from Norton anti-virus or pointless Sony crap-ware, just a computer that just works. Easy

The keyboard is really nice to use. Touch pad is nice and big. Someone in the comments mentioned that the screen isn't great but for such little money I find it more than fit for purpose and much better than my previous 11.6 inch Sony laptop that cost almost 3 times the price about 18 months ago. My only real gripe is that the webcam is not great but I was surprised at the quality of the speakers and the clear stereo that comes across really clearly when using it on a table. And of course it's beautifully thin and loads up really fast.
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516 of 562 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Writer's Dream, 23 Nov 2012
By 
Mr. Gary Walker (Farnham, Surrey) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Samsung Chromebook XE303C12-A01UK 11.6-inch Laptop (2GB RAM, 16GB HDD) (Personal Computers)
As a writer, I wanted something lighter and more portable than my 15" Macbook pro--this fit the bill perfectly.

I've only owned my Samsung Chromebook for two days and I'm already totally in love with it. I had trawled the internet for a device that offered a few very specific features: lightness/portability, simplicity of use, affordability, and some kind of word processor. I considered a keyboard case for my iPad (the quality of the keyboards just wasn't good enough and they were often too small); following that I looked at dozens of netbooks, notebooks and laptops and everything was either too expensive (or not good value for money), too heavy, or too ugly.

Initially, I overlooked the Chromebook, put off by what I thought to be a complete lack of offline functionality. Thank goodness I did my research! Now that certain things can be downloaded to the (fairly limited) on board memory, allowing offline access to documents saved on Google Drive, as well as reading previously downloaded email and composing new ones--all of which synchronises once you have internet access--the Chromebook not only becomes a viable option for working on the go, it beats much of the competition.

The Chromebook looks beautiful; quite like a Macbook Air. Obviously, it's plastic, not aluminium, but then it's more than £600 cheaper! It's beautifully light and doesn't seems to suffer with overheating, even after several hours of use. The battery lasts well; yesterday I was online for about four hours and had 50% of my battery left when I turned in for the night.

The keyboard is excellent. At a guess, I'd say it was about 95% the size of the one on my Macbook. It's comfortable to type on and has a few customisable keys. Google Docs provides a more than adequate word processor, as well as spreadsheets and slideshow presentation software, though they're not a patch on MS Office, but still very good for online software.

The trackpad is very responsive, if a little rough to the touch, and does not support the 'pinch to zoom' or 'swipe back/forward' multi-touch gestures. It does have single finger click (obviously), two finger double-click, and two finger scrolling.

The screen lets the Chromebook down a bit. It has a matt finish (so reduced glare), and is not amazing quality. But it is perfectly adequate, has great brightness levels, and is really not that bad considering the Chromebook's price tag.

And what a price tag. In my opinion it's excellent value for money. I would highly recommend it to writers, students, maybe as a reasonably priced laptop for someone with teenage kids demanding gadgets for Christmas (the Chromebook handles multiple user accounts beautifully).

Overall, very impressed. Ideally I would have liked to give it 4.5 stars, deducting the half for the reduced quality screen.
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193 of 210 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Quiet, fast, hassle-free, and amazingly good value, 27 Oct 2012
By 
Mr. M. Smithson "Mike Smithson" (Bedford UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Samsung Chromebook XE303C12-A01UK 11.6-inch Laptop (2GB RAM, 16GB HDD) (Personal Computers)
In the US this became an Amazon best-seller after being on the market barely a day and having had mine for 12 hours now you can understand why.

The first thing that strikes you is that it is totally silent. There's is no fan or disk drives whizzing round like on a conventional lap-top and, for me, it is a very calming computer to use.

Secondly it boots up in just seven seconds and on top of that there is the added bonus that you don't have to be concerned about soft-ware updates or daily reminders from Microsoft to install their Bing desktop and the like. That's all done for you "in the cloud".

Thirdly it is lovely to work on.The keyboard and track-pad are a dream and it just feels very comfortable as you type.

Fourthly it has a fast web-browser that wipes the floor with my old bigger lap-top with twice as much RAM. With all the software operating "in the cloud" there is more processing power for the key function, web browsing.

The main downside is that the screen is not as good as computers costing several times as much. But it's not bad. You have to play about with the angle and it is perfectly acceptable.

The set-up is dead simple.

I bought this because I wanted a super-lightweight unit for travelling. It is so nice to use I can see it becoming my main computer.
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69 of 75 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great for me - why not try before you buy?, 28 Aug 2013
By 
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Samsung Chromebook XE303C12-A01UK 11.6-inch Laptop (2GB RAM, 16GB HDD) (Personal Computers)
I took a gamble on trying Chrome after getting hacked off with MS. I'm v glad i did. But here's a quick tip - I used Chrome on my Mac first - the browser, the spreadsheets and docs, the store etc etc....I liked them so bought the Chromebook and because it's all online it sync'd with what I'd done...so maybe 'try before you buy'.

I am not a gamer so cannot review that aspect. My use is for getting online obviously but also heavy everyday (small business) use of Docs (Word equivalent), Sheets (Excel) and Slides (Powerpoint) though not fantastically heavy use of in depth macros etc, but basic use of these. I have used MS office for 15 years - hated Apple's 'numbers' - but the Chrome versions are great for what I need - I actually prefer them and they work a lot like MS Office. Overall they are probably more basic than MS Office but other than not being easily able to Portrait slides in Slides I have had no issues - again, load Chrome and give it a go - if you're doing in depth accounting type formulas it may not be for you.

I really like :
"AirDroid" - I connect to my Android phone through my laptop - send messages, answer calls, use the camera function from the laptop, manage files, etc
"Spotify" - I've always been an iTunes spend 79/99p when i get a song in my head. Not now - it's free
I can work either on my MAC, phone or my Chromebook and it syncs
Very very light - around 1 kg
The store - there's lots in there so just read reviews, add and try
The whole 'tabs' 'browser' type way of working - love it

Some moan about the screen - I cannot understand why as I think it's fine so maybe they are just used to better screens (I have a Macbook and a soon to be got rid of Vaio) maybe it's a gaming thing....no problem with sound.....no problem with the mousepad....Plenty moan about 'I can't do this' or 'it doesn't support that' - research your needs before you buy, don't buy it and give it 1* because you can't Skype (for example)

Bad points? Only one I can think of is the CB sets things up (lay out) slightly differently from Chrome on my MAC (really minor gripe that)

The only question is could this be my only computer? I'm 50/50 on that (maybe 60/40 (in the chromebook's favour) - it does nearly everything I need in a really enjoyable way and I will not be going back to MS. Oh, I print from my MAC so haven't tried that yet....

Overall really pleased :)

Quick Update:
* Plenty of help online - eg it's an american keyboard so locating a £ sign can be tough depending on what keyboard language to pick (UK/US + variants) - found the solution in forums
* It doesn't support IMAP email at the moment so if like me you use Thunderbird it's not available (you'll have to use Webmail)
* Got round set up gripe by pinning things to the task bar along the bottom
* Despite 1 or 2 'issues' like these still very happy and it's being developed all the time so these may be gone in 6 months......
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Very Impressive, 1 Jan 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Samsung Chromebook XE303C12-A01UK 11.6-inch Laptop (2GB RAM, 16GB HDD) (Personal Computers)
It gets five stars because it does what I need it to do - and more besides.

I took the decision last month to move my work IT over to paid Google Apps. Solving problems with reliable access to documents and email whilst travelling. However giving me another problem - I still had to travel with my Macbook Pro (my primary work computer, which I love), which meant all my work files are at risk away from work (no amount of backup and disk encryption can reduce the pain and frustration of someone stealing your computer...).

Being a Google Apps user, when I sat down and looked at my computer work, most of it is browser based - so a Chromebook seemed to make sense. I read a few reviews, some of which are respectful but not exactly positive about Chromebooks - eventually I bought this Samsung instead of the Acer C720 because it was delivered free from stock in the UK. The Acer had to come from the USA (at time of writing) and would cost another £50 delivery. I was lucky enough to have an Amazon voucher to cover the cost.

I compared the two devices in my local PC World. Their demo model of the Samsung looked decidedly dodgy. I was quite concerned that I might have bought the wrong thing. Perhaps their demo computer had a hard life. My Samsung arrived yesterday and I have been most impressed.

Build quality is fine. It looks nice, even with the iPearl hard shell case I bought with it. The screen is perfectly adequate as long as you're looking at it from the correct angle. Being matt it doesn't show reflections, which is great for me. Actually I don't mind the narrow screen viewing angle - I bought this computer for working whilst travelling, so it's handy that the person sitting next to me on the train can't see what I'm typing on my computer. It works for me.

Offline access to documents is easy. In fact this Chromebook is helping me learn more about the Chrome browser's more useful features.

It comes with bluetooth support but no bluetooth radio - easily fixed when I rummaged about my old parts box and found an ancient Belkin bluetooth USB dongle which the Chromebook recognised as soon as it was plugged in. The same goes for an old wireless Microsoft mouse. Minimum of fuss, it just worked straight away.

The free 2 years of an additional 100GB of space for my Google Drive was most welcome and set up in seconds. But the best part is being able to access my beloved Mac remotely using the Chrome remote desktop. I sat in the car this morning with the Samsung tethered to my phone and used it to play music and watch videos on the Mac which was sitting on my desk at home.

Some people have reviewed this device as "restricted". I beg to differ. The only restriction is in the mind of the user - you'll find a way to do most tasks (but you can't do Skype - although Google Hangouts is very good). This Samsung Chromebook is an enabler.

It's light. It doesn't get hot. I can pop it into my briefcase easily. The battery lasts long enough for me. The keyboard is really easy to use. If I'm travelling with it, my documents are as secure as my password and the risk to data is minimal. If it gets lost or stolen, at £200 it's almost self-insuring. I can run presentations from it onto a large screen monitor (HDMI port makes this devastatingly simple). I haven't had to buy any additional software or security programs.

For my travelling needs it was either a Chromebook or an 11" Macbook Air. At a quarter of the price, this Samsung is good enough for me. In fact it's better than good enough. OK I accept it's not built like the Macbook, but I can achieve roughly the same results with it. At £200 it's going to be a very useful travelling companion. It's also a useful spare in case anything happens to my main computer.

Worth every penny.
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