Customer Review

523 of 569 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Writer's Dream, 23 Nov 2012
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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Tracked by 4 customers

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Showing 1-10 of 15 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 29 Nov 2012 22:36:42 GMT
you should really check out the alphasmart dana if you haven't already... i love it.. so basic, like a kids toy, but great and fun for writing :)

In reply to an earlier post on 30 Nov 2012 06:54:57 GMT
Hi David. I was really tempted to get an Alphasmart, but could only find the Neo from UK stockists. The three-line screen was a bit too small for my liking. If I'd been able to find a Dana at a reasonable price, I'd have probably given it a go; it has exactly the simplicity-without-distraction I was looking for. Where did you find yours, or have you had it a while?

Posted on 6 Feb 2013 16:47:54 GMT
Lynne Frank says:
I'm 99% leaning towards ordering a Google Chromebook for internet browsing, email, Facebook and writing. Just wondering if I can load existing MS Word docs onto the Chromebook and convert them? Carol

In reply to an earlier post on 6 Feb 2013 17:08:10 GMT
Last edited by the author on 6 Feb 2013 17:08:51 GMT
Hello, Lynne.

Unfortunately I don't use MS Word, as my main machine is a Macbook. However, I do use OpenOffice and just tested a manuscript-formatted document (uploaded from Mac, then right-click>open with... Google Docs on Chromebook) and it converted it perfectly, so far as I can tell. It created a second gdoc version and left the original untouched. Normally, though, I just copy/paste my latest material from Scrivener into a separate Google document (which also works fine).

You may want to read a few more reviews to be sure; some of them are much more comprehensive than my own, and may delve into document synchronising further.

Good luck!

In reply to an earlier post on 7 Feb 2013 11:38:43 GMT
Lynne Frank says:
Hi Gary
Many thanks for testing out converting documents - sounds as though it works well and should be the same for MS Word docs. Your comments are most helpful.
Happy tapping!

In reply to an earlier post on 7 Feb 2013 14:33:11 GMT
You're welcome, Lynne. Hope everything works out, and happy tapping to you, too!

Posted on 18 Mar 2013 10:35:06 GMT
I am a writer. And that computer is exactly what you said "A Writer's dream"

Posted on 19 Apr 2013 20:00:09 BDT
I agree - this is a writer's dream. I love the keyboard, love the way Google Docs saves automatically, love the screen, the weight, the fast boot-up time, the speakers, the great battery life and the price. I've also been able to tether the Chromebook to my Android phone and get online easily (although I've only had to do that once in the 2 weeks I've had the machine).

I've found offline capability to be good too, although if you want to listen to music offline, then you really need to get an SD card or pen drive. Same applies to movies.

My only gripes are that the only PDF editor I've so far found, PDF Zen, is still in Beta and is therefore not much cop if you are editing a large document, e.g. a book, which I recently was. It doesn't work offline either. Hopefully the developers will fix this in due course. I also can't find a media player that can handle subtitles - I use VLC on my Mac, but so far there seems to be nothing in Chrome-land to handle this sort of thing.

But still, these are minor complaints. I love this machine so much it's actually helped my productivity. A writer's dream indeed. Well done Google and Samsung for coming up with such great piece of kit.

Posted on 3 Jun 2013 12:47:57 BDT
Barbi says:
I'm a writer and £50,000 later on student fees (oh yeah- BA & MA, that's what i owe :'( eeek) and so now I'm broke! But still a writer :)
I needed a silver (I write better on silver laptops...), non expensive laptop with a lovely keypad that had impressed another writer- job done!
Thank you so much, that's why people must write reviews- it's the butterfly effect you see! Now I shall change the world on this laptop, if I get famous I'll buy you a drink!
Angel Lucia x

In reply to an earlier post on 5 Jun 2013 08:04:13 BDT
Hehe. You're welcome, Angel! Good luck with the writing; I look forward to toasting your silver laptop-fuelled success one day. :)
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Review Details



Location: Farnham, Surrey

Top Reviewer Ranking: 134,994