The fun was partially spoiled thanks to a big leak over the weekend. But Samsung does indeed have a faux-leather Chromebook—two, in fact—borrowing a similar look from the company’s Galaxy Note 3. Simply dubbed Chromebook 2, Samsung’s new series is meant to be part of the company’s more “power-oriented” products, fitting in with its Note 3, Note Pro and Tab Pro. The design, however, is only half the story. Samsung enjoyed relative success with its ARM-based Chromebook from 2012, and it’s looking to pick up right where that device left off.
Samsung is introducing two different configurations this April—one with an 11.6-inch (1366×768) display, and a larger model with a 13.3-inch (1920×1080) screen. For the most part, both sport the same specs: each comes with 4GB of RAM, 16GB of flash storage, 720HD Web cameras, a single HDMI, USB 3.0 and USB 2.0 ports, and microSD card readers. But there are also some differences, too, aside from just the screen sizes. For one, the 11-inch model sports an Exynos 5 Octa chip clocked at 1.9GHz, while the 13-inch model comes equipped with an Exynos 5 Octa clocked at 2.1GHz.
As you’d expect, the 11-inch model is a bit smaller than the 13-inch, weighing in at 2.43 pounds (compared to 3.09 pounds), but that small form factor comes at a slight cost; Samsung rates the battery life for the 11-inch Chromebook 2 at 8 hours, while the 13-inch iteration gets up to 8.5. Not a huge difference, but definitely one to note when making a purchase.
Despite Chrome OS being relatively limited in its functionality, these machines are clearly meant for power users, with fast guts and other features typical of the traditional PC market. Data suggests the Chromebook market is becoming increasingly popular—2013 seemed to be a banner year—and we’ve already seen some big companies push their wares earlier this year. But while Samsung’s Chromebook 2 has all the parts necessary to do some damage in the Chromebook market, there are other options out there, including one of our early favorites from Toshiba.
Like in its Note Pro device, Samsung says its Chromebook 2 Series comes preloaded with software valued at more than $100, including: smartphone access and data management service Air Droid Premium, Wunderlist Pro, and English learning app LittleBridge.com. Chromebooks have become a popular choice in the classroom, so the extra software is a nice touch. However, the added software and faster specs do add up; the 11-inch model starts at $319.99 (in jet black and classic white), while the 13-inch model will retail for $399 (in titan gray). The Toshiba we’ve already mentioned, meanwhile, starts at $279, and comes with a 13.3-inch (1366×768) display, Haswell processor, 9 hours of battery, and a more striking design.
Samsung’s most recent Chromebook was successful in its own right, and there’s nothing to suggest this year’s Chromebook 2 Series will be any different. It’s nice to see Samsung offering different models, ensuring the two most popular form factors in the laptop space are accounted for. These are perfect education machines, offering easy Internet access with the specs to get through a day’s worth of work. But given that the Chromebook market is beginning to heat up, it might not be so easy for Samsung to achieve the same success today as it did in late 2012. If you prefer Samsung’s faux-leather approach, however, these are the perfect Chromebooks for you.