Thursday, June 9, 2011

A Look at the Samsung Series 5 Chromebook

Like a piece of roadkill on the side of the highway, has just ripped apart a Samsung Series 5 Chromebook for all to see. In doing so, they compared it with our trusty Cr-48 and noted where Google/Samsung has made tweaks since going retail. I have just a few thoughts on the Series 5:
  • It makes sense that the Series 5 (and in all likelyhood Acer's model) have a lot in common with Google's Cr-48. Why go to the trouble of producing 60,000 test machines if you're not going to use the experience to learn and build on? It just wouldn't make sense for the first retail models to deviate to much from the testbed. I expect things will happen much like they did for Android. The first few Android handsets were nearly clones of each other but walk into a cell phone store today and there's a huge variety of hardware form factors and specs available. 2nd generation Chromebooks may use ARM processors instead of Intel Atom. We're also likely to see a variety of screen sizes and even non-notebook style machines (Chromebox, tablet, etc).
  • For those of you who have had trouble with the Cr-48's WiFi connectivity, it should be comforting to know that Samsung opted for a higher end Atheros WiFi chipset instead of sticking with the Cr-48's low-budget Realtek WiFi. It's likely Google will still tweak the Atheros driver over time to improve AP compatibility but having maintained a large wireless network at a University for 4 years, I've seen much fewer problems with Atheros based laptops than I have Realtek cards. Correction: The Cr-48 also had Atheros WiFi, my mistake.
  • iFixit lists it as a negative, but I have no issue with the internal battery, it makes the hardware look more fluid and who needs to swap batteries when one gives you 8.5 hours? But if it's not under the battery, where did Samsung hide the developer mode switch that Google promised would be on every Chromebook?