It’s art, but is it good?
Some people aren’t happy that the world of computing is dominated by Microsoft Window’s. Here at Computeractive, we’re fine with that. Yes. it can sometimes be annoying, but these days Windows works pretty well, and it gives you a huge choice of programs to run.
On the other hand, there’s Google’s Chrome OS. This lightweight operating system (OS) does away with most of the complexity and hassle of Windows, or even Apple’s macOS, by not really being much of an operating system at all, more like a glorified web browser.
There’s no denying it’s fast, but at this price we’d expect a better screen
One reason to buy a laptop that runs it – or a Chromebook. as Google encourages hardware makers to call them – is that it saws the few dozen quid that Microsoft charges in licensing fees. Another is that Google’s OS and its sort-of programs need less processing power, so you can get a cheaper laptop without it grinding to a halt just trying to display a login screen.
None of which explains why you’d pay for one. One glance at the Chromebook 13 G1 perhaps offers a few clues: its stylishly slim and light aluminium chassis houses a 3200×1800-pixel screen – basically a 27in monitor packed into 13.3 inches, that’s good if you want to see a lot on your screen at once, but unlike Windows. Chrome OS doesn’t scale the cursor and icons up when the pixels get smaller, so unless you have very sharp eyes you may have to turn the resolution down anyway. Poor contrast and only middling color reproduction didn’t endear us to the screen.
An Intel m3 processor with 4GB of memory is high end for a Chromebook, ensuring wry fast performance. But it’s obviously pushed the price up. A Pentium version is still expensive while offering a lot less speed. And at seven hours 20 minutes of video playback, battery life didn’t particularly impress us.
The keyboard and touchpad were comfortable and responsive, though.
A microSD card lets you expand the 32GB of storage if you don’t like to rely on the cloud, and you can plug an external monitor into one of the two USB Type C sockets.
Although the number of Chrome apps is limited. Google is adapting the OS to run Android apps from the Google Play store. The Chromebook 13 is on the list of models due to support this, but without a touchscreen we’re not sure how many Android apps will be usable.
Intel m3-6Y30 dual-core processor • 4GB memory • 32VB flash storage • 13.3in 3200×1800-pixel screen
• Webcam • 802.11ac Wi-Fi • Bluetooth 4 2 • 1x USB 3.1 port »2x USB Type-C ports • MicroSD card reader
• 12.7x319x219mm (Hx WxD) • 12kg
There’s no denying this is an unusually powerful and beautifully built Chromebook, but we’d still think twice about buying It
See also THE COMPLETE GUIDE TO…OLED laptops
Samsung Chromebook Pro
This hybrid high-res touchscreen model will arrive soon with the Google Play store ready to use