Samsung Chromebook Plus

The Samsung Chromebook Plus ($449.99) combines the strengths of a laptop, like a stable hardware keyboard, with a tablet’s light weight and responsive touch screen. This 2-in-1 convertible is also one of the new wave of chromebooks that can run Android apps, in addition to the browser-based ChromeOS. That means you can access the millions of apps, games, and utilities from the Google Play store. It is a bit pricey for a chromebook, due in part to its 2,400-by-1,600-resolution screen and premium, metal build, but these features and the included Samsung Pen make it worth a look, if you have a flexible budget and you don’t need Windows.

Metal Construction, Minimalist Design

Like the Asus Chromebook Flip

Microsoft Surface Pro 4, the 3:2 aspect ratio screen is narrower than the 16:9 displays you see on most current laptops. This makes the Chromebook Pro easy to use as a drawing tablet. The long overhang on a 16:9 convertible feels awkward; it’s like carrying a legal-size paper pad versus a letter-size one. Holding the laptop in Tablet mode in the crook of one arm and drawing on its screen with the bundled stylus feels almost as natural as writing on a sheet of paper.

Samsung Chromebook Plus

There are disadvantages to this approach, however. One of the most noticeable is letterboxing, in which there are black bars above and below videos formatted for a 16:9 screen. Other less noticeable nits are the relatively narrow Backspace, Backslash, Enter, Right Shift and Tab keys on the chiclet-style keyboard. If you’re a touch typist, they could be an issue. If you really need full-size keys for typing for long periods of time, then you may want to choose a larger laptop, like the Acer Chromebook 15

Lenovo Yoga 710 (11″)

Galaxy Tab S3Samsung Chromebook Pro.

There are two USB-C ports (one on either side), which support displays and can be used to charge the laptop with the included USB-C charger. There are also a microSD card reader and a headset jack on the left side, but that’s it for wired connectivity. You’ll need adapters for older USB 3.0 storage devices, HDMI displays, wired Ethernet, and USB printers. Wireless connectivity includes 802.11ac Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.0.

Samsung Chromebook Plus

Android Apps on a Chromebook

Support for Android apps on ChromeOS is available out of the box, though dialog boxes still claim that the support is in beta. Apps we downloaded from the Google Play store, like Disney Movies Anywhere and Asphalt 8, worked great. Asphalt 8 ran smoothly in testing, and you can control the game using the laptop’s gyroscope and accelerometers. While playing a driving game on a 12.3-inch laptop in Tablet mode is technically something you can do, the 2.34-pound system is a bit heavy to game on for very long. Holding the Chromebook Plus straight out with both hands, my arms started to tire after a few levels on Asphalt 8; in contrast, playing the same game on my 7-ounce phone was no problem.

Memory and Storage

Most chromebooks come with only 2GB of memory, which is certainly enough for day-to-day browsing and video viewing, and it keeps the price down. The Chromebook Plus comes with 4GB, so it can handle more than a dozen open browser tabs. Likewise, some less expensive chromebooks only give you 16GB of local storage, while pricier systems like the Chromebook Plus and the Dell Chromebook 3189 Education 2-in-1

Asus Transformer Mini (T102HA-D4-GR) Windows laptop manages capable, if unexciting, performance, thanks to its quad-core Intel Atom x5 processor. You can expect similar performance from the Chromebook Plus.

Battery life is good, though not excellent, at 8 hours and 54 minutes. That’s better than some laptops, like the Windows-based Lenovo IdeaPad 110S

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