Samsung Chromebook Pro ($549.99) is the first Chromebook that has an embedded stylus and can run Android apps out of the box, and both features add a ton of functionality to Google’s lightweight operating system.
A very long list of features for the price, including a QHD touch display, hybrid hinge and included stylus. Adding support for the Google Play app store means this Chromebook can access a wide range of software.
Throw in a thin, premium build and a vivid, albeit oddly shaped 12.3-inch display, and you have one of the best Chromebooks on the market right now. Some Android apps when used from the still-in-beta Google Play Store simply didn’t work well. However, even if you’re getting a Chromebook because you just want Google’s browser-centric operating system, the Chromebook Pro stands out from the crowd.
Design: The Chromebook Pro is sleek but very minimalist. The aluminum chassis isn’t as wide as you would expect on most notebooks, and it took me awhile to get used to the shape. The lid is very plain, with rounded edges and no adornments, except for a monochromatic Chrome emblem and Samsung branding.
Samsung Chromebook Pro, lifting the lid revealed the 12.3-inch, 3200 x 1800 touch screen, which was a bit of a shock. Rather than the average 16:9 width-to-height ratio display that most laptops use, the Chromebook Pro employs a 3:2 ratio.
You still get a full island-style keyboard and a trackpad, but they’re jammed into a chassis with very little room on the side. This is necessary in order to accommodate the screen’s shape.
Samsung Chromebook Pro is a 2-in-1; it can be used as a regular notebook, a tablet (by folding the keyboard all of the way back), a display (with the keyboard face down and the display pointing forward).
With 2.4 pounds and 11.1 x 8.7 x 0.6 inches, this hybrid is among the thinnest and lightest Chromebooks, seen so far.
Ports: Samsung Chromebook Pro Chromebooks rely a lot on the cloud, so it’s not a surprise that Samsung’s laptop is not bursting with ports. A headphone jack, microSD card reader and a USB Type-C port are on the left, and the right side of the machine has a single USB-C port and a slot to hold the included stylus. Because the two USB Type-C ports are used for charging, you can use only one port when the laptop is plugged in.
Display: The 12.3-inch, 2400 x 1600 panel is among the most crisp and colorful I’ve seen on a Chromebook. The Chromebook Pro’s display reproduces 118 percent of the sRGB color gamut, surpassing the 99 percent ultraportable average, and the scores of the Chromebook Flip (76 percent) and R 13 (64 percent). And those colors are fairly, accurate, too. The display is far more luminous than those of the competition.
The screen uses a 3:2 ratio rather than a typical 16:9, which was hard to adjust to in laptop mode. However, it’s perfect for a tablet, especially one with an uber-responsive touch panel.
Keyboard and Touchpad: The Chromebook Pro’s island-style keyboard provides a mediocre typing experience. It has just 1.2 millimeters of travel and requires 52 grams of force to press. The result is a set of spongy keys and is possible for more typing errors than usual.
The 4.1 x 2.9-inch touchpad is smooth, spacious and accurate. The pad worked flawlessly.
Stylus: The Chromebook Pro is the first Chromebook to come with an embedded stylus. The pen pops straight out of a slot on the right side of the computer and looks almost identical to the S Pen that Samsung uses in its Note series of phones.
Samsung Chromebook Pro popping out stylus automatically launches a menu with quick actions to capture all or part of the screen, start a new note in Google Keep, or use the pen as a magnifying glass or laser pointer on the screen. The stylus is pressure-sensitive, which allowed to make subtle changes in the lines.
Audio: Speakers on the Chromebook Pro are not very loud, and they struggled to fill a midsize conference room with sound.
Performance: The Chromebook Pro is powered by an Intel Core m3-6Y30 CPU, with 4GB of RAM and 32GB of eMMC storage. That’s more than enough performance for multitasking.
Chrome OS and Android: The Chromebook Pro is the first Chromebook to support Android apps out of the box. Keep in mind that the Acer Chromebook R 11, Asus Chromebook Flip and Google’s own 2015 Chromebook Pixel had early support, and every Chromebook that launches in 2017 will eventually work with Android apps.
Samsung Chromebook Pro, installing Android apps is as easy as opening the Google Play Store and downloading apps like you would on your phone. Not every app works, though. In the future, I think most major Android apps will be compatible with this notebook.
You can have multiple windows open with different Android apps running. Swiping down with three fingers on the trackpad makes it fairly easy to switch windows. Just keep in mind that you can’t snap windows side by side as you can in Windows 10, nor is there support for virtual desktops.
Android apps are a very welcome addition. Otherwise, Chrome OS is mostly the same, with the browser as the main focus, a task bar at the bottom that provides easy access to programs and Wi-Fi required for the majority of apps to work. If you prefer simplicity, it’s perfect, but you won’t get all of the features you’ll find in Windows or mac OS.
Battery Life: The Chromebook Pro should last throughout your 9 to 5. The notebook endured for 8 hours and 5 minutes on the Laptop Mag Battery Test, which consists of continuous web browsing over Wi-Fi. The ultraportable average is lower, at 8:06, while the Flip (8:52) and R 13 (11:00) both outperformed the Chromebook Pro.
Webcam: The 720p webcam on the Chromebook Pro is serviceable. It’s sharp and detailed, catching individual hairs on my head and creases in my shirt, but the light coming in from the windows blew out my face a bit.
Heat: The Chromebook Pro stayed nice and cool throughout our testing, never surpassing our 95-degree Fahrenheit comfort threshold. When streamed a 15 minutes of HD video from YouTube, the bottom of the laptop hit 90 degrees, the keyboard between the G and H keys measured 86 degrees, and the touchpad reached 82 degrees.
Both the Plus and the Pro come with one-year warranties. See how Samsung did on our Tech Support Showdown and Best and Worst Brand Ratings.
Bottom Line: The Samsung Chromebook Pro is the first Chromebook to include an embedded stylus and support Android apps as soon as you log in. Its lightweight, aluminum chassis and crisp, vivid display also help define this machine as a premium 2-in-1.