Samsung Chromebook Plus

After 3.5 years, I'm finally replacing my beloved HP Chromebook 11 (2013) with the Samsung Chromebook Plus (2017). These are my thoughts on this fancy new device.

Chromebook Plus

What I Like

The Samsung Chromebook Plus is USB-C Powered. My absolute favorite feature of the HP Chromebook 11 was that I could charge it via Micro USB. If you haven't enjoyed that feature yourself, you can imagine what it's like by considering any time you had to buy a replacement charger, or a spare to carry with you. Not every charger will deliver the full power you need, but any will deliver enough to charge your Chromebook overnight, or at your desk at work, or in the car. Can you power your laptop with the same spare battery you sometimes charge your phone with? I can.

Like any new Chromebook, the Plus supports Android apps. Shrug. There are a few Android apps that I like having on my Chromebook because there aren't viable native (ahem, web) alternatives. Having Android apps on Chrome OS is a bigger deal for Google than it is for you, but it's nice to have.

The Chromebook Plus is fast and light. It's refreshing and efficient to wait (weight?) less.

What I Don't Like

It's convertible. Someone is going to say they like that, but not me. I've owned a few tablets, so let me tell you that the worst possible back for a tablet is a disabled keyboard. You want something you can lay on a table, or hold in your hand, not a keyboard.

It has a pen. Why does it have a pen? I don't like touching my screen, with or without a pen. I guess it's a Samsung thing to have a pen. I may click it sometimes while I wait for my genuine Fidget Cube to ship. It has a clicky thing on the end.

The beautiful high DPI display has a 3:2 aspect ratio. I'm much happier with 16:9. Not that I'll watch a lot of movies on it. Maybe it's a matter of taste. Or maybe it has to do with where human eyes our placed in our heads. I could almost forgive a 4:3, but 3:2 is nearly square.

But wait! Chrome OS has no DPI control. It sorta did long ago, but lately the way you make a 2400x1600 display readable today is... to drive it at 1200x800. I'm not kidding. The default "Best" setting for the display is 4 square pixels per, um, pixel. With any luck Google is planning on fixing this in an update.

I use a MacBook Pro for work. It has a lit keyboard. The one premium feature the Chromebook Plus glaringly lacks is a lit keyboard. Unless you think force touch is a premium feature. Then you're wrong. That's annoying.

Another thing that was great about the HP Chromebook 11 was the audio. They put the speakers under the keyboard somehow, and it sounded fantastic. The Chromebook Plus has speakers on the bottom where your desk will distort the sound in ways Samsung can't possibly engineer around. It's not terrible, but it's not good.

And there are some things not quite right with networking. First, Android apps have trouble scanning your local network. For example, you can install the Logitech Harmony Remote app, but you'll have to enter the IP address of your Harmony Hub manually. Also, I get a pretty solid 36Mbps on my Google Pixel (exactly as much as I pay Frontier FiOS for) but on the Plus it varies down to as little as 30Mbps.

Conclusion

Would I recommend you buy it? Absolutely. Give me a web browser and an SSH terminal and I've got everything I need. I know it sounds like there's a lot more I dislike than like, but quality trumps quantity, and for me the pros here outweigh the cons. This is the finest little Chromebook you can buy today.

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