Samsung Series 5 Chromebook
|Product type||Personal computer - Notebook|
|Introduced||15 June 2011|
A Chromebook is a personal computer running Google Chrome OS as its operating system. The devices are designed to be used while connected to the Internet and support applications that reside on the Web, rather than traditional PC applications like Microsoft Office and Photoshop that reside on the machine itself.
The first Chromebooks for sale, by Acer Inc. and Samsung, were announced at the Google I/O conference in May 2011 and began shipping on 15 June 2011. Lenovo, Hewlett Packard and Google itself entered the market in early 2013. In addition to laptop models, a desktop version, called a Chromebox, was introduced in May 2012.
Chromebooks are primarily sold online, both directly from Google and from the company's retail partners. By 2012, schools had become the largest category of customer. That October, Google broadened its marketing strategy to include first-time computer users and households seeking an additional computer. Critical reaction to the device was initially skeptical, with some reviewers, like Joey Sneddon and David Pogue, unfavorably comparing the value proposition of Chromebooks with that of more fully featured laptops running the Microsoft Windows operating system. That complaint dissipated in reviews of machines from Acer and Samsung that were priced at $200 and $250, respectively. In February 2013, Google announced and began shipping the Chromebook Pixel, a high-end machine priced at $1299.
In October 2012 Simon Phipps, writing in InfoWorld, said "the Chromebook line is probably the most successful Linux desktop/laptop computer we've seen to date." Measures of overall success are mixed. As of May 2013, the Samsung Series 3 Chromebook has led Amazon's list of best-selling laptops, a position it established when it launched in October 2012. But in April 2013, NetMarketShare, in its first week of monitoring worldwide usage of Chrome OS, reported that Chromebooks accounted for only 0.023% of Web traffic, which was just 0.7% of the traffic generated by Windows 8 PCs.
Chromebooks are shipped with Google Chrome OS, an operating system that uses the Linux kernel, and the Google Chrome web browser with an integrated media player. With limited offline capability and a boot time, according to Google, of eight seconds (actual boot time varies depending on hardware, e.g. the Acer C7 is claimed by Google to boot in 18 seconds), Chromebooks are primarily designed to be used while connected to the Internet. Instead of installing traditional applications such as word processing and instant messaging, users add web apps from the Chrome Web Store. Google claims that a multi-layer security architecture eliminates the need for anti-virus software.
Support for many USB devices such as cameras, mice, external keyboards and flash drives is included, utilizing a feature similar to plug-and-play on other operating systems. Like the prototype Cr-48, Chromebooks have a specialized keyboard complete with buttons for opening and controlling multiple browser windows, as well as a Web search button which replaces the caps lock key (caps lock being activated by pressing both shift keys together).
An analysis of the Samsung Series 5 components by iFixit in June 2011 estimated that the unit cost about US$322 in materials and US$12 in labor costs. With a retail price of US$499.99 and shipping, marketing, research and development and retail margins to account for this indicates that the profit margins on the Chromebooks are quite thin, requiring a large production run to make a profit.
CR-48 prototype 
At a December 7, 2010 press briefing, Google announced the first Chromebook, the Cr-48 laptop, a reference hardware design to test the Chrome OS operating system. The machine was named after Chromium-48, an unstable isotope of the metallic element Chromium. The laptop's design broke convention by replacing the caps lock key with a dedicated search key.
The Cr-48 was intended for testing only, not retail sales. Google addressed complaints that the operating system offers little functionality when the host device is not connected to the Internet, demonstrated an offline version of Google Docs, and announced a 3G plan that would give users 100 MB of free data each month, with additional paid plans available from Verizon.
Google distributed about 60,000 Cr-48s to testers and reviewers in early December 2010. Reviewers concluded that while the project held promise, it still had some distance to go before being ready for market. The last of the CR-48s were shipped in March 2011.
The Cr-48 notebooks featured some unused hardware components, including a Bluetooth 2.1 controller. The USB port could support a keyboard, mouse, Ethernet adapter, or USB storage, but not a printer, as Google OS offers no print stack . Adding further hardware outside of the previously mentioned items will likely cause problems with the operating system's "self knowing" security model. Users instead were encouraged to use a secure service called Google Cloud Print to print to legacy printers connected to their desktop computers, or to connect an HP ePrint, Kodak Hero, Kodak ESP, or Epson Connect printer to the Google Cloud Print service for a "cloud aware" printer connection.
Commercial machines 
Google initially named several development partners working on hardware for the operating system, with others named in the press, including Acer, Adobe, Asus, Freescale, Hewlett-Packard, Lenovo, Qualcomm, Texas Instruments, Toshiba, Intel, Samsung, and Dell.
The first two commercially available Chromebooks, manufactured by Samsung and Acer, were announced on May 11, 2011 at the Google I/O developer conference. Retail prices began at $349, with a ship date on June 15 for the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Netherlands, Italy and Spain. Retail partners in the United States included Amazon and Best Buy.  Google also announced a monthly payment scheme for business and education customers at $28 and $20 per user per month, respectively, for a three-year contract, including replacements and upgrades.
Functionally similar to the Cr-48, the Chromebooks were available in both Wi-Fi and 3G versions from both manufacturers. The Samsung Chromebook had a 12.1 inch 1280×800 screen and a Mini-VGA port. The Acer Chromebook had an 11.6-inch (290 mm) screen and HDMI output. Both versions include an HD webcam and two USB 2.0 ports. Neither Chromebook, nor subsequent models, featured an optical disc drive, as both data and applications are meant to reside in the cloud, with applications downloadable via the Chrome Web Store or Google Play.
Google claimed an eight-second bootup time and eight-hour operation on one battery charge, and said that the chromebooks would require no virus protection. Models equipped with 3G connectivity receive 100 megabytes of wireless data per month, free for two years, with an additional gigabyte at $20 per month. Samsung introduced the first a Chrome OS desktop machine called a Chromebox, in May 2012.
The two lowest cost Chromebooks emerged in the fall of 2012: the $250 Samsung Series 3 and the $200 Acer C7. The following February, Google itself introduced the most costly machine, the Chromebook Pixel, with a starting price of $1300.
|Available||Manufacturer||Model||Processor||Battery life||RAM||Storage||Screen size||Weight||Base price||Origin||References|
|Dec 2010||Cr-48 (prototype)||1.66 GHz Intel Atom N455||9 hours||2 GB DDR3||16 GB SSD||12.1 in (30.7 cm)||3.8 lb (1.7 kg)||Not for retail sale||China|||
|Jun 2011||Samsung||Series 5
|1.66 GHz Intel Atom N570||6.5 hours||2 GB DDR3||16 GB SSD||12.1 in (30.7 cm)||3.06–3.26 lb (1.4–1.5 kg)||US$349.99 Wi-Fi
|Jul 2011||Acer||AC700||1.66 GHz Intel Atom N570||6 hours||2 GB DDR3||16 GB SSD||11.6 in (29.5 cm)||3.19 lb (1.4 kg)||US$299.99 Wi-Fi
|May 2012||Samsung||Series 5
|1.3 GHz Intel Celeron 867||6 hours||4 GB DDR3||16 GB SSD||12.1 in (30.7 cm)||3.3 lb (1.5 kg)||US$449.99 Wi-Fi
|Oct 2012||Samsung||Series 3
|1.7 GHz Samsung Exynos 5 Dual||6.5 hours||2 GB DDR3||16 GB SSD||11.6 in (29.5 cm)||2.43 lb (1.1 kg)||US$249.99 Wi-Fi
|Nov 2012||Acer||C7||1.1 GHz Intel Celeron 847||4 hours||2 GB DDR3||320 GB HDD||11.6 in (29.5 cm)||3 lb (1.4 kg)||US$199.99 Wi-Fi|||
|February 2013||HP||Chromebook Pavilion||1.1 GHz dual-core Intel Celeron 847||4.25 hours||2 GB DDR3||16 GB SSD||14 in (35.6 cm)||3.96 lb (1.8 kg)||US$329.99 with Dual band Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n and Ethernet||TBA|||
|Lenovo||X131e||Intel Celeron processor||6.5 hours||4 GB||16 GB SSD||11.6 in (29.5 cm)||3.92 lb (1.8 kg)||US$429 with Dual band Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n and Ethernet||TBC (probably China)|||
|February 2013 (Wi-Fi)
April 2013 (LTE)
|Chromebook Pixel||1.8GHz dual-core Intel Core i5 3427U||5 hours||4 GB||32 GB SSD with Wi-Fi
64 GB with LTE
|12.85 in (32.6 cm)||3.35 lb (1.5 kg)||US$1299 with Wi-Fi
US$1449 with LTE
Chromeboxes are the desktop variants of Chromebooks. Samsung has released the first Chromebox.
|Available||Manufacturer||Model||Processor||RAM||Hard drive||Size||Weight||Base price||Origin||References|
|May 2012||Samsung||Series 3
|1.9 GHz dual-core Intel Celeron B840||4 GB||16 GB SSD||1.3″×7.5″×7.5″||2.64 lb (1.2 kg)||$329.99||China|||
|January 2012||Samsung||Series 3
|2.5 GHz Intel Core i5-2450M||4 GB||16 GB SSD||1.3″×7.6″×7.6″||5.82 lb (2.6 kg)||$499.99||China|||
|March 2013||Samsung||Series 3
|1.9 GHz Celeron B840||4 GB||16 GB SSD||1.57 x 8.10 x 8.10 inches||1.8 lb (0.8 kg)||$329.99||China|||
|TBA||Acer Inc.||TBA||2.7Ghz Intel Pentium G630||2 GB||500 GB hard drive||TBA||TBA||TBA||Not confirmed|||
Sales and marketing 
Since late 2010, Google's Chromebooks initiative has been headed by Rajen Sheth, best known as the "father of Google Apps". His strategy for marketing Chromebooks has centered on the total cost of ownership, which, he said, can be "dramatically" reduced by lower maintenance, management and security costs, even if hardware costs remain unchanged.
Chromebooks began selling through online channels, including Amazon and Best Buy in the U.S., and in some European countries starting 15 June 2011. The first machines sold for between $349 and $499, depending on model and whether 3G was included. Google also offered a monthly payment scheme for business and education customers at $28 and $20 per user, per month, respectively for a three-year contract, including replacements and upgrades. Verizon offered 100 megabytes of wireless data per month, with an additional gigabyte at $20 per month.
Google's early marketing efforts relied primarily on hands-on experience: giving away Samsung machines to 10 Cr-48 pilot program participants along with the title Chromebook Guru and loaning Chromebooks to passengers on some Virgin America flights. At the end of September 2011, Google launched the Chrome Zone, a "store within a store", inside the Currys and PC World superstore in London. The store had a Google-style look and feel with splashes of color all around the retail store front. Google said it was planning to open more Chrome Zones in the UK over the next few months.
In addition to these marketing strategies, Google Chrome has created several "Chromebook minis" that demonstrate the ease of use and simplicity of the devices in a comical manner. For example, when the question "How do you back up a Chromebook" is asked, it is implied to refer to data backup, but instead, shows two hands pushing a Chromebook back to the end of a table. This is followed by the statement, "You don't have to back up a Chromebook," showing how all data is stored on the web.
On 21 November 2011, Google announced price reductions on all Chromebooks. Since then, the Wi-Fi-only Samsung Series 5 was reduced to $349, the 3G Samsung Series 5 was reduced to $449, and the Acer AC700 was reduced to $299. By January 2012, commercial sales for Chromebooks were flat, with the exception of the education market. Google had placed nearly 27,000 Chromebooks in schools across 41 states, including "one-on-one" programs, which allocate a computer for every student, in South Carolina, Illinois, and Iowa. As of August 2012, over 500 school districts in the United States and Europe were using the device, as well as universities, corporations and government facilities.
By January 2013, Acer's Chromebook sales were being driven by "heavy Internet users with educational institutions", and the platform represented 5-10 percent of the company's U.S. shipments, according to Acer president Jim Wong. He called those numbers sustainable, contrasting them with low Windows 8 sales which he blamed for a slump in the market. Wong said that the company would consider marketing Chromebooks to other developed countries, as well as to corporations. He noted that although Chrome OS is free to license for hardware vendors, it has required greater marketing expenditure than Windows, offsetting the licensing savings.
The CR-48 prototype laptop gave reviewers their first opportunity to evaluate Chrome OS running on a device. Ryan Paul of Ars Technica wrote that the machine "met the basic requirements for Web surfing, gaming, and personal productivity, but falls short for more intensive tasks." He praised Google's approach to security, but wondered whether mainstream computer users would accept an operating system whose only application is a browser. He thought Chrome OS "could appeal to some niche audiences": people who just need a browser or companies that rely on Google Apps and other Web applications. But the operating system was "decidedly not a full-fledged alternative to the general purpose computing environments that currently ship on netbooks." Paul wrote that most of Chrome OS's advantages "can be found in other software environments without having to sacrifice native applications."
In reviewing the Cr-48 on December 29, 2010, Kurt Bakke of Conceivably Tech wrote that a Chromebook had become the most frequently used family appliance in his household. "Its 15 second startup time and dedicated Google user accounts made it the go-to device for quick searches, email as well as YouTube and Facebook activities." But the device did not replace other five notebooks in the house: one for gaming, two for the kids, and two more for general use. "The biggest complaint I heard was its lack of performance in Flash applications."
In ongoing testing, Wolfgang Gruener, also writing in Conceivably Tech, said that cloud computing at cellular data speeds is unacceptable and that the lack of offline ability turns the Cr-48 "into a useless brick" when not connected. "It's difficult to use the Chromebook as an everyday device and give up what you are used to on a Mac/Windows PC, while you surely enjoy the dedicated cloud computing capabilities occasionally."
Commercial machines 
Reviewing the Samsung Series 5 specifications, Scott Stein of CNET was unimpressed with a machine with a 12-inch screen and just 16 GB of onboard storage. "Chrome OS might be lighter than Windows XP, but we'd still prefer more media storage space. At this price, you could also get an 11.6-inch (290 mm) Wi-Fi AMD E-350-powered ultraportable running Windows 7." On the other hand, MG Siegler of TechCrunch wrote a largely favorable review, praising the improvements in speed and trackpad sensitivity over the CR-48 prototype, as well as the long battery life and the fact that all models are priced below the iPad.
In June 2011 iFixit dismantled a Samsung Series 5 and concluded that it was essentially an improved Cr-48. They rated it as 6/10 for repairability, predominantly because the case has to be opened to change the battery and because the RAM chip is soldered to the motherboard. iFixit noted that the "mostly-plastic construction" felt "a little cheap". On the plus side they stated that the screen was easy to remove and most of the components, including the solid state drive would be easy to replace. iFixit's Kyle Wiens wrote that the Series 5 "fixes the major shortfalls of the Cr-48 and adds the polish necessary to strike lust into the heart of a broad consumer base: sleek looks, 8+ hours of battery life, and optimized performance."
In an article published on ZDNet in June 2011, entitled "Five Chromebook concerns for businesses", Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols faulted the devices for lack of virtual private network capability, not supporting some Wi-Fi security methods, in particular Wi-Fi Protected Access II (WPA2) Enterprise with Extensible Authentication Protocol-Transport Layer Security (EAP-TLS) or Cisco’s Lightweight Extensible Authentication Protocol (LEAP). He also noted that its file manager does not work, the need to use the undocumented crosh shell to accomplish basic tasks such as setting up a secure shell (SSH) network connection as well as serious deficiencies in documentation.
In one of the first customer reviews, the City of Orlando, Florida reported on their initial testing of 600 Chromebooks as part of a broader study related to accessing virtual desktops. Early indications show potential value in reducing IT support costs. End users have indicated that the Chromebook is easy to travel with and starts up quickly. One stated that "If I just need to stay connected for emergencies, I take my Chrome," but when traveling for business she would still take her laptop. Orlando does plan to continue to use the Chromebooks.
Shortly after the Samsung Series 5 Chromebook was released to the public in July 2011, the review site Chromebook Ratings praised the Series 5 and its 8-second boot-up time, claiming that "You can literally go from a cold machine to searching the internet in about 10 seconds. It’s one thing to see it described, but it’s another to experience it first-hand." They also lauded the Series 5 for its "exceptionally long battery life" that exceeded the battery life of the Acer AC700 Chromebook.
Reviewing the Samsung Series 5 Chromebook in July 2011, Benjamin Humphrey of OMG! Ubuntu! concluded that while the device is "a lovely piece of hardware and a perfect start to the Chromebook lineup", it doesn't handle some of the basics: copy and paste in the File Manager or playback of common local formats. He noted Chrome OS's six-week release cycle that had already addressed some of his concerns and suggested that most people should hold out until later in the year "to let the software mature a bit more. If you’re simply after a tablet with a keyboard however, the Series 5 might just be the perfect purchase.
In May 2012, Samsung introduced the Chromebook Series 5 550, priced at US$449 for the Wi-Fi model and US$549 for 3G.
Reviews generally questioned the value proposition. Dana Wollman of Engadget wrote that the Chromebook's keyboard "put thousand-dollar Ultrabooks to shame" and offered better display quality than on many laptops selling for twice as much. But the price "seems to exist in a vacuum—a place where tablet apps aren't growing more sophisticated, where Transformer-like Win8 tablets aren't on the way and where there aren't some solid budget Windows machines to choose from."
Joey Sneddon of OMG! Chrome! in May 2012 also found fault with Samsung's pricing, arguing that $500 is unrealistic. "People coming to ChromeOS will be prepared to make sacrifices – but more money for less speed is unlikely to be one of them. I can’t help but feel that Samsung have priced the Chromebook to fail."
Joe Wilcox of BetaNews wrote that "price to performance and how it compares to other choices" is "where Chromebook crumbles for many potential buyers." He noted that the new models sell for more than their predecessors, and while the price-performance ratio is quite favorable compared to the MacBook Air, "by the specs, there are plenty of lower-cost options."
Series 3, C7 
In October 2012, the Series 3 Chromebook was introduced at a San Francisco event with the Samsung Chromebook XE303. The device was priced at $249 and was thinner and lighter than the Chromebook 550. Google marketed the Series 3 as the computer for everyone, due to its simple operating system (Chrome OS) and affordable price. Target markets included students and first-time computer users, as well as households looking for an extra computer.
The lower price proved a watershed for some reviewers. New York Times technology columnist David Pogue reversed his earlier thumbs-down verdict on the Chromebook, writing that "$250 changes everything." The price is half that of an "iPad, even less than an iPad Mini or an iPod Touch. And you’re getting a laptop." He wrote that the Chromebook does many of the things people use computers and laptops for: playing flash videos, and opening Microsoft Office documents. "In other words, Google is correct when it asserts that the Chromebook is perfect for schools, second computers in homes and businesses who deploy hundreds of machines."
Joey Sneddon of OMG! Chrome! also praised the pricing on the Series 3 Chromebook on 18 October 2012, indicating that Samsung had at last got it right. "We weren’t alone in criticising the prices of the Samsung Series 550 Chromebook released earlier this year. They were priced above and beyond the ‘tipping’ point of casual consumers, and sat firmly in the enthusiast land" resulting in sales below Google's expectations. Acer's second generation Chromebook was also missing in action, he wrote. But not ready to give up, "Google and Samsung are back with a newer, cheaper, ARM-powered Chromebook."
CNET's review of the Series 3 Chromebook was even more favorable, saying the machine largely delivered as a computer for students and as an additional computer for a household--especially for users who are already using Google Web applications like Google Docs, Google Drive, and Gmail. "It's got workable if not standout hardware, its battery life is good, it switches on quickly, and the $249 price tag means it's not as much of a commitment as the $550 Samsung Series 5 550 that arrived in May." The review subtracted points for performance. "It's fine for many tasks, but power users accustomed to having more than a couple dozen browser tabs open should steer clear."
Chromebook Pixel 
In February 2013, Google introduced and shipped the 32 GB Chromebook Pixel, whose $1299 price was more than six times that of the lowest cost Chromebook, the Acer C7. The Pixel drew praise for its exterior design and high resolution screen, said to have the highest pixels-per-inch of any laptop. But early reviews questioned the value of a high-end laptop that only supports Web applications, when similarly priced machines (like Apple's MacBook Air) also support conventional applications. The Pixel departed from Google's strategy of producing inexpensive machines, and some observers speculated that the company was less interested in sales than in burnishing the Chromebook family's overall reputation with a faster, more stylish device.
In reviewing the first Samsung Chromebox desktop PC released in May 2012, Joey Sneddon of OMG! Chrome! described it as a "tough sell". Google, Samsung and Acer, he wrote, have already had a tough time selling the Chrome OS concept. He expected Chrome OS on a PC to encounter similar hurdles, with success "far from certain. And if the steep pricing by TigerDirect holds true then Samsung may find themselves with an uphill struggle on their hands in gaining the device traction with consumers."
Android laptop 
In April 2013, Intel said that its Bay Trail chips will be used in a series of inexpensive touchscreen laptops primarily running Google's Android operating system. The move would create a direct competitor to Chromebooks (as well as Windows 8 laptops) using Google's other operating system.
Trademark dispute 
In June 2011, ISYS Technologies, based in Salt Lake City, sued Google in a Utah district court, claiming rights to the name "Chromium", and, by default, Chromebook and Chromebox. The suit sought to stop Google and its hardware and marketing partners from selling Chromebooks. The suit was later dismissed, and, as part of an undisclosed settlement, ISYS abandoned its trademark efforts.
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