Do you like comparing things? I do. We all do, if we’re being honest. And that predisposition caused us to take a bit longer on this review than we normally do. In fact, we actually shot the entire review twice because of it.
Look, I like a before and after, this vs. that just as much as the next person, but without being careful, the review of Samsung’s latest Chromebook could easily turn into an old vs. new instead of really examining whether or not this Chromebook is actually worth buying. We don’t want to do that here.
Just like every other device we review, we want to examine each part of the experience and tell you what we think about it
So, with that in mind, let’s take a closer look at the Samsung Chromebook V2 and decide, based on what is on offer, whether or not this is a Chromebook you should consider purchasing.
Overall, Samsung has done a good job with the Plus V2. It maintains the same rounded look Samsung has used in the past and throws in an update on the color. Not quite space gray like a Macbook, this is a darker aluminum that other Chromebooks and looks really fantastic.
The bottom is plastic, but I’m not too bothered by it. After all, the HP 13 G1 and Acer Chromebook 15 both sport plastic bottoms and I’ve never been bothered by it in the least. The plastic on this device matches the powdered aluminum so well that many users will likely never notice it.
There’s a decent firmness to the chassis and keyboard deck, but you can get a bit of bend if you wrench it a bit. It does not, however, feel flimsy or cheap the way previous Samsung devices have.
The convertible is nothing new to Chromebooks, and this device handles the jobs as well as any other with firm hinges that keep the wobble down to a minimum. The screen portion is a bit heavy and makes for a bit of awkward weight distribution, but it never caused the device to topple over and isn’t noticeable on a desk or table at all.
It’s just a bit odd.
Speaking of the screen, Samsung put a quality panel in this one. With 300 nits of brightness, wide viewing angles, and a sharp 1920×1200 resolution, it’s easily one of the best panels on a Chromebook to date.
Sure, I prefer the 3:2 aspect ratio of the Pixelbook, HP Chromebook x2, and Samsung Chromebook Plus/Pro, but the 16:10 on offer is the same that Apple employs with their entire Macbook lineup, and it still does a good job of making the 12.2-inch screen feel a bit bigger.
With that resolution at that screen size, things stay nice and sharp and the processor doesn’t have to labor as much as it would with the 2400×1600 panel on something like the Pixelbook.
With Chrome OS’ scaling abilities these days, you still have plenty of options for how large things are on your screen, so overall the screen was very comfortable to use. The brightness only became an issue outdoors in direct sunlight, but I don’t see too many people using this device in those conditions on a regular basis.
I’ll put it plainly: Samsung killed it on input methods, here. They keyboard’s only fault is lack of backlighting, but I’m never a huge stickler on that. Sure, I’d love to see it here, but for me this isn’t a deal-breaker.
The keys feel great, have fantastic click and travel, and make long bouts of typing a breeze. It is second only to the Pixelbook in that regard.
The trackpad is equally pleasing, resisting oils and staying smooth for hours on end. The click mechanism is quiet and responsive as well, making this one of the best trackpads I’ve used. It isn’t glass, but as long as it performs this well, I honestly don’t care. Apart from the Pixelbook, this setup and HP Chromebook x2 easily have the best inputs on the market.
Lastly, the pen does exactly what you’d expect. It is garaged and out of the way until you need it. When you do, Samsung’s click to eject works great and the pen performs very well. They’ve really mastered the pen tip and screen feel, giving you just the right amount of lag on the surface to make writing feel very natural.
For the artists, we’re looking at EMR here, so those of you who are much more skilled at drawing than I am will be happy to hear that.
Though it is without surprises, the pen performs very well and I’m the first to appreciate the fact that I can hide it away inside the device until I need it. I don’t particularly care that it isn’t the size of an actual pen as long as it is right there when I need it.
Ports and Speakers
The port setup is increasingly standard with 2 USB Type C ports and a single USB Type A. With a microSD card slot and headphone/mic jack, everything you need is here.
I personally love having a USB Type A port on the device. As USB Type C hasn’t quite arrived at this point, I still find the need to employ Type A peripherals on a regular basis, so not having to use a dongle is a comforting add-on.
My only gripe is the placement of the USB Type C ports on the same side of the device. It simply limits flexibility. I’ve had plenty of scenarios where I needed to plug in on the left or right side of my Pixelbook exclusively and was glad to have the option. Samsung has removed that for this device, and I hate to see that. With USB Type C’s flexibility as a data/charging/display port, forcing users to only one side of the device is a bit of a bummer.
The speakers are quite nice, however. Not the loudest thing I’ve heard, but the sound is decidedly rounder and fuller than most Chromebooks. Sure, my Pixelbook is technically louder, but it is also a bit shrill and harsh.
The Plus V2 delivers sound that has much more depth and is far more pleasing to listen to than other devices.
So far, so good, right? Samsung has put together a pretty compelling package, but it all falls down if you can’t actually get anything done.
The good news is the Celeron 3965Y paired with 4GB of RAM and 32GB of internal eMMC storage can handle most things you throw at it.
While not a speed demon, the Intel silicon is much faster than the first Chromebook Plus and this is a needed upgrade. Getting around 14,000 on Octane and around a 70-75 on Speedometer puts this thing firmly in the middle of the pack, but real-world performance kept up with nearly everything I needed to do.
Even with a QHD extended display, the Samsung stayed snappy enough to handle multiple tabs, a graphic editor, IDE, music playback and other small tasks all at once. Sure, there were small stutters here and there, but nothing troubling enough to make me call it quits while working from it.
I’d firmly expect Samsung to roll out a new Chromebook Pro soon, so I didn’t expect top-tier processing for this one. What they are leveraging does the job and most users will be able to do most things on this device without breaking a sweat.
Battery life is also quite good, getting me around 8 hours most days. Hard use will dip it down to 7, but light browsing easily gets you in the 10-hour range without much fuss. Again, nothing mind-boggling, but solid.
Now we get to it, don’t we? Right now, the Samsung Chromebook Plus V2 retails for $499.
That is too much.
If (when) we see the price come down in the $425-$450 range, this discussion changes a bit. With the good screen, fantastic input methods, great speakers and snappy performance, Samsung has put together a great package.
But $500 feels a bit too steep with devices like the HP Chromebook x2 offering a lot more performance for not a ton more money. We’ve seen the HP even dip into the $550 range, so that is a much better purchase at that price.
The price on this one will drop as well, and when it does, I can easily recommend it to you. For $400-450, you’d be getting a good deal. For some reason, $500 just feels too expensive for me.
Right now, you can only order it through Samsung or Best Buy, so perhaps when sales expand a bit, the price will drop accordingly. The biggest problem for Samsung is the sheer volume of good/great Chromebooks on the horizon. I think with stiffer competition in this price segment over the next few months, they’ll have to drop the price to sell it against the coming competition.
When that happens, that would be the time to buy. Just not yet.