CES 2021 is underway and though the show is completely virtual this year, that hasn’t stopped companies from making some pretty big announcements for the upcoming year in tech. Just yesterday evening, Intel’s keynote delivered some great news for Chromebook fans in the realization of Intel Evo Chromebooks that should be shipping in Q1 of this year and we’re excited to see what manufacturers show up first with these next-gen devices.
On the other side of that coin, however, we have actual announcements for new Chromebooks that happened at CES already and those include the new AMD Ryzen-powered Chromebook Spin 514 from Acer and the red, eye-catching Samsung Galaxy Chromebook 2. Neither of these devices fall into that Intel Evo-branded family, but they bring some interesting things to the table. Though some are already writing off Samsung’s latest Chromebook offering for being a bit of a stat sheet letdown, I think there’s still reason to be excited for it even if it isn’t part of the latest, greatest Chromebook group.
For a few years now, we’ve been pretty used to Samsung setting the trend with high-end Chromebooks. From the Chromebook Pro to last year’s Galaxy Chromebook, Samsung has pushed the upper edges of the Chromebook market in both hardware and price range. With this year’s offering, however, they’ve dialed things back a bit and chosen a more moderate approach to building a great Chromebook for a wider audience.
We talked about all this in our original article about the Galaxy Chromebook 2, so I’ll link you there for the specs and all the ways this latest device deviates from its predecessor in the event you are not aware. Looking at spec sheets only allows you to see part of the overall story, though, and I think for those of you wanting to quickly write off this Chromebook because it has 10th-gen processors and a bit less pizzazz than the original, I think you may want to take a closer look.
I’m reminded of the Pixelbook Go that, like the Galaxy Chromebook 2, showed up with a smaller price tag than its older siblings while toting a year-old processor. The 8th-gen Kaby Lake processor in that Chromebook was the exact same processor the Pixel Slate debuted with over a year prior. The screen was “just 1080p” when other Google-made Chromebooks were QHD or higher and it wasn’t a convertible, detachable or tablet. On a spec sheet, it looked like a big step back to save a few hundred dollars off the price of a standard Pixelbook.
But to this day, the Pixelbook Go is still one of my favorite Chromebooks to pick up and use. The build quality, speakers, keyboard, trackpad and overall look/feel make the experience of using that Chromebook an absolute knockout. When I used it on a daily basis, I never really thought much about what it didn’t have when compared to the Pixelbook or Pixel Slate. All I thought about was how much I enjoyed using it.
While I can’t know that will be the case for the Galaxy Chromebook 2, I get the feeling that is exactly the lane Samsung is aiming for with this one. Sure, there are downgrades when compared to the original Galaxy Chromebook and yes, those things save money. But in the end, if the experience of using it, of staring into that fantastic QLED screen, of listening to rich sound from the speakers Samsung can’t help but mention over and over again, and of looking at the beautiful red design all comes together to make this device a joy to use, are the internal specs that big of an issue? Are they worth the outright dismissal we’re seeing from some users? We’ll know soon enough, I suppose, but count me among the hopeful crowd that feels Samsung might just know what they are doing with this one and may just deliver a rock-solid Chrome OS experience in the Galaxy Chromebook 2.