Around here, we’ve not been shy in talking about the worldwide pandemic currently clutching the entirety of Earth’s population. Have we focused only on that in the past weeks as all our realities have been shifting beneath us? Absolutely not. There are hoards of news sites and channels that talk about COVID-19 around the clock and there’s little we really have to add to that conversation.
Instead, our approach has been quite singular: make content around things that can help people out in the current crisis when appropriate, but above all, continue creating content that is focused on what we’ve always focused on. We’re a small site dedicated to Chrome, Chrome OS, and Google’s ecosystem of software and hardware. In a present reality where it is increasingly hard to remember what we were all doing before COVID-19 wrecked everything around us, it is also increasingly easy to focus on the virus and the virus alone.
There’s little we can add to that narrative at this point, but we can continue to tell the stories around software and hardware that both matter to many of you now and will matter after this crisis has passed. We’ve also heard from countless readers that they love having non-virus-related content still there to read in the midst of all this downtime, and we’re glad to still be in a position to deliver it.
And it is in that spirit that I can write a title like I wrote above. Speaking quite candidly, if I’m not careful, I can let myself go down a rabbit hole of research and hearsay surrounding the coronavirus pandemic. It is quite easy to do and I’m sure many of you reading this have done the same thing. Yet, in the midst of all this dark, there are still little lights to look forward to. Things to get excited about. Stuff that, quite frankly, reminds us of what life was like before the pandemic.
Monday’s somewhat fumbled, upcoming launch of the Samsung Galaxy Chromebook is – for geeks like myself – an exciting time in the Chrome OS world. Having spent a few sessions with this device at CES 2020 back in January (which, by the way, feels like an eternity ago), I can still say there’s a real chance that this will not only be the best Chromebook of 2020: it may be the best Chromebook ever made.
Those are big statements and I wouldn’t make them if I didn’t think this device had the chance to actually deliver on them. But, more important than the spec sheet and the limited hands-on experience I’ve had with this new Chromebook, I’d say the eager anticipation I have for this device is unlike anything I’ve experienced in quite some time. We review and use a lot of great Chromebooks. It’s a perk of the job and I flat-out love that. But if I were to rate my anticipation for a device on a scale of 1-10, a standard Chromebook arrival is somewhere around a 6 or 7. Maybe an 8 for a device I have high hopes for.
With the Galaxy Chromebook, it is pushing 11. Seriously, I haven’t been this excited for a new gadget in a long, long time. I haven’t looked and re-looked at videos for an upcoming piece of tech like this in years. Maybe I was this excited by the Pixelbook, but that was more about Chromebooks escaping the clutches of death in 2016 and finding new life in a new Google-made Chromebook with new abilities like Android apps and pen support. That one was awesome, but my excitement was more about the survival and maturation of the platform, not just the Chromebook itself.
With the Samsung Galaxy Chromebook, I’m infatuated with the device simply for the device’s sake. We talk a lot about peak hardware. Much digital ink has been spilled on the web about whether or not we’ve reached peak slab smartphone, for instance. Years on years of small iterations have begged the question of whether or not each successive device is really – really – better than the last.
But we’ve not hit peak Chromebook yet. We’re still in the lovely/aching phase where big changes are needed and each hardware cycle still has massive cracks in the facade that indicate more maturation is needed. But holding the Galaxy Chromebook in January, I remember remarking how tough it was going to be to review this Chromebook. Not because it had so many flaws, but because it got so much right. How do you critically review a device that is so good at so much?
I’ve been so frustrated with screens in Chromebooks for the past year, but that’s clearly not a problem with the 4K AMOLED screen on the Galaxy Chromebook. I’ve complained about build quality and attention to detail in the chassis of Chromebooks, but the Samsung looks as pristine as anything I’ve ever seen in a laptop. And my God that red color. I’ve been harsh on devices with pen support that don’t have a place to keep the pen. I’ve fielded concerns about spotty WiFi and Bluetooth in older Chromebooks. I’ve moaned about shoddy keyboards and missing backlights and absent fingerprint scanners. I’ve been so aggravated by the fact that no one has managed to just put all the pieces together in one, singular package.
Yet, Samsung went and did it. Not only on a spec sheet, either. The only device I’ve ever held in my hands that exuded the fit and finish I see in the Galaxy Chromebook is the original Pixelbook. Yet, even with that vaunted device, there were design choices that held it back. Silicon palm rests? Huge bezels? No place for the stylus? Awful speakers?
To be fair, those are the only real glaring faults, but they are pain points for sure. Samsung has built something that is equally (if not more) striking and removed all of those gripes while fixing many of the internal hardware struggles Chromebooks have been saddled with for years. Assuming we escape a Galaxy Note 7-style battery fiasco here, I see little reason the Galaxy Chromebook won’t be the best Chromebook experience money can buy.
I know its a small thing in the larger scope of reality right now, but if you are like me, it is in those small things that I’m finding light right now. Light not only in the idea of being able to go get one of these Chromebooks in just a few days on April 6th, but light in the mere anticipation of it. I feel just a little better allowing myself to get excited by things that excited me just a few weeks ago as it helps me feel human: like the pre-pandemic world is still there under the surface. It makes me happy to remember the way things were and the way they will be again.
I know for most people now is not a good time to go buy a $999 Chromebook. I fully realize that we here at Chrome Unboxed are in a unique spot where this is a business expense and simply part of what we do, and I’m insanely grateful for that fact. Just like Apple, Samusng can release high-priced devices like this in this economy and not have to worry about selling them all right away. With Chromebooks, especially, product sales are a long game. Many of you likely aren’t considering buying one of these for a while, and that is totally fine. Assuming the interest is high, we’re going to be publishing plenty of content about it and hopefully giving you a ton of new, great stuff to read and ponder as we navigate the rest of this storm together. We’re grateful to be here with you in it.