A few months ago, Google began shipping its own black label Chrome Notebooks for testing purposes. Now, the test is over and commercial versions of the Chromebook are hitting the market. First up: the Acer Chromebook and the Samsung Series 5. Both of these will be available on June 15 and both will boast the same key selling points. Namely, super-fast boot times, a cloud-centric operating system (called Chrome OS), super long battery life and ultraportability.
No matter which Chromebook you buy, you’ll have a similar experience, software-wise. But there will be some subtle differences in the hardware which you can predict from the tech specs.
Price - Winner: Acer Chromebook
Both computers come with a WiFi and/or 3G option. The 3G option for the Samsung Series 5 is a completely separate model. The Samsung Series 5 WiFi only version is $429 and the 3G version is $499. That’s expensive in the netbook world. The Acer Chromebook is more down to earth with its $349 pricetag. The 3G Acer Chromebook is about $419.
The Samsung Series 5 does have an ace up its sleeve, however: 100 MB of 3G data free via Verizon Wireless for 2 years. That’s certainly nothing to sneeze at, but neither is $150 extra dollars up front. The Acer Chromebook may still be a better deal--especially when you consider that you’ll be using much more data than the free allotment from VZW.
RAM and Processor - Winner: Tie
No contest here--both Chrome notebooks have an Intel Atom dual-core processor and 2 GB of RAM. That’s more than enough oomph for the web-centric Chrome OS.
Display - Winner: Samsung Series 5
The Samsung Series 5 has a 12.1 inch 300 nit LED WXGA display with a resolution of 1280x800 pixels. That’s wider and allegedly more brilliant than the Acer Chromebook’s 11.6-inch CineCrystal LED-Backlit LCD with a 1366x768 pixel native resolution.
Come to think of it, though, these are dang good tech specs for a netbook--at least as far as monitors go. You should note that the Acer Chromebook has an HDMI port while the Samsung Series 5 has a VGA port (via a dongle adapter).
Battery Life - Winner: Samsung Series 5
This one isn’t quite verifiable yet, since battery life is the “big fish story” of the electronics world. Samsung claims it gets 8.5 hours of normal use or 5 hours of constant video playback. If true, that trumps the Acer Chromebook’s 6 hours of battery life. Neither has a removable battery.
Hard Drive - Winner: Tie
Both netbooks have a 16 GB solid state drive in lieu of a hard disk drive. That seems slight, but remember: your data will mostly be in the cloud. Both netbooks also have 4-in-1 card readers and USB ports, too.
Weight and Form Factor - Winner: Acer Chromebook
The Acer Chromebook is similar to the Google CR-48. It’s not as sexy as the Samsung Series 5, but it’s lighter at 2.95 pounds compared to the Samsung’s 3.3 pounds. Is that enough added heft to notice? Probably not.
Which would I buy? The Acer Chromebook. ASUS and Acer are the leaders in netbooks and I turst their brand name implicitly. Plus, its cheaper. That may not sway you, if you’re brand loyal to Samsung or if you want the added battery life and allegedly brighter display. But at any rate, I’d feel comfortable buying either one if price was no object.