Review: Chromebook 2 Ready For The Enterprise


Samsung Chromebook 2

Samsung in April began shipping the Chromebook 2, a faster, more powerful, version of the original Chromebook unveiled in 2011. New features developed by Google since the CRN Test Center first looked at the browser-only laptop include tools to manage Chromebooks and make the afforable portable far more suitable for the enterprise.

Before we get to the management features, let's have a look at the 13.3-inch Chromebook 2 that Samsung sent for testing. There's also an 11.6-inch Chromebook 2 with mostly the same guts but with a few variations that we'll cover here. Both models are built around the Samsung Exynos 5 Octa 5800 8-core processor, 4 GB of RAM and 16 GB of solid state storage.

The SoC incorporates four ARM Cortex A15 cores at 2.1GHz (1.9GHz on the 11.6-inch model) and four Cortex A7 cores at 1.3GHz. For graphics, there's a Mali T628 MP6 GPU, which packs another six cores. All 12 of these cores certainly came into play when testers fired up eight media player windows at once.

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Video files alternately expand to full screen and contract using the dedicated full-screen function key. Sound from its two 2-watt down-firing speakers was surprisingly good, with ample volume and even some bass response. ChromeOS played a particularly bassey MP3 audio file at full volume without distortion. When inserting a media card, ChromeOS launches its "Files" app and displays the card's contents. Double-clicking an item opens it with the appropriate app without the need for a web connection.

Did you catch that? Chromebook 2 can play media files, and open and edit Office-type documents in Google's QuickOffice without an Internet connection. Absent this huge deficiency of prior models, Chromebook 2 is far more suitable for mobile execs, students and just about anyone seeking a laptop for general use. Its 13.3-inch LED-lit screen puts out a bright 250 nits (200 nits on the 11.6-inch model) and offers a native resolution of 1,920-x-1,080 (or 1,366-x-768 on the 11.6-inch). It can display as many as 2,160-x-1,215 pixels, but we judged the type too small at resolutions higher than 1,200-x-675. Desktop management also provides control of screen orientation, mirroring and layout of multiple monitors. Changes are instantaneous.

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