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.
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.
NEXT: An IT Department's Dream