What’s a Chromebook device reviewer to do when they’re “on the list” for a newly available Chromebook? They either buy their own unit or they do what you do: Read the first reviews to be published. On my tight budget these days, option one isn’t really an option. So I’m going with option two, which is to read and roundup key points from a few available Samsung Galaxy Chromebook 2 reviews.
Mr. Mobile seems on the fence
My friend Michael Fisher (aka Mr. Mobile) is one of my favorite device reviewers and he only does video reviews. So I’ll drop his take here in case you haven’t seen it. And full disclosure, he and I spoke before his review was published to share thoughts.
Much of our conversation was alluded to in the video in terms of Chromebook capabilities, which I recently wrote about. And I’m still with Mr. Mobile on the thought that the 2020 Samsung Galaxy Chromebook on sale for the same $699 is the better buy. Well, if you live near an electrical outlet most of the time that is.
The Verge likes it, save for saving or moving files
There’s no video to show here, so you’ll have to read this one on your own. It went much as I’d expect with praise for the improved battery life, averaging 7:21 of continuous usage with the screen at half-brightness. The Core i3 paired with 8 GB of memory was snappy enough. However, the slower eMMC storage (a downgrade from the 2020 model) showed its weakness:
The process of getting a batch of around 100 photos from a camera into Adobe Lightroom just dragged. It took so long that, several times, I considered aborting the mission and hopping over to my MacBook. I ran AndroBench to confirm that the storage was the issue, and the results were… not great. To be clear, eMMC isn’t a huge knock against a Chromebook at this price, but it is a spec I’d stay away from if you’ll need to do anything with photos or other tasks that involve writing files to the drive.
I can’t say that I typically move that many photos from a non-connected camera personally. I tend to use cloud storage and sync solutions. But this is illustrative of any large file imports or exports so it’s worth the mention.
The Verge doesn’t feel the price is too high for the Samsung Galaxy Chromebook 2 but does recommend the $699 model for most people. You do get the better processor and a doubling up on memory and storage capacity for the extra $150.
Engadget misses the fingerprint sensor but likes the performance
Lucky you, I found another video review! Engadget has both a written and video look at the new Galaxy Chromebook, giving it an 82 out of 100 points.
Battery life was about the same as other reviewers found with “between six and seven hours” of usage. That’s better than the 5-ish hours of runtime on last year’s model but not quite stellar. On the plus side, watching non-stop videos on the superb 1080p QLED display offered over 11 hours on a charge. Again the performance of the $699 configuration was more than good enough in this particular case:
Most days I have a couple Chrome windows going with 10-15 tabs in each, plus web apps for Hangouts, Slack, Trello, Tweetdeck, Keep, and YouTube Music. I also run a handful of Android apps, including Telegram, Facebook Messenger, Spotify, and Adobe Lightroom, though most of those aren’t running at all times. The Galaxy Chromebook 2 handled all these tasks without slowing down.
Engadget did lament the removal of the fingerprint sensor. I can understand: Once you’ve used a Chromebook with one, you don’t want to go back. The lack of an included stylus wasn’t a big deal to this reviewer: You can buy a USI pen if you want to draw on your Chromebook.
There seems to be a theme here
So far, the reviews are generally in line with each other. You’re paying less for this year’s Galaxy Chromebook and most of the features you give up aren’t too important to most people.
I think that’s fair. Not everyone wants or needs a digital stylus, a fingerprint sensor (although it is handy!), a 4K display, or a secondary camera for tablet mode.
And there’s no doubt that Samsung has addressed the battery life challenges faced by the older model. Using a lower-powered processor, tweaked thermals, and including a fan goes a long way to help that. So too does dropping from a 4K to a 1080p display.
As I noted, I’m waiting on Samsung for my review unit. But I can’t help wonder what the Samsung Galaxy Chromebook 2 could have been without most of those lost bells and whistles but with the Core i5 processor and NVMe SSD storage like the original. That I would probably pay $699 for, no questions asked.