Review: Samsung Chromebox
Moan, moan, moan: that’s how I suspected this review would come across as I pondered on my initial impressions of Samsung’s Chromebox – its Mac Mini-styled desktop computer that runs Google’s Chrome OS. You know, the online operating system that turns your computer into paperweight when there’s no internet connection. And then I paused for a moment – this is a Samsung product, but my heavy sighs and mutterings have little to do with the hardware.
Samsung's Chromebox Series 3 XE300M22 Chrome OS cloud computer
So is this review going to be another kicking of Google’s Chrome OS? As if you hadn’t read enough of those grumbles or even seen it coming. Few products are perfect, and some are unique. And there are numerous variations in between but to stick with conventional personal computing models for the moment, the Samsung Chromebox is just like any other PC – sort of.
After all, the hardware that Samsung offers isn’t exactly game changing. There are six USB 2.0 ports, a couple of full-size DisplayPort connectors and a DVI output. Alas, no HDMI, but you get Gigabit Ethernet, dual-band 802.11n Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 3.0 plus a mic/headphone combo socket at the front.
Full size DisplayPort connections and DVI, but no HDMI
Inside is a 1.9GHz Intel Celeron B840 CPU, which, while not likely to win any prizes at sports days, is a step up from previous versions of this chip family and performs more akin to an old Core 2 Duo. You get 4GB of DDR 3 Ram clocked at 1333MHz, but a mere 16GB SSD. Unsurprisingly, the Samsung Chromebox utilises Intel’s integrated HD Graphics core. The unit itself, featuring a plastic top and bottom with metal sides, is a fairly lightweight 800g. Like the Mac Mini, it has vents in the base and gets warm rather than hot.
Currently PC World is selling the Samsung Chromebox for £280, so given those internals and the fact that there’s no optical drive, screen or any other peripherals and this particular reseller will flog you a 2.4GHz Celeron-powered Asus for the same price, might give one pause for thought.
And there you have it, Samsung’s Chromebox is just a typical desktop PC – sort of.
Underside vents look not too unlike the Mac mini
I say typical, because what is PC hardware other than a showcase for a software platform? Buy a Mac and you need to learn its quirks and dabble with the iLife media applications along with iCloud services, if you’re that way inclined. Likewise, a Windows PC will endeavour to tempt you to experiment with OEM bundled basics. A simple sign-up will get you Microsoft’s SkyDrive suite of apps and storage – the silver lining to its cloud services. However, these operating systems have been around a while and are very familiar on many levels.
Next page: Make a grab for it
Was Chrome, as an OS still born?
I'm increasingly not seeing the point Chrome when I can buy a Windows device that does more the money. OTOH, as a desktop/Netbook play, I could see Android (with full Chrome browser experience) succeeding where Chrome is clearly failing.
Good review BTW; it's about time a reviewer took Chrome by the balls.
I am a bit surprised that Pi can't do an IDE. It may be far below modern standards (I assumed it would be on par with a PIII 700 rather than a PII 300 but either way), but it was not so very long ago we were using 300MHz PII with 256Mb RAM as desktop PCs - I worked with Visual C++ 6, Borland JBuilder and MS Office on such PCs as did everyone else, probably only a decade ago. And those PCs had nothing in the way of GPU acceleration at all.
And with Linux being so much faster than Windows (semi serious Linux barb) that should make it usable as a low-power PC. If not why not?
No device that needs 100% Internet, 100% of the time is ever going to work unless you have pre-loaded front end apps that can support Internet outages in the short term.
As a writer I use Google Docs to do a lot of work on the road. When Google is not available all I have on my PC is a 1K shortcut to my doc which does nothing for me.
Put it on the cloud, that is fine, but give me a copy to play with.
Re: I already have a virus-free up-to-date OS
I like Windows 7 as much as the next man but calling it virus free is worse than a Mac fanboi saying his platform is virus free.
Chrome OS has Linux at its core, and I believe the apps run in sandboxed web browser processes. You really shouldn't bother with computers if you think that's the same level of security as Windows 95.
@ Charles Calthorp - Re: when my raspberry pi comes
That Pi fits into that tin as much as this girl fits into these shorts: http://momgrind.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/06/muffintop.JPG