Samsung Chromebook Series 5
Manufactured by Samsung
Operating System by Google
While you’re reading this, you are probably sitting at your computer desk, a half-finished drink at your side. Or maybe you’re in a car or on a bus or another wheeled vehicle, your smartphone or your tablet in one hand. And you’d think that was pretty amazing, right? Imagine how I feel as I type this, approximately 37,000 feet in the air somewhere over Wayne, South Dakota.
I’m able to perform what Stephen King called one of the best magic tricks in the world thanks to Virgin America and their partnership with Google and Gogo, wherein if you check out a Chromebook at a select airport and are going to another participating airport, you can use their in-flight wireless Internet for free while you test-drive their product. It’s an ingenious bit of marketing, mostly because everyone likes free Internet, right?
Hit the website above to look at the technical specs or even this Engadget review if you want to get down to the nitty gritty. What I’d like to talk about is how this mini-laptop or maxi-netbook feels to use on a plane and whether or not it’s worth it.
First off, I’m lucky to be sitting near the window with someone I know next to me because the only way I’m able to type as fast as I normally do without jamming my seatmate in the elbow is by putting the ‘book on one side of the fold-down tray. However this did also mean that my seatmate had to type on his full-sized laptop with his elbow in the air. I’m also having a problem with the size of the text on the screen in the Chrome browser. Even after I just changed the settings, only one of the tabs I had open had the font at a readable size; the rest were at their default. Changing the Search button into a Capslock button takes some fooling around with the settings, but its doable; meanwhile, there is no Delete or Home key.
We were asked not to look at streaming video on the flight, so I didn’t get a chance to test out how it felt watching a movie or some YouTube clips. However, I’m pleased to note that even with some pausing to eat a bit, I still have about 71% of a battery left and there’s perhaps an hour or two left in my flight to New York City.
The Bottom Line: If I had $500 to spend and I wanted something that was easy to carry around for casual browsing and long plane trips or subway trips, would I get a Chromebook? Probably not; having also played with a first-generation iPad while waiting for this very flight, I think I liked how easy it was to use and change its readability settings than this ‘book. But I’m sure that there’s someone else out there who’ll appreciate this machine.