Launched at CES 2017 during the Samsung press conference, the Samsung Chromebook Pro is a 12.3” thin & light laptop that introduces two “firsts” to the Chrome OS world: the ability to run Android Apps acquired via the Google Play store, and handwriting support with a digitizer. These features are powered by an Intel processor and packed into an all-metal chassis. The Samsung Chromebook Pro is the first of a new class of Chrome OS laptops. Let’s see what it can do.

Industrial design (very good)

The Samsung Chromebook Pro is a clamshell Chrome OS laptop, but you would immediately notice that it has many design elements coming from Samsung’s tablet line of products (itself inspired by phones), including the Galaxy TabPro S, which is a Windows 10 tablet.

The round edges and general thinness (display and main body) are very distinctive of the mobile heritage that Samsung likes to bring into the world of PCs. The Chromebook Pro is very agreeable to hold, as there is not a single sharp edge on the device.

At 2.38Lbs (1.08 Kg), this is a very light computer that you can carry around with ease and comfort. You back and shoulders will thank you!

Multimode Laptop

Because it swivels at a complete 360-degree, the Samsung Chromebook Pro can turn into a very nice Chrome OS tablet. The way it is designed makes it feel very natural to hold when in tablet mode. Of course, it is relatively thick when compared to native tablets, but it is thin enough not to feel a bit odd like some laptops do in that mode.

As a true Multi-Mode portable, it can also be used in Stand, Tent, Tablet and Laptop modes. In stand mode, the keyboard should be disabled to avoid accidental key-presses.

Keyboard and trackpad

There are three things that are the foundation to any PC experience: Display, Keyboard, Trackpad. These are the “do not fail” pillars.  The Chromebook Pro keyboard is a full-size one, and has the same layout as defined by Google (no CAPS key, etc…).

The travel key is more than 1mm, and it feels very standard. The keys are mostly flat, but comfortable to type on and offer a good grip.

The trackpad is about 100x55mm and is comfortable even if we’ve seen larger ones in the industry. Since Chrome OS doesn’t heavily rely on gestures, it’s not a problem at all. The trackpad seems to have a glass surface and is very nice to use. It is also very responsive.

Ports

The thing with ultra-thin design is that you need to make choices about which ports to embed. There is simply not enough height for a standard USB Type A connector. Instead, there are two USB C connectors (5 Gbps speed), one on either side. Of course, there’s a 3.5mm connector as well, along with a Volume rocker, the Power control, and the integrated stylus.

The lack of USB Type A (Standard) can be an issue if you forget your adapter and need to use a USB key, or connect to a printer for some reason. However, finding a cable is not difficult, and if you bump into this problem, it is probably worth getting a handful of cables or adapters to disseminate in your frequent locations and bags. You can get USB-C to USB-A (female) adapter from Aukey for ~$5 a piece

Invisible from the outside, this laptop has a TPM module for security, and an accelerometer + gyroscope sensor.

Stylus: a first for Chrome OS

Yes, you read that right: the Samsung Chromebook Pro has a stylus that fits into the right side of the chassis. it is well-designed and has a “clicky” back which has no real purpose, except to tell you that you have pressed it hard enough to insert/remove it, and it is also fun for those who like to click it with the thumb.

The pen’s tip has also been optimized for having a good feel. I do not use the word “natural” because it never feels like a real pen. However, it is not slippery and doesn’t feel weird. It is good enough that you will not think about how the pen feels on the surface.

The stylus is large/wide enough to write with reasonable comfort, thanks to the flat design that makes it feel as if it was a (round) pen with a large radius. I do not have any issues with taking notes or drawing schematics over multiple briefings or meetings.

Speakers (mild power)

Two speakers are located on the bottom side of the laptop. They are decent, but not all that powerful. If you watch movies in a quiet environment (home, closed office), it is perfectly fine, but at my (quiet) desk, I already have the volume set to “maximum” (it was at a maximum on Netflix too). The speaker is ~20 inches from my ears.

Filed in Cellphones >Reviews. Read more about Android, Chromebook, Google, Laptop Reviews and Samsung.

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