SAMSUNG Galaxy Chromebook 4 Laptop Review
The Samsung Chromebook 4 will not blow you away with its computing performance, even on fourth gear, what with the conservative specs that it parades.
There’s an Intel Celeron processor and a UHD 600 graphics card integrated into the chip, and then there’s 8GB of RAM and 32GB of eMMC flash storage when maxed out.
What you get with all of these specs is a Chromebook that can do no more than the basics, browse the web, play videos, and edit pictures and documents. Nothing out of the ordinary.
It is military-grade durable and very portable still, while the long-lasting battery only comes second to its very attractive price tag in the not-too-long list of positives.
This is a Chromebook that will strike a chord with college students and kids, and others who are not too big on budgets or high on expectations.
Design and Appearance
While the chassis is predominantly made from plastic materials, with only the lid built with aluminum, the laptop still feels like a solid product, and Samsung makes sure of that.
There are the sharp curves at the edges, the chrome logo at the top corner, and the Chrome plated Samsung logo just a few inches below, all at the lid. And when you flip the lid or apply a firm press at its edges, you get the impression that it has just the right amount of sturdy and the most passable degree of flex. It revolves around a duo of hinges and will hit the deck when it is at full stretch, dipping ever so lightly in the process.
And then it opens up to a display of matte finishing and disproportionately thick bezels, with the top bezel as the choice of site for a 720p HD webcam. The keyboard has a certain luster to its looks, and it also fares relatively well with the flex problem.
Samsung bills this laptop as MIL-STD 810G certified, this translates to a device that will come out unscathed from extreme weather conditions, drops, bumps, and other everyday usage hazards. It also tips the scales at 2.6 pounds and coupled with a profile that’s 0.7 inches at its thickest part, this is one Chromebook that can be taken for a roll or a stroll.
Ports and Connection
In keeping with the typical Chromebook fashion, the field of ports on this device is very narrow. A USB Type-C port, an audio jack, and a micro SD card to the left, and the right, a USB 3.0 port, and a security lock slot round up the port ensemble.
There’s a caveat that comes with the USB Type-C port. As it is the primary charging slot that is intended for the AC Adapter, it can not be used to output to external displays without pulling the plug on the laptop.
Internet connectivity takes a more prominent role in Chromebooks, and the Gigabit Wi-Fi delivers the goods at every time of asking. It is joined by a Bluetooth 4.1 provision.
Keyboard and Input devices
The Samsung Chromebook 4 omits some of the keys that would normally be found on the keyboard of a regular Windows laptop from its lineup. Chief among these keys are the Windows key and the Caps Lock, with the latter ditched in favor of the search/menu button, especially as the keys now sport an all lower-case font.
Other Chromebook regulars include shortcut keys for the system command and another to whip up the web browser. On the whole, the keyboard on this Chromebook is pretty normal. There’s no backlight provision, not in the least surprising, but the keys get sufficient travel and give satisfactory feedback.
The touchpad covers a sizable portion of the deck, with its footprint leaning towards a more rectangular aspect. And in the absence of physical buttons, the entirety of its smooth surface is clickable, and very firm too.
The quality of the sounds that stream out from the bottom-firing speakers is on the lower division, and it is not entirely unexpected. There is very little clearance to afford the sounds that emerge from the duo of stereo speakers. So they turn out with subdued volumes and skimpy bass, even at full blast, making for the use of headphones or external speakers to be inevitable.
It is in its display that this Chromebook mostly disappoints, with the 11.6″ screen churning out visuals that are subdued and uninspiring for the most part. For starters, the 1366 x 768-pixel resolution is not on the high side, even for a screen of this modest size.
Then there is a 135 PPI count that is way below the standard, making for images that appear to be blurry and text that is just there. And if you attempt to view the screen from an off-center perspective, the TN panel and its dearth of viewing angles will pose its challenge.
You’ll be hard done by the gradual wane of the colors as you tilt towards the outmost part of the screen. On a more positive note, the matte screen finish will give you a fighting chance against reflection-induced glare in outdoor spaces.
But the low brightness will have a hard say about that, and that is coupled with the 64% sRGB gamut that is pretty shabby.
As much as all of these statistics look daunting, the screen is still an 11.6″ offering, thankfully.
A larger screen would have been the final straw, and every flaw would be even more prominent. That is not to say that our review laptop is let off the hook, and let’s not even talk about the 720p webcam. The less said about it, the better.
Graphics and Gaming
With integrated graphics in the innards, as with this Chromebook, you almost always know what to expect. This Chromebook features the Intel UHD 600 graphics card, and it can only ever make the laptop deliver commonplace graphic performance for the bulk of its serviceable life.
The massive deficit of shading units and texture mapping units in this GPU will render it largely incapable of processing any serious graphic demanding task. You can scratch out 3D-based design, advanced photo and video editing, and high-end gaming from the checklist. But you can tick boxes that feature light photo touch-ups, basic graphic designs, and the occasional lower-tier gaming.
Gamers stand a good chance to play some Android games from the Google Play Store. The lack of a touchscreen will limit your options, but you should be able to find a number of compatible games. While titles like Fallout Shelter and Injustice 2 will mostly require a touchscreen, a few others like Asphalt 9 support both keyboard and touchscreen controls, while another, Pacman, will play out just fine with keyboard only.
Even then, you should brace yourself for those spurts of lag and screen tearing that will tend to put the squeeze on your gaming experience.
The Samsung Chromebook 4 can boast of a decent battery, even by Chromebook standard. With brightness dialed down to 150 nits and the Chromebook made to surf the web until depletion from a full charge, the lights will go out at exactly 10 hours and 35 minutes.
It is a fraction short of the 12-hour timespan that is touted by the laptop maker, but it is still an impressive showing that even beats the Chromebook standard by an hour. The USB Type-C port is the port of call for recharging this device, and it is pretty quick while at it.
Cooling and Noise Emission
This Chromebook employs a passive system of cooling as most do, meaning that there are no fans present to cool it and no fan noise to worry about by extension. The low TDP rating of the processors translates to very nominal heat production and subsequent dissipation.
That’s not to say that it is all rosy though, computing tasks like Wi-Fi-based browsing and light gaming exacts a significant heat toll on the system, resulting in a warming up of some parts. And while the keyboard deck and all its contents never get uncomfortable to use, the bottom parts may cross the comfort threshold(95 F).
At its modest price point, the Samsung Chromebook 4 was never going to be a powerful device or even a powerful Chromebook for that matter. It is only well primed to deliver on the regular computing front, what with the low-end Intel Celeron N4000 processor pulling the strings in the insides.
With two each for computing cores and threads to call on, alongside a base speed of 1.7 GHz, this Chromebook is not exactly big on raw material. RAM options go from 4GB to 8GB, and storage from 16 to 32, and 64GB. Our review unit runs on the latter, along with 4GB of RAM, just about enough for a regular day in the office or at school.
It is at routine computing activities like web browsing, video playback, and word processing that this laptop is at home. You can even do all the aforementioned things in one breath, and the Chromebook will almost always remain on an even keel.
Switch between a dozen Chrome tabs, a few of which could Include a YouTube video stream or a picture editing session on Pixlr, all while writing a piece on Google Docs, and the laptop will not waver, at least in the beginning.
It is when you continue in this trajectory for an extended period that the Chromebook starts ringing the alarm bells, with fits of lag at best, or a downright blackout at worse.
The Samsung Chromebook 4 sits snugly in the bargain basement of Chromebooks, so it can almost be excused for its shortcomings, and there are quite a few of them.
It’s hard to look beyond the 11.6 inches TN display or to hear of the dual stereo speakers. And as for its computing performance, run-of-the-mill is as far as you can get.
The biggest bummer might yet be the lack of a touchscreen, and it could deprive many a user of the chance to enjoy the Android app and game experience.
There are some positive takeaways in the mix, none so much as a portable profile and an enduring battery that makes it very well suited for usage on the go.
Its modest price is a shoe size that will fit into all shoestring budgets, while it’s even more modest performance will fit into the demands of non-power users, students, and kids most especially.
1366 x 768 Pixels
Intel Celeron N4000
4 GB LPDDR4
32 GB SSD
Intel UHD 6000
11.33 x 7.96 x 0.66 inches