Samsung made one of the first Chromebooks back in 2011, and has made a few different models over the years, but the new Chromebook Pro and Plus are making a big statement about Samsung's commitment to Chrome OS. Designed in conjunction with Google, these are the first Chromebooks to truly be designed for full hardware support of Android apps on Chrome OS.
The Chromebook Pro and Plus are full 360-degree convertible Chromebook, working in both the traditional notebook form factor or flipping around to work as a touchscreen tablet. Samsung made the device rounded all around, making it comfortable to hold in every orientation.
But convertible Chromebooks aren't a new thing, so what makes these different? Samsung built in the same accelerometers and gyroscopes you'd find in a smartphone, enabling the Chromebook Pro and Plus to interact fully with motion-controlled Android apps and games in a way that's simply not been possible before now. Want to play Asphalt 8 on your Chromebook? The Samsung Chromebook Pro can do it.
As this is Samsung's first Chromebook with touch support, Samsung did exactly what you would expect: they built in stylus support. The Chromebook Pro and Plus have a small silo on the right side in which you'll find what is essentially a Samsung S Pen stylus, just like you'd find on a Galaxy Note phone. Pop out the pen and a quick actions menu pops up from the bottom menu.
The cooperation with Google extends to the pen — Google's used machine learning from a corpus of anonymized handwriting and drawing to predict where your drawn line is going to go and reduce latency. There's no personalized profile of pen use, the handwriting corpus is supposedly "good enough that we don't really need it" and Google's argued that a personalized profile could lead to overcorrection and poorer predicition. This machine learning predictive pen use is supposed to offer a dramatic reduction in latency (faster than a Microsoft Surface Pro with the excellent Surface Pen, they say), but in our time with the Chromebook Pro the lag with the pen in handwriting was almost unbearable. But at least the fidelity of the results was quite fine and accurate.
Both versions of Samsung's new Chromebook are equipped with a 12.3-inch 2400x1600 LED touch display at a comfortable-as-a-tablet 3:2 aspect ratio, 4GB of RAM, and 32GB of e.MMC SSD storage. They both are going fully all-in on USB-C, sporting a pair of the reversible USB connectors and a MicroSD card slot.
So what's different between the two? It's in the processors.
- Samsung Chromebook Plus: hexa-core OP1 ARM processor (2x Cortex-A72 cores + 4x Cortex-A53 cores)
- Samsung Chromebook Pro: dual-core 2.2GHz Intel Core M3 6Y30
The Chromebook Plus will be priced at $449 when it lands in February, while the Chromebook Pro will come later in Spring 2017 for an undisclosed but likely higher price.