Stylus-toting model made for Android apps

A stylus menu pops up when you eject the stylus from the side of the Samsung Chromebook Plus.
A stylus menu pops up when you eject the stylus from the side of the Samsung Chromebook Plus.PHOTO: SAMSUNG

The Samsung Chromebook Plus is one of the first Chromebooks designed from the ground up to support Android apps with the Google Play Store preloaded.

It blurs the line between Google's desktop and mobile operating systems, especially as this convertible switches easily between tablet and laptop modes.

Its slim aluminium chassis, which weighs around 1.1kg, looks attractive, with rounded edges that do not cut into your palms when holding it. It also comes with a stylus that slots into the side.

Eject the stylus and a window pops up with stylus functions that allow you to do things such as capturing a part of the screen or writing a note in the Google Keep app.

The Plus supports palm rejection while scribbling with the stylus. You can also exert more pressure to draw a thicker line. But having used other stylus-toting devices, I felt that there was a longer delay between my pen strokes and seeing my scrawls appear on the screen.

  • TECH SPECS

  • PRICE: US$449 (S$627)

    PROCESSOR: OP1 hexa-core ARM chip (2GHz)

    GRAPHICS: Integrated graphics

    RAM: 4GB

    SCREEN SIZE: 12.3 inches, 2,400 x 1,600 pixels

    CONNECTIVITY: 2 x USB Type-C, microSD card, audio jack

    BATTERY: 39 watt-hour


    RATINGS

    FEATURES: 5/5

    DESIGN: 4/5

    PERFORMANCE: 3/5

    VALUE FOR MONEY: 3/5

    BATTERY LIFE: 4/5

    OVERALL: 4/5

Its 12.3-inch display has a 3:2 aspect ratio that is more squarish than the usual widescreen displays. This gives you more vertical space so you scroll less while browsing the Web. It also makes the Plus easier to hold in portrait tablet mode. The Plus has a native 2,400 x 1,600-pixel resolution that downscales to a sharp 1,200 x 900 pixels. The screen is also very bright, topping out at 400 nits.

The keyboard is not backlit and the Backspace and Tab keys could be larger.

Powering the Plus is a hexa-core ARM processor similar to those found in smartphones. This chip scores 9,470 in the Octane browser benchmark, which is slightly higher than the 8,000-odd scores from the Acer and Asus Chromebooks.

In practice, the Plus was responsive and quick until I opened one tab too many. For optimal performance, don't exceed 10 tabs. Android apps, which are still in beta testing, crash occasionally or may have screen resize issues. Certain apps, like Pokemon Go, are incompatible.

Battery life is decent enough at around 5hr 30min in our video-loop battery test.

The Chromebook Plus is not available locally, but it can be bought online from retailers such as Amazon for US$449 (S$630). For those who need more horsepower, check out the Samsung Chromebook Pro (US$549), which is expected to be launched soon in the United States. It is identical to the Plus, but with a more powerful Intel Core m3 chip.

Vincent Chang

• Verdict: With its support for Android apps, a touchscreen and a stylus, the Plus is arguably more useful than a Windows PC for some Android users.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 12, 2017, with the headline 'Stylus-toting model made for Android apps'. Print Edition | Subscribe