Quick Hit: Samsung’s Chromebook an easy-to-use laptop alternative

(Courtesy Samsung)They may not even be on your radar, but Chromebooks are expected to become popular sellers as more users switch away from traditional desktop computers.

So-called because they run Google's Chrome operating system, the devices present a great and cheap alternative for folks who don't want to lay out hundreds more for a full-blown laptop.

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I had a chance to test Samsung's version and came away with a favourable impression. At about 2.4 pounds and less than an inch thick, the Chromebook is incredibly light in your lap or tucked away in your bag. The 11.6" screen also helps keep the weight down, though some users may find it a bit small for day-to-day use.

Running a Google operating system, you'll need to have (or create) a Gmail account in order to use the Chromebook. Signing in couldn't be easier and the OS will be familiar and to anyone who has used Gmail and a web browser (even if it isn't Chrome).

Boot time takes about 10 seconds and you'll soon have access to the browser-based operating system that can also run select Google apps like Angry Birds. You can of course do work, thanks to the pleasing chiclet keyboard and large touchpad. Battery life is rated at about 6.5 hours — middle ground for many larger notebooks but again, this svelte unit won't strain your muscles carrying it around.

Note that you will need a dedicated Internet connection to get the most out of the Chromebook, as it uses (and mostly stores) information in the great Google cloud.

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Verdict: Samsung's Chromebook is a great choice for buyers who don't want to spend money on a full-size laptop and don't mind being heavily integrated into Google's vast ecosystem. The suggested retail price is $270 CAD.

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