Samsung XE303 Chromebook, E5250, 2GB, 16GB, 11″, Silver first impressions

samsung chromebookMy new Samsung XE303 Chromebook, has arrived and is up and running. It’s the first time I’ve had such a slimline laptop and in my own small way am very excited. This is also my first solid state hard drive which I presume contributes towards the light weight.

First thing I did was to read the manual (RTFM) but it was hardly worth the effort. You intuitively knew what to do. In fact all I had to do was tell the machine which country I was in, which language I wanted to use, bung in my gmail credentials and hey presto, my uncle’s name is Bob1.

This is a bit of an adventure. I’ve dabbled with Windows 8 but I’ve ditched it. My office laptop is a Dell and the hard drive just crashed. The old hard drive had Windows 8. The new one is getting Windows 7 back. I never got the hang of Windows 8, couldn’t find things and screens kept disappearing because I’d accidentally drag them.

I’ve also stopped using Windows Phone 8 on the Nokia Lumia 920. The User Interface just wasn’t intuitive enough. It would take a lot longer to find things than with either iOS or Android. Google Apps is (are?) gaining real traction in businesses so I figured it was about time I gave it a go.

“Giving it a go” entails using google applications that replace the workhorse of business, Microsoft Office. Having used these tools for pretty much all my working life one gets used to certain ways of working. I’ve only dabbled with Google Docs before now and my first impressions were that it wasn’t as easy to create a doc with Google than with say Microsoft Word. However now that I am forced to live and breathe Google (I probably won’t be able to pick up my laptop again until Wednesday next week) I’m quickly getting to grips with it.

Although Google seems to do some things differently to Microsoft as I get used to Google Docs some of the differences seem obviously better. For example I’m composing this blog post in Google Docs. I was looking around for a mechanism to save the doc but I didn’t need to. Google saves it in real time. That then made me wonder how to name the doc. All you do is type over the “Untitled Document” text and you’re there.

Because I am a gmail user everything on the Chromebook is already familiar.

Back to the Chromebook itself I was struck by the clarity of the screen at startup. Might just be because it is new with no smudge marks:)  It did seem to take more than the seven seconds or so it is meant to for bootup but that could be because this was the first time.

chromebookThe touchpad is taking a bit of time to get used to but  I think that is likely to be sorted out in time – I imagine that most manufacturers will have a different feel to their touchpads.

I’m now fully up and running with the Chromebook. Claiming my free 100GB of Drive storage was very simple. I Googled it and found a link straight away. I think this online storage is pretty expensive though. 100GB is $4.99 a month. My views may change with time as I get more into the ecosystem. Maybe as our worlds edge inexorably towards the cloud we will all become conditioned to paying significant chunks of cash for online storage.

Connecting the Chromebook to my WiFi network was a piece of cake. I don’t have the version with cellular connectivity. I also got straight in to my NAS box so all the docs I have backed up from my Windows machine together with all my photos and music are easily accessible.

I’ve also noticed that having sat here for an hour or so playing with the machine it hasn’t got hot. That is good. Bodes well for battery life. Might see how long it lasts just using the battery tomorrow.

One of the things I’ve been worried about is how I’m going to do photo editing on the Chromebook. On my Microsoft laptop I use irfanview but I don’t think there is a web based version of this. I needn’t have worried. There is a brilliant free online photo editing site called pixlr.com. It’s far more functional than irfanview and extremely user friendly. Makes me wonder why I’ve never used it before!

I bought the Chromebook from Tesco. It was only £229 and there was an offer of a free Samsung Galaxy phone bundled in if we ordered by 30th September – it didn’t say which Galaxy but you can bet it isn’t an S4 🙂 When the Chromebook arrived today there was no sign of the phone and no instructions on what to do to get hold of it.

I called Tesco and when I eventually made it through to a person that person had no idea of the offer. As far as he was concerned it wasn’t a Tesco offer but a Samsung offer that I had to source directly from Samsung. Not good enough in my mind but together we managed to find a link to a Samsung web page that supposedly allowed me to register to get the phone.

The annoying thing is that Samsung won’t let you register for the phone until 14 days after you’ve bought the Chromebook. That is rubbish. I imagine it is to stop people buying the Chromebook just to get the phone and then returning the laptop and getting their money back. However it didn’t leave me with a good taste in my mouth – you just got the impression that Samsung were making it difficult for you to claim the phone so that you would give up.

That’s all I’ve got for now. I’ll provide another update when I’ve spent more time kicking tyres but so far so good.

This post was brought to you courtesy of the Chrome OS 🙂

Read other posts on Chromebook – there are loads:
Just bought an Acer Chromebook Ash – review to follow.
Samsung Chromebook crash fix and print drivers – who needs em?
Footnote to Samsung Chromebook Free Galaxy Phone offer
Samsung Chromebook offer not very customer friendly
or search chromebook for lots of useful articles

1 He isn’t really. I’ve never had an Uncle Bob. I do have an Uncle Mick though I don’t get to see him that often. Should make a bit more of an effort.

Published by Trefor Davies

Liver of life, father of four, CTO of trefor.net, writer, poet, philosopherontap.com

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  1. Trefor Davies

4 Comments

  1. Will be interesting to hear how it goes. We’re about to move to office 365 mainly as it seems that Google make more sudden unannounced changes to the way things work

  2. What I’m grappling with at the moment is how to move files around. I back stuff up to my NAS box at the end of the month, photos in particular. Photos on my SGS4 are automatically backed up to both dropbox and google+. I also want to store them locally on the NAS but a simple drag and drop doesn’t seem to work across the web interfaces. Currently downloading Sepember from dropbox onto the Chromebook. Will see how it goes. Chromebook only has 16GB storage and that won’t all be free. The files are currently zipping so I don’t know how big the folder will be when it starts downloading.

    One interesting aspect of all this is that it will be driving broadband data usage. All these multiple GigaByte xfers between what are effectively local clouds and the one “somewhere out there”.

  3. i’d be interested in your experience claiming the phone. i bought my chromebook through amazon and am pleased, but samsung keeps throwing curveballs that make it impossible to claim the phone by the deadline (a sunday deadline–is that even legal?). if not for the offer, i wouldn’t have bought the chromebook, honestly.

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