Two years ago, Samsung made the first great Chromebook. It was thin, and light, and had good battery life, but most of all it was a different kind of computer. Chrome OS wasn’t like Windows, which can do absolutely everything on earth including a laundry list of things that only confuse and overwhelm most users. It was designed to be simple, functional, and focused. “It’s just a web browser” wasn’t a problem, it was progress.

As Samsung releases its successor, the Chromebook 2, things have changed. Cheap laptops can be even thinner, even faster, even more powerful, even longer-lasting; the Chromebook 2 is all four. The opportunity has grown, too: these 11.6-inch and 13.3-inch laptops enter a market in which most of what most people do all day lives inside a web browser anyway. We can do basic word processing and number-crunching with Google Docs or Office Online; we store all our files in Dropbox or OneDrive. Chrome OS feels more native than ever, but in a very real way we’ve caught up to Google’s vision more than it’s caught up to us.

Starting at $319, the Chromebook 2 is Samsung’s second try at showing us the potential of our web browsers. But that vision is bigger, more ambitious now — Samsung has some catching up to do.

I learned two things from the Samsung Chromebook 2. One is that it’s clearly possible to build a decent-looking, user-friendly laptop and not charge a fortune for it. This device is an achievement, a baseline of design and portability that other manufacturers ought to take note of. If this can be done for $319 and $399, there’s no excuse for charging more for less.

The other thing I learned is that I can’t imagine ever recommending a Chromebook without an Intel processor. I believe, more fervently than ever, that Chromebooks are going to take a huge bite out of the PC market. The best models are every bit as powerful as they need to be, and offer simplicity and portability that’s still impossible for a Windows PC to achieve. But it’s a balancing act: too much power and these devices become too expensive, too little and they become unproductive. I wound up using the Chromebook 2 like a tablet — light-touch browsing, skimming my email, occasionally jotting down notes. And that ignores the true promise of Chrome OS.
The Verge has the entire review...