- Lightweight and easy to carry
- Very affordable asking price
- Lacks a touch screen
- Low quality speakers
Performance 5/ 10
Design & Build 7/ 10
Battery Life 10 / 10
Price to Value ratio 9 / 10
Looking for an incredibly cheap introductory level machine that can handle all the basics but doesn’t waste money on extra features you probably don’t need anyway?
When your primary needs are email, web browsing, video chatting, and using a few apps, you can’t go wrong here — so long as you are aware of the hardware limitations of the Samsung Chromebook 3 before buying.
There’s no question that everyone needs a mobile device of some kind these days to stay connected to the wider world, but many of those devices come with prohibitive price tags.
Here’s where a portable option like the Samsung Chromebook 3 comes in handy. It isn’t the flashiest or most powerful machine, but it will do everything you need it to at a very reasonable price.
..convenient size and the all-day battery life laptop..
If you are considering ditching all the bloatware and constant updates of Windows 10, there are much worse options out there than the Chromebook 3.
Between the convenient size and the all-day battery life, this Samsung model is an option anyone on a budget should strongly consider.
Other Comparable Products
Focusing On What You Really Need
Let’s get this out of the way right up front — this is a no frills device meant to do one main thing, but it does that particular thing every well.
Chromebooks are becoming much more prevalent these days, and there’s a good reason for that market shift. Switching from Windows to Chrome OS isn’t a bad choice for many users out there.
…the Chromebook 3 work out better for you,
because it’s entry level price point.
Many people don’t even miss the Windows programs once they realize what they can do with Chrome OS and the Google Play store.
Frankly, if you aren’t a serious gamer or need specific hardware for business applications, there’s just no reason to drop a huge sum of money on a high end laptop.
Instead, an option like the Chromebook 3 may work out better for you, because this device is all about it’s entry level price point.
High Performance For Basic Tasks
The model we’re reviewing here is the newer $229 version with a larger 64GB of storage space. The previous version — which is often out of stock — is available for well under $200 but only has 16GB of storage capacity.
With either version you’re paying a pretty low price tag for a netbook, but you’ll get surprisingly high performance in return. 4GB of RAM and a Celeron processor is really all you need to smoothly run the stripped-down Chrome OS.
Granted, you may notice some lag if you have dozens of tabs open simultaneously. Most users can expect overall speedy performance while surfing the web, sending emails, or checking out apps.
It’s important to note the Chromebook 3 isn’t meant to be a gaming device by any stretch of the imagination. While it can smoothly run some basic Google Play apps, any sort of graphics-intensive options like MMOs, shooters, or strategy games are going to run poorly.
This particular device is more aimed at playing time wasting games like connect-3 titles, Angry Birds, or the occasional gacha creature collector or 2D RPG.
Hitting The Right Price Point
How exactly is Samsung offering a 4GB system for such a low price? There are a few major trade-offs made to be aware of, as they could make or break your buying decision.
First and most importantly — there’s no touch screen capability with the display here. For web browsing and emailing that won’t matter at all, but it does reduce the usefulness of some Android apps.
.. you’ll still get decent visuals when streaming YouTube videos or Netflix shows..
Besides the standard screen setup lacking a touch option, this model has a much, much lower resolution display than the 1920 x 1080 that is becoming more standard on laptops these days.
To be fair, at this screen size it doesn’t make much of a difference though. You don’t really need a super high resolution on an 11 inch Chromebook screen, as that would mostly just serve to make smaller text harder to read.
For a basic web browsing device, a 1366 x 768 resolution screen isn’t a deal breaker like it would be with a gaming laptop. Even at that lower resolution, you’ll still get decent visuals when streaming YouTube videos or Netflix shows on the 11 inch display.
Despite the low resolution, Samsung managed to offer a significantly brighter display here than you’ll find with many other similar priced units, and non-black colors in particular really pop.
There is one odd downside for a smaller Chromebook, however. The screen bezels are surprisingly thick for a device of this size, which further reduces an already small viewing area.
Body Style And Keyboard Design
Obviously you aren’t going to find an all-metal chassis at this price point. Instead you get the standard plastic body, but it is noticeably constructed to have a metallic look and feel.
Samsung can usually be counted on for solid build quality of their mobile devices like tablets, and the Chromebook 3 is no exception despite the low cost.
This particular model doesn’t quite hit the slim build style of the more high end ultrabooks, but it’s still less than an inch thick when closed, making it smaller than the average laptop.
That’s a huge plus for portability, but it also means you’ve got to deal with some changes to the keyboard layout. The incredibly compacted keyboard on an 11 inch machine takes some serious getting used to if you’ve been exclusively using full size laptops in the past.
Anyone can eventually overcome that hurdle just by typing up emails daily, but this model’s keyboard design has one major flaw that has become the bane of many new Chromebook users — the power button is positioned directly above the backspace key.
Why does that matter?
Just take a moment and think about how many times a day you reach your pinky over to hit backspace to delete some text on Facebook or Twitter. Now think about how many times you’ve ever overshot and hit the wrong section of the keyboard next to the backspace key.
Every time you do that, your Chromebook is going to power off.
I fully understand that concessions must be made in design to make a device this small and portable, but that’s still simply a terrible place to position the power button.
Finally, it’s a minor gripe, but there’s no indicator light on the power button, which most users will be used to seeing with a laptop.
I’m not sure if that was to save space or increase battery life, but either way it feels like there couldn’t have been that much of a difference with a small light placed inside the button.
When dealing with an ultraportable device, typically you’d expect to lose quite a few features. Obviously there’s no room for a DVD drive, but with a Chromebook you simply don’t need one anyway.
It Isn’t lacking in other connectivity options and ports however, with two USB ports, an SD card slot, an HDMI port, and an audio jack for headphones.
Speaking of headphones, you will absolutely want to invest in those, because the built-in speakers are fairly low quality. That’s another concession you just have to deal with due to the very low cost.
..incredibly impressive for a mobile device, you can run this Chromebook 3 all day long without needing to find an power outlet ..
Not only are the speakers of rather sub-par quality in general, but they also face downwards and are positioned on the bottom of the chassis. That means you’ll get muted sound whether you set the device on a table or place it on your lap.
Where the Chromebook fails on the audio side, it absolutely excels in terms of battery life, and that’s probably the single biggest draw to this budget model.
Samsung has the Chromebook 3 rated for up to 11 hours, but most users are likely to see more in the 9 to 10 range. That’s still incredibly impressive for a mobile device though, since you can run this Chromebook all day long without needing to find an power outlet.
Whether you use it at home, the office, or school, you can rely on this model to keep going no matter how long you are web browsing or using Android apps.
Of course, you also get a standard 720p webcam positioned above the screen. The cam’s quality isn’t going to win any awards, but it gets the job done if you want to Skype your friends and family on a regular basis.
The Chromebook 3 won’t do any heavy lifting with advanced 3D games or engineering software, but it isn’t intended for those kinds of applications anyway.
If you aren’t looking for a workhorse of a machine but instead just want to cover the basics like web browsing, checking the news, video chatting with family, and so on, then the Chromebook 3 will more than meet your needs.
So long as you know what you are getting into ahead of time, this is a solid choice with a great build for a low price. There are a few annoying design features, but overall Samsung managed to fit some great hardware into a tiny, portable package.
Want to take a look at what other cheap Chromebook options are out there with different options like touch screens, an included stylus, or other hardware configurations?
Take a look at our full run down of the best 8 low budget Chromebooks currently available over here.