This next-generation mobile device is faster and more classroom-friendly than its predecessor.

Jun 18 2014

Review: Samsung Chromebook 2 Is Invaluable Tool for Students and Staff

This next-generation mobile device is faster and more classroom-friendly than its predecessor.

The Samsung Chromebook 2 is an excellent choice for the ­discerning school or district IT administrator, combining a brilliant high-resolution display, simple administration and a wealth of features at an inexpensive price. Whether it's for students, staff or both, the Chromebook 2 is an invaluable tool for education.

Despite being lightweight, the Chromebook 2 feels solid, thanks in part to the 8.5-inch hinge that attaches the aluminum frame to the screen. The keys are large, offering a pleasant typing experience, with a set of function keys along the top for browser, audio and brightness control. There's even a key that mimics ALT-TAB on a Windows device, showing users all currently open applications, as well as a power key, located in the upper right corner of the keyboard.

The display itself is clearer and brighter than expected, given the device's low cost. It doesn't support touch control, which would have been a nice feature, but Samsung makes up for it with the Chromebook 2's effective multigesture touchpad.

Browser windows and applications can be docked to the left and right (as in Windows 7 and above), or minimized on the Chrome OS taskbar. Users can pull up a list of applications (similar to the Microsoft Windows Start menu), either through a bottom-right icon or the well-placed Search key.

Because almost every application a user could need ­operates in a browser window and the user's data is stored in the cloud, the Chromebook 2's system performance isn't much of an issue. Nevertheless, Samsung has designed this ultraportable device with enough power (including an eight-core processor) and memory to satisfy even the fussiest users. Combined with Google's Chrome OS, boot-up times are stellar. In testing, the logon screen appeared within six seconds; just three seconds later, after credentials were entered, the Chromebook 2 was ready for action.

Samsung has satisfied the needs of most district IT departments (and their diverse user bases) with the Chromebook 2 — a tough, lightweight, high-quality, web-based device that's both easily configurable and priced ­reasonably. It's almost as if it were made just for them.

Samsung Chromebook 2 Specifications

Dimensions:11.4x8.1x0.7 inches
Weight: 2.6 pounds
Battery Life: Approximately 8 hours
Display: 11.6-inch (1366x768 HD)
Processor: Samsung Exynos 5 Octa
Ports: USB 2.0 and 3.0, HDMI, audio, microSD


Chromebook Management Made Easy

Tips for navigating Google's web-based console and printing.

Dr. Jeffrey Sheen

Even though Chromebooks are much less complex than mobile computing devices running on other operating systems, IT administrators still need to administer, track and configure a fleet of them.

Google's web-based management console allows them to set up and manage — from any location with adequate Wi-Fi — an entire fleet of Chrome devices and user accounts. (Because Chromebooks are cloud-driven, an Internet connection is required for just about every operation. Google's Wi-Fi Analyzer for Android can be used to test a location's Wi-Fi signal strength.)

From the console, IT staff can configure how devices connect using various protocols and encrypted schemes, including Wi-Fi Protected Access 2 (WPA2), Extensible Authentication Protocol–Transport Layer Security (EAP–TLS), Protected Extensible Authentication Protocol (PEAP) and Lightweight Extensible Authentication Protocol (LEAP). Devices also can be tracked by serial number to determine whether they are in use, by whom and where.

In addition to seamless automatic updates of Chrome OS and the browser itself, Google provides security features such as sandboxing, verified boot and data encryption. If the IT department wants to integrate devices with its own directory services and provide single sign-on, it will need to ensure that each user has a working Google Apps for Education account.

Local policy settings are a matter of preference. Chromebooks can be configured to require a password when woken from an idle state, for example. Administrators also can specify which Google applications and Chrome extensions are required, and which are permitted.

Google Cloud Print allows users to print from web-connected devices, including Chromebooks, smartphones and tablets. The technology works with all printers, but for the "best printing experience," Google recommends purchasing a "Cloud Ready" printer. When users wish to print, their data is routed to Google's servers to be rendered and then transmitted to their printer.

Refer to Google's instructions for fleet administration and Technical Planning Guide for more pointers.


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