Samsung’s Chromebook 4 and Chromebook 4+, both announced Monday, represent one big upgrade and a bunch of little ones to the company’s popular line of entry-level Google machines. The laptops start shipping Monday as well, with starting prices of $230 and $300, respectively.
The big upgrade is the Chromebook 4+ itself (pictured at top), which has a roomy 15.6-inch display with a nice Full HD resolution (1920×1080). While the most common Chromebook display size continues to be 11.6 inches (that would include the Chromebook 4), a larger display size offers greater productivity, as well as a better visual experience for videos and games. The Chromebook 4+ also appears to have fairly slim bezels, while the Chromebook 4’s bezels are pretty chunky (see below).
The little upgrades are common to both laptops, which are identically configured save for their display, weight, overall dimensions. and number of USB-C ports. We’ll run through the specs first, then talk over a few key details.
Samsung Chromebook 4 and Chromebook 4+ features
CPU: Intel Celeron N4000
RAM: 4GB or 6GB LPDDR4
Storage: 32GB or 64GB eMMC
Display: Anti-Reflective LED, 11.6-inch (1366×768) or 15.6-inch (1920×1080)
Ports: MicroSD card reader, headphone/microphone jack, USB 3.0 Type-A, USB 3.1 Type-C (5Gbps) (one on the Chromebook 4, two on the Chromebook 4+)
Connectivity: Wi-Fi5 (2×2), Bluetooth
Audio: Stereo speakers
Battery: 30Wh with 30W USB-C adapter
Dimensions (inches): 11.33 x 7.96 x 0.66 (Chromebook 4) and 14.16 x 9.64 x 0.65 (Chromebook 4+)
Weight: 2.6 pounds (Chromebook 4) and 3.7 pounds (Chromebook 4+)
While overall the configurations remain modest, it’s nice to see Intel processors in Chromebooks, even if the Celerons are almost as low-end as one can get. We’ve used other Chromebooks with this CPU, and they work fine for everyday browsing tasks.
Both Chromebooks offer USB-C: The Chromebook 4 has one port, while the Chromebook 4+ has two. The AC adapters run off the USB-C port, which means you may need to juggle a bit on on the Chromebook 4 if you want to, say, run a 4K display (which both can do) and power the laptop.
While you won’t find machined aluminum or other fancy materials on these affordable laptops, the matte-silvery (“Platinum Titan”) plastic chassis is attractive. Samsung hid all the screws for a sleeker look. The company also says the shells have met eight “military-grade standards” for durability (though no actual spec designations were noted).
Samsung was a Chromebook pioneer, and its Google products continue to be popular sellers. But even as some Chromebooks come out with nicer features (and higher prices), the bestsellers continue to be models around $250 or less—and some of those are rock-bottom basic. The Chromebook 4 and Chromebook 4+ seem to be part of the trend toward better-built and better-equipped Chromebooks at the low end, and that’s a good thing.
Melissa Riofrio spent her formative journalistic years reviewing some of the biggest iron at PCWorld--desktops, laptops, storage, printers--and she continued to focus on hardware testing during stints at Computer Currents and CNET. Currently, in addition to leading PCWorld’s content direction, she covers productivity laptops and Chromebooks.