We reviewed Samsung's latest Chromebook about a month ago. It's an interesting machine for sure, and at $249 for the Wi-Fi-only model, it's undoubtedly affordable. However, Chrome OS restricts users to web-based activities—even local file management is hopelessly limited—and the ARM processor rules out a quick side-grade to Windows.
That's why I was surprised to see the Samsung Chromebook at the top of Amazon's best-sellers list for laptop computers. The folks at Slashdot made the discovery yesterday evening, and sure enough, it checks out. The listed price is $325, not $249, because believe it or not, only a handful of the machines remain in stock through the Amazon Marketplace. If that's not a sign of popularity, I don't know what is.
Does this mean Amazon shoppers are cheapskates going for the most affordable solution? Evidently not, because the number-two best-seller in the category is Apple's 13-inch MacBook Pro. Asking price: $1,115.59. In fourth place is the 13" MacBook Air at $1,124.99. That leaves only two spots in the top five for cheap Windows notebooks.
A look at the Samsung Chromebook's user reviews (and 4.2-star average rating) suggests users are overwhelmingly pleased with the system, despite its limitations. Even those decrying the lack of Netflix support are surprisingly forgiving of the machine's flaws overall. Google clearly has something there. With just a little more polish, Chrome OS could have a bright future ahead of it.