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Connectivity and expansion

This, right here, is my only gripe with the Samsung Chromebook's physical design. The headphone jack and SD card reader are on the side—as they should be—but the USB, HDMI, and AC ports all sit at the back.

This arrangement means that plugging in a thumb drive, or even just hooking up the power adapter, involves annoying contortions. You're pretty much forced to fold the display forward and lean over the machine. Even then, you can't actually see the ports themselves—just their microscopic labels, which are etched in dark grey on slightly lighter gray.

Not that the Samsung Chromebook has much connectivity to begin with. In addition to the card reader, audio jack, USB and HDMI outputs, and AC connector, the machine features an unlabeled slot that I presume is intended for SIM cards. (A 3G version of the laptop is available; it'll set you back an extra 80 bucks over the regular model on Amazon.) Add the built-in Bluetooth 3.0 and 802.11n Wi-Fi, and that's about it.

In its dearth of physical connectors, the Chromebook resembles current ultrabooks—and Apple's MacBook Air laptops. The 11.6" MacBook Air, for example, only has two USB 3.0 ports, a Thunderbolt port, and a headphone jack. It doesn't even feature a card reader.

Samsung didn't get fancy with the power adapter. We've seen some vendors strive for a little originality there. Some others, like Asus, have attempted to copy Apple's power brick design. This Chromebook just has a plain-looking 40W adapter that weighs in at about nine ounces (256 g). Moving along...