Confirmed: The Mid-Range Chromebook Is a Goner

On Tuesday, I wondered what happened to Samsung's Series 5 550 Chromebook, a surprisingly good $450 laptop that launched roughly one year ago. Now, I have an answer from Samsung PR.

  • Share
  • Read Later
Jared Newman / TIME.com

On Tuesday, I wondered what happened to Samsung’s Series 5 550 Chromebook, a surprisingly good $450 laptop that launched roughly one year ago.

Now, I have an answer from Samsung PR: As I suspected, it’s been discontinued. You can still find it on Amazon, but at marked-up prices. Staples is selling the $550 3G version only.

But the really bad news is that there won’t be a proper successor anytime soon, if ever. In an e-mail, a Samsung spokeswoman told me that the Series 3 is considered to be the replacement for the Series 5 550, and there won’t be a new version of the Series 3 until 2014.

As someone who’s used both laptops, I can say that the Series 3 is no replacement for the Series 5 550. It has half the RAM (2 GB instead of 4 GB), its screen washes out much more easily, its plastic chassis feels flimsier, the trackpad is smaller, and the speakers aren’t as loud or clear.

Compared to the Series 5 550, the Series 3 feels cheap, which makes sense because at $250, it’s $200 less expensive. That probably makes it an easier sell, especially if you’re taking the plunge on a Chromebook for the first time. (Unlike Windows PCs or Macs, Chromebooks are designed only to run Google’s Chrome browser. They emphasize fast and secure web browsing, but are unable to install any other software.)

I’m still hoping Samsung–or someone–releases a nicer Chromebook than the sub-$350 fare from HP, Samsung and Acer. There should be a mid-range Chromebook for those of us who are fully on board with concept, but don’t want something as cheaply-built as the Series 5 or as ultra-premium as the $1,300 Chromebook Pixel.

In the meantime, you can pay a premium for the Series 5 550, or get a used or refurbished model before they’re gone forever.

16 comments
Carney3
Carney3

As of July 12, it's still being sold by the Staples website for $70 off.  No, i don't work for them...

trailblazerz11
trailblazerz11

Been wanting Chromebook as a secondary mobile device for awhile, Looking at a Series 3 now but hesitant since there were rumors of a new Series 3 refresh with Exynos Octa or a Tegra 4 chromebook. (Yes, I would really like to try an ARM-powered laptop).  

You mentioned no Series 3 until 2014 so not sure if I should keep waiting or just grab a Series 3 now

andmalc
andmalc

On the other hand, the Series 3 is lighter (1.1kg vs 15.kg).  

I love mine, but with over 10-15 tabs open it starts to blog down or show blank tabs.  Other than that, I'm happy I upgraded from my original almost 2 year old Acer AC700 Chromebook.

Carney3
Carney3

Wow, I just had mine delivered (from Staples) yesterday.  Good thing I finally got off the fence and decided to buy it!

purebeing
purebeing

I loved the 550, it was my main machine for a year. And I agree with you that there should be a middle option available. I'm lucky enough to have a pixel... but yeah, I wish I could recommend another chromebook to my friends/family without asking them to shell out 1300-$1450. 

j_flatter
j_flatter

You implicitly classify webapps as "not software".  There are many engineers and entrepreneurs who probably have different thoughts on this.  I would suggest checking out Chrome Packaged Apps, Native Client (which explicitly IS software) and Offline Functionality.  

These definitions of software as "programs that run on a traditional OS" are not necessarily accurate.

tonycl
tonycl

It always surprises me that people classify a utilitarian object like a laptop as 'looking cheap'. It either does the job it's intended for or it doesn't. I bought a series 5 Chromebook ( the one with the old Intel Atom processor) last year in the UK for a knockdown nett price of £140. It is everything you would categorise as cheap. Its case is plastic (ie doesn't deform or break when dropped). It has poor speakers ( as a mobile device though these are irrelevant - I always use superb audio quality headphones/microphone ). Its screen, keyboard and mousepad are just excellent though -and its speed at switch-on and webbrowsing is just incredible. It also has very low heat output and 8 hours battery life.Over the year the ChromeOS has improved by leaps and bounds and it is just a joy to use. All I need i can find and use either as Google apps or elsewhere on the web. It even has an excellent wifi phone in gmail (now that really is cheap - cheap to use!). Why people don't just replace their laptop, ipad and smartphone for one of these (or the series 3 - which is literally even cooler) I don't know. You'd save thousands of dollars and have all the facilities together with a far less cluttered lifestyle. What's not to like?

Albucian
Albucian

Samsung discontinuing the 550 does not mean that Google will not introduce a new mid-range model soon. One with a Haswell processor for example...

Anon320110123444
Anon320110123444

Thanks for reporting on this— I'd wondered about the status of the 550 myself at several points, having come to the same conclusion that the Series 3 wouldn't be a suitable replacement. It's certainly disappointing to learn that my much anticipated alternative to an unnecessarily bothersome Windows laptop or unnecessarily expensive Macbook Air is gone before it even came to be.

Mike Jett
Mike Jett

no make chrome hd and is crhome spec ops the same game or a 2nd chrome

Carney3
Carney3

I got the 3G version.  Was the Wifi only version ever $450?  I thought it was $499.

Carney3
Carney3

@tonyclough90  I just bought one.  My iPhone 4 was dying and I noticed that for the same up-front price as an iPhone 5 I could get a Nexus 4 and a ChromeBook 550.

newmanjb
newmanjb moderator

@tonyclough90 What I actually said was that the Series 3 feels cheap, not that it looks cheap. I will give you an example: If you pick up the Series 3 by the front-middle section of the base, the plastic is so flimsy that it actually flexes upward and causes the trackpad to click. Plastic itself isn't bad, but when it's this flimsy I definitely worry about deformities or other issues that might come up. No such problems with the Series 5 550.

Carney3
Carney3

@Anon320110123444 The Staples website is still selling it, for $70 off.  Guess I should have waited!  At least I got free shipping (which you can get too).  Make sure to check for item #953743 .   



tonycl
tonycl

@newmanjb @tonyclough90Yes, so you did. I apologise for that. I guess in trying to improve further its portability and cutting weight from 1.5 kg to 1.1 kg the plastic thickness has been reduced. Reading users' reviews elsewhere though,many seem quite impressed with the series 3 build quality - I must confess though I've been so happy with my series 5 model I've never looked at the series 3. Overall I'm just a big fan of Chromebooks. Given the availability of secure cloud  data storage,widely available home wifi and free public wifi, the www with a growing amount of software that can be run online without downloading,  what sort of device would you want to access it all and use it securely?

Would it be be:
a device that has a huge amount of local storage under continual  danger of corruption,a huge and ponderous Windows system with a continuing and expensive need to update,an expensive local  security system again in need of time-consuming updates,very limited battery life (because of the above) leading to poor portability,great susceptibility to attack when using public wifi

or would it be a Chromebook?