Samsung Series 5 Chromebook hits the UK tomorrow

The Samsung Series 5 - the first official Chromebook - has been launched in the UK, offering buyers the chance to try out a commercially-supported not-quite-a-netbook with Google's Chrome OS platform pre-installed.

Featuring a dual-core 1.66GHz Intel Atom N570 - rather than the ARM-based chips usually found in Google-based devices - the 12.1-inch screen boasts a relatively impressive resolution of 1280x800. 2GB of RAM should prove plenty for the cut-down cloud-based operating system, while 16GB of solid-state storage is provided for local caching of content.

The main selling point of the Chromebooks is, of course, their connectivity and ability to link in to Google's multifarious online services such as the web-based office suite Google Docs. Accordingly, Samsung is launching two SKUs: a Wi-Fi only model priced at £349, and a Wi-Fi and 3G model costing £399.

It's the same approach adopted by Amazon with its Kindle range of Internet-enabled eReaders. It's not clear from Samsung's press release whether a contract-free data SIM will be included with the 3G model - as Amazon does with its Kindle - or if buyers will be expected to provide their own.

The remainder of the specifications are pretty good: the super-bright 300nit display features an anti-glare coating to ensure it can be used in relatively bright sunshine, while the 61Wh lithium-polymer battery claims an 8.5 hour run time. While this figure drops to five hours if you try to do anything demanding with the device - such as play video - it's still impressive for the price.

The layout of the keyboard appears almost identical to that used in the Cr-48, Google's own reference design used as a development testbed prior to the Chromebook launch. Particularly interesting is the lack of a caps lock key: instead, users get a dedicated button to launch a Google search.

The Samsung Series 5 Chromebook is due to go on sale on Friday, and will be the first UK release for an official Chromebook. While Acer is also part of Google's Chromebook launch, the company has yet to announce UK release dates for its equivalent product.