Toshiba Chromebook 2 Review
The new Toshiba Chromebook 2 has basic specs just like all of the other Chromebooks, but it actually looks better, as it has a beautiful 1080p IPS display. Toshiba has given it a great shot with the Chromebook 2 for $329, which will be found in this review.
Hardware and specs
The CB35-B3340 model of the Chromebook 2 has an Intel N2840 processor, 4GB of RAM and a 1920×1080 display. There is also a lower-end model of this Chromebook with 2GB of RAM and a 1366×768 display. It just has too little memory for consideration and the display isn’t high quality like the one in the more expensive $329 model.
The inside of the Chromebook 2 is made of textured semi-glossy grey plastic that looks like aluminum at a glance, but in reality just feels like a bunch of cheap plastic.
The bottom and lid are a little easier to hold onto when it isn’t in a protective sleeve, and there are four rubber feet to keep it planted on the table. For branding, a small Toshiba logo is kept on the lid and under the screen, as well as a small “Skullcandy” logo under the arrow keys and more on that in the speaker section. Although it looks tight all around, it isn’t hard to flex the entire chassis with minimal pressure by hand. The Chromebook 2 comes in just under 3 pounds (2.95 pounds to be exact), which is the line of the “acceptable” weight for a portable 13-inch laptop.
The standard array of Chromebook ports are in the usual places here, with a lock slot, HDMI, USB 3.0 and headphone on one side and power, microphone, USB 2.0 and SD card slot on the other side. The bottom of the ports marks the point where the top and bottom plastics come together, which creates a little more of a lip around them than other laptops.The standard ports and internals of this Chromebook are:
• Display – 13.3-inch 1920×1080, 165 ppi, IPS.
• Processor – Intel Celeron N2840 dual-core at 2.16GHz
• Memory – 4GB DDR3 1600MHz
• Storage – 16GB internal, SD card expandable
• Connectivity – 802.11ac Wifi, Bluetooth 4.0
• Ports – 1x USB 2.0, 1x USB 3.0, HDMI, headphone/mic
• Battery – 43Wh Lithium-Polymer, 9 hours of average use
• Dimensions – 12.60 x 8.40 x 0.76 inches
• Weight – 2.95 lb
Both the external and internal attributes of the Chromebook 2 fit in line with its $329 price tag, and it’s hard to expect more particularly when taking into consideration the high component cost of putting an IPS display in a laptop of this price. Toshiba did all it could with the materials, it seems, and put the money where it matters.
Display and speakers
This is a 13.3-inch display at 1920×1080 resolution, using the dramatically superior IPS technology that’s so often seen in any mid-range and above laptop out there. The display screen is coated in plastic rather than glass, and the brightness is much higher than comparable Chromebooks, as are viewing angles and colors. The maximum angle it tilts back is perfect for the normal use of sitting at a table or desk. Toshiba has partnered with Skullcandy for speakers, and provided a little more kick to the speakers in the Chromebook 2’s stereo speakers that are inside it, through which the sound reverberates inside the laptop’s case rather than being ported out of dedicated speakers.
Chrome OS still doesn’t offer native interface scaling, so interface elements that are a little on the small sides are to be dealt, but whether or not it’s comfortable for the eyes is going to depend on the eyesight.
Keyboard and trackpad
Overall the keyboard of Chromebook 2 is serviceable having the keycaps of matte plastic as the rest of the laptop but with a bit more texture and of course a different color. The stickers for each letter and symbol on the keys can be seen easily. It has good travel distance on the keys but they lack a bit of the extra spring to really help jamming through typing. One high point of the keyboard is that the keys don’t give side-to-side like some other inexpensive Chromebooks.
The quite large trackpad underneath the keyboard has quite a bit of texture to it, making it just about as grippy as the rest of the plastic on the laptop, which just creates too much drag for quick scrolling and minuscule cursor movements. Though it’s somewhat awkwardly shaped with large rounded corners at the top and sharply rounded corners at the bottom, it’s also worthy of a “serviceable” rating. the tracking speed on the Chromebook 2 has to be turned up to combat some of the extra drag on the trackpad, which helps mitigate things.
Toshiba quotes the Chromebook 2 at nine hours of battery life for average use; the Chromebook 2 has seven hours of battery life in reality for average use, with the brightness turned up a bit. Screen brightness hit battery life pretty heavily, moving from 50 percent to 100 percent brightness could easily cut an hour off that battery life figure on its own.
Performance and real world use
With one of the latest Intel Celeron chips on board, the dual-core N2840 clocks at 2.16GHz.
The saving grace for any kind of performance on the Chromebook 2 is that it has 4GB of RAM to bail out the underpowered processor. But even with free RAM to use up, the Chromebook 2 still hangs up loading multiple pages sometimes and has jumpy scrolling on heavier pages.
Perhaps bumping up to the quad-core N2930 or N2940, with its extra cores and cache, would bridge the gap. But of course the N2840 processor has its advantages — because it doesn’t require a fan and consumes less power it improves battery life and also reduces the overall weight of the laptop.
Most people are going to be plenty happy with the performance offered by the Chromebook 2, so long as they keep the number of tabs to a reasonable level and of course purchase the higher-end model with 4GB of RAM.
The bottom line
Toshiba has made a pretty solid follow-up to its original Chromebook effort from earlier this year, adding a great 1080p display to a basic chassis and filling it out with standard — though not spectacular — internal components. The supporting parts for that great screen, including the keyboard, trackpad and speakers, are just average in the grand scheme of computers but are of a quality we’ve come to expect in Chromebooks of this price.
While the performance may come up a little short of other choices with more powerful processors, a solid battery life of at least seven hours is obtained as a positive trade-off. Not to mention that the Chromebook 2 is nicely thin and comes in under 3 pounds, with no fans needed to support the processor.
Even though it may not excel in each individual category, $329 is spent on a Toshiba Chromebook 2, one of the best Chromebooks out there today can be obtained as a complete package.
The huge bump in screen quality compared to everything else out there is enough to make it worth considering, and the fact that the rest of this laptop is solid just seals the deal, isn’t it?
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