They have good performance with a low price and an operating system built around the app we all use the most: the web browser. Thanks to the great number of Chrome extensions and excellent performance of the browser and ChromeOS, the Google laptops are a joy to use even if they dont run everything, but they’re often slower than competing full-fledged laptops. That’s a worthy trade-off because nothing can touch a Chromebook on price, performance and battery life.
The Toshiba Chromebook 2 is the first ChromeOS laptop with a gorgeous 1080p IPS display that’s good enough to watch your favorite movies on. It’s really well built and cheap enough to buy one for the whole family.
The keyboard on the Chromebook 2 is low-profile and provides an excellent typing experience. The huge trackpad feels just like using a much more expensive MacBook Air.
Toshiba’s previous Chromebook came out at the end of last year, so instead of competing with other models on performance or battery life, the company focused on the one thing we look at the most: the screen. Toshiba’s Chromebook 2 (not to be confused with Samsung’s Chromebook 2) comes packed with a high-quality 13-inch IPS panel, the same type that Apple is famous for using in all of its MacBooks.
The display of this model is on par with computers nearly double or triple the $330 price, which is far cheaper than any of the recent models we’ve tested. There’s a $250 model, but that one has the lower-res 1,366 x 768 resolution display. The full HD 1080p screen is blindingly bright, more than bright enough to use outdoors with full glare, even with the highly reflective glossy finish.
That’s not just because of its bigger screen. The overall picture quality, like the vibrant colors and high color and light contrast, just make the entire viewing experience better than most standalone monitors, including those that cost more than the Chromebook.
Just like its predecessor, the Chromebook 2 is a good-looking 13-inch laptop with an easy-to-grip dimpled silver frame. It’s not quite the standout stunner as the Acer Chromebook 13 is, though it is somewhat flashy in a world of muted laptops. The clamshell design is flat and light; the tested unit that Toshiba provided has a clean finish and is so uniform that it’s easy to mistake the front for the back.
The keyboard has been improved enough to make the typing experience on par with today’s best Chromebooks and laptops, and the trackpad is infinitely better than the last-generation model. It’s smooth (not textured) and comfortable to use.
Toshiba also paired up with SkullCandy to improve the speaker quality, and while they do produce clearer sound than before, the audio improvement is minimal. The Chromebook 2 has muted bass and mediocre highs, though overall sound quality is better than the typical Chromebook. For watching a movie I’d still recommend using a good pair of headphones, but if you’ve got a choice between watching a movie on your phone/tablet or the Chromebook 2, the laptop will be a better experience thanks to the improved stereo sound.
Even with all of these great parts and features, the one thing that’s still the same is the performance. Toshiba chose not to up the ante for its processor and continues to use the industry-standard Celeron N2840, a dual-core 2.16GHz processor that has a decent clock speed but is actually slower than competing machines like the Acer Chromebook C720. The Chromebook 2 hangs every once in a while, like when you’re loading up a heavy web page or running web apps like Jira and Google Drive.
Before the Chromebook 2, laptops running Google’s OS were great productivity devices, great for web browsing, great for their price, size, and portability…but the quality wasn’t good enough for media use. The screens are almost always barely good enough to use for typing; they’re terrible for photo editing, watching videos, or really anything visual.
The Chromebook 2 would be the ultimate Chromebook if it included an Intel Core i3 processor like the Acer C720, even if battery life dropped because of the upgrade. Even without the better chip, though, the 1080p Chromebook 2 has a drop-dead gorgeous display that you’ll want to watch movies on. Now if Adobe would just hurry up with that Photoshop streaming from the cloud, we could really make this beautiful screen sing. Read more…