- Excellent display
- Well-designed keyboard
- Chassis feels hollow and slightly fragile
- Pricey compared to low-cost Windows PC
Toshiba hit a sweet spot in the laptop market with the new Chromebook 2. While we’ve criticized several budget Chromebooks for being under-powered and lacking important features, this laptop performs strongly enough that most casual users will forget they’re working with Chrome OS instead of a full-fledged Windows PC.
We reviewed the Toshiba 13.3-inch CM35-B3340 Chromebook 2 model which sports a full HD 1080p display. Listed at $329.99, the device is more than functional enough for most consumers shopping for a budget-priced laptop, and could even be sufficient for professionals who rely on Google services at work.
Build & Design
The Toshiba Chromebook 2 is an appealing 13.3-inch device, weighing in at roughly 3 pounds (2.95 lbs without the power adapter) with a well-designed silver chassis and beveled edges. The screen lid is not the commonly smooth plastic surface found on most low-priced notebooks and Chromebooks, but rather a textured grid that provides a greater grip. The only bit of color comes from the bright Chrome logo on the outside screen cover. Four rubber feet on the bottom corners prevent the Chromebook from sliding during use.
The hinge is strong and tight allowing for several viewing angles without worrying the display will shift while in use. Despite the tight hinge, the device is easy to open with one hand.
While the Chromebook 2 has an attractive design with a nice texture on the screen lid and a hinge with decent tension, the low cost of the laptop is betrayed by the “hollow” feel of the chassis when you hold it in your hands. We doubt this Toshiba Chromebook is any more fragile than other budget laptops, but the hollow construction isn’t ideal for those potential buyers who are frequent travelers.
Input & Output Ports
The Chromebook 2 comes with all of the standard ports and slots that are common for laptops in this price range. You won’t be awestruck by the port selection, but you’ll have most of the things you need for casual use in a home environment. Toshiba includes a single USB 2.0 port, a single USB 3.0 port, a full-size SD card reader, and a full-size HDMI port. You’ll also find a single headphone/microphone combo jack as well as a security cable lock slot.
Screen & Speakers
What really stands out is the Chromebook 2’s gorgeous 1080p IPS display and its full 1920 x 1080 HD resolution. The wide viewing angles are excellent for viewing movies or still images and the screen brightness is rated at up to 340 nits. This 13.3-inch FHD display is an obvious improvement over the standard displays used on most Chromebooks. That being said, we typically felt the need to run the display at its maximum brightness setting to compensate for glare on the extremely glossy screen surface. For those readers who aren’t aware, keeping your display on the maximum brightness setting has a negative impact on battery life (more on that later).
Toshiba’s partnership with Skullcandy made a difference with the speakers. The speakers weren’t as tinny as others during video playbook.
However, music presented a new set of problems. Songs often sounded thin and the audio wasn’t as clear as it could have been. Headphones improved the sound quality and are almost necessary for extended listening.
Toshiba placed a lot of thought when designing the Chromebook 2’s full-sized keyboard. There is a slight texture, preventing fingers from slipping off the individual keys. The tactile feedback didn’t lead to discomfort while typing.
The large palm rest and multi-touch control touchpad also allowed for easy navigation. It uses a hard plastic keys rather than the softer rubber mode but was fine for working all day on the device.
The touchpad was large, taking up the bottom third of the device. It sports rounded edges on top, but they didn’t interfere with cursor movement.