Toshiba Chromebook 2 evaluation: nice display, however the battery life takes successful
Competitors is a lovely factor. When Samsung first got here out with its thirteen-inch Chromebook 2 earlier this yr, it shortly turned certainly one of our favourite price range laptops, principally as a result of it was the one Chrome OS gadget with a pointy, full HD display. Even so, it was hardly good: Its efficiency might have been quicker; it was lacking a full-measurement SD slot; and, at $four hundred, it was kinda expensive too. This is the place that competitors factor is available in. First Acer launched one thing comparable at a lower cost, and now Toshiba is promoting a full HD Chromebook of its personal, additionally referred to as the Chromebook 2. Whereas it matches Samsung pixel for pixel, the worth can also be an excellent deal decrease: simply $330 for the highest-of-the-line mannequin. However let’s not decide a machine purely by its spec sheet, we could? How does the brand new Chromebook 2 truly carry out? There was solely solution to discover out: Use it as my main laptop computer for every week.
- Shiny, sharp show
- Surprisingly good audio
- Thinner and lighter than the primary version
- Quick 802.11ac WiFi
- Construct high quality is a bit chintzy
- Brief battery life in comparison with different 1080p Chromebooks
- Keyboard is on the shallow aspect
Toshiba’s Chromebook 2 is among the higher Chrome OS units you should purchase, because of its vibrant 1080p display, robust audio high quality and affordable worth. We hesitate to name it the most effective, although, provided that there are equally priced machines with equally sharp shows that additionally ship longer battery life and, in lots of instances, comfier keyboards.
The Chromebook 2 could be Toshiba’s greatest Chromebook but, however it truly seems suspiciously like final yr’s mannequin. As earlier than, it is common out of grey, textured plastic, with a bumpy dot sample that does a great job masking scratches and fingerprints, even when it is a bit low cost-wanting. As soon as once more, too, the display measures thirteen inches, so the general footprint hasn’t actually modified both. Even the port choice is identical: two USB connections (one three.zero, one 2.zero), a full-sized HDMI socket, a twin mic/headphone jack and, sure, the all-necessary SD card slot. Whereas the 2 fashions look comparable, although, this one is a bit thinner and lighter, coming in at 2.ninety five kilos and zero.seventy six inch thick (down barely from three.three kilos/zero.eight inch on the unique). That is about the identical weight as Samsung’s Chromebook 2, although the Acer Chromebook thirteen is available in at three.31 kilos, which suggests you might undoubtedly do worse so far as heaviness goes.
The keyboard additionally stays unchanged; it is spacious, however the flat buttons do not all the time register your keystrokes. Particularly, I typically needed to sort my 12-digit Google password a number of occasions, until I went out of my method to peck it out v e r y s l o w l y. The touchpad, in the meantime, is usually practical, however I did sometimes lose management of the cursor. One time, for example, I meant to click on one thing from an internet site, however as an alternative ended up opening random hyperlinks from a unique a part of the web page. Certainly there’s one thing Toshiba can do to make sure that gestures like “faucet to click on” work a bit extra exactly.
Now that we have gotten that out of the best way, let’s bounce to the factor you are all most keen on: the show. Though the Chromebook 2 nonetheless comes commonplace with a 1,366 x 768 display (the worth there’s $250), you now have the choice of getting it with a full HD, 1,920 x 1,080 show as an alternative (that is the $330 mannequin). The distinction in sharpness is instantly noticeable, as it’s each time you graduate from a daily HD laptop computer to a full HD one. These additional pixels got here in particularly useful for my marathon Netflix and Hulu streaming periods, although I confess my eyes could not all the time deal with the tiny textual content on common webpages. Particularly, I struggled with issues like Gmail and the Spotify net participant — websites the place there have been simply too many strains of textual content for me to have the ability to learn with out squinting. As you’ll be able to think about, I made frequent use of the “Ctrl and plus signal” keyboard shortcut. Even so, whatever the scaling settings, the low-glare display allowed me to observe comfortably from all types of angles: sitting upright on the sofa with the laptop computer on my legs, and mendacity down with the machine resting towards my knees. The colours are good too — vibrant, however not so oversaturated that they appear unnatural.
In the meantime, on the audio entrance, Toshiba just lately began utilizing Skullcandy audio system in most of its low-finish and mid-vary laptops, together with the brand new Chromebook 2. Regardless of that model identify painted on the chassis, I nonetheless managed to be stunned by how good the sound was. For one factor, it is loud. Virtually uncomfortably loud at occasions, however nonetheless, it is good to know it could crank up that prime, when wanted. I did discover a little bit of distortion at prime quantity, which is usually the case with laptops, however once more, as a result of the machine was so loud, there was loads of leeway to decrease the degrees and nonetheless take pleasure in each good sound and audible quantity. From there, with the quantity set comfortably round 50 %, I had fun spinning all types of music: bluegrass, jazz, electronica, British pop from the ’60s, hip-hop and no matter style we expect the Austin Powers theme falls into (kidding, Quincy Jones followers!). All informed, it is a few of the greatest audio I’ve heard on any laptop computer, which is particularly superb since this one solely prices $330.Efficiency and battery life
Setting apart these artificial-check outcomes, the Chromebook 2 was capable of sustain with me. More often than not, anyway. Utilizing the constructed-in browser, I did a disgusting quantity of Black Friday purchasing, regularly opening new tabs to browse further shops or examine costs. All through, the machine loaded new tabs shortly, and never as soon as in my testing did it crash or fail to load a website. I additionally spent a very good portion of my vacation weekend binge-watching Scandal, streaming from Google Play and Hulu for lord-is aware of-how-many hours. Video playback was all the time clean, little question because of the upgraded 802.11ac WiFi radio. The machine by no means received scorching, precisely, although I might really feel the underside aspect rising hotter as I rested the laptop computer on my legs — and that was by means of my pants too. Actually, the one time I felt in any respect annoyed was once I was listening to Spotify by means of the app’s net participant: There have been a number of situations once I went to open a brand new tab and the audio minimize out briefly earlier than choosing up once more. Moreover, I observed some tiling when resizing home windows to full display, nevertheless it all the time went away after a quick pause.
Toshiba says the Chromebook 2’s three-cell, 44Wh battery is sweet for as much as 9 hours of runtime, however I by no means fairly reached that milestone. Notably in our normal video-rundown check — an admittedly grueling check if ever there was one — I solely obtained six hours and 34 minutes of steady HD video playback. You may all the time drop down to plain definition, through which case you’ll be able to anticipate round seven and a half hours. With lighter use — browsing the online, checking e mail, streaming music — you must get nearer to the 9-hour mark. Even so, whereas the Chromebook 2’s battery life is pretty regular in comparison with most competing units, it is considerably brief relative to different 1080p Chromebooks, particularly. The Samsung Chromebook 2, for example, can final via almost eight.5 hours of ordinary-def video, whereas the Acer Chromebook thirteen managed round 10 hours.Software program
I am going to hold this part brief, simply because Chrome OS hasn’t seen any main updates just lately. Should you’ve solely simply began looking for a Chromebook, although, there are a pair issues you must know. First, each Chromebook comes with 100GB of Google Drive storage, free for 2 years. That is not simply Toshiba, however each model. It is an amazing perk, however as with that quick 9-second boot-up time, it should not have a lot bearing on which mannequin you purchase.
Second: Although you’ll be able to’t precisely do every part offline, you’ll be able to nonetheless do much more than you used to have the ability to. All the most important apps — Gmail, Google Drive and now Play Films — will work even with out an web connection. So, you will not be screwed if you end up on an extended flight with no onboard WiFi — however you’ll nonetheless should do some superior planning and “pin” particular person information for offline use when you nonetheless have an web connection. Lastly, most of the apps within the Chrome Net Retailer help offline use too, together with some huge names like Pocket and Amazon’s Kindle Cloud Reader. Actually, should you like, you’ll be able to even filter the Chrome Net Retailer’s search outcomes to solely present offline-prepared apps.The competitors
When you’re out there for an inexpensive laptop computer, however nonetheless need a crisp 1080p show, your choices are principally restricted to 4 fashions: the Toshiba Chromebook 2 I am reviewing right here, in addition to the thirteen-inch Samsung Chromebook 2 (now $350), the Acer Chromebook thirteen ($300-plus) and the HP Chromebook 14 ($440). Except for the Acer, which begins with 2GB of RAM, all of them come normal with 4GB of reminiscence. Aside from that, then, the actual variations come right down to design and processor selection. I am going to get the design half out of the best way actual fast and simply let you recognize that the Samsung Chromebook 2 is the one one with something resembling a “premium” design; the others are fairly plain.
As for efficiency, Acer and HP use NVIDIA’s Tegra K1 chip, which outshines its rivals in sure use instances — specifically, graphics-intensive web sites — however you are still not more likely to discover a lot of a distinction in on a regular basis use. Samsung, in the meantime, makes use of its personal proprietary Exynos chip, whereas Toshiba went with an Intel Bay Path-collection Celeron CPU, just like what you will discover in most different Chromebooks. Throughout the board, efficiency is what I might name “ok,” with sub-10-second boot-up occasions and infrequently any crashes. If something, battery life is the actual differentiator right here. As I stated earlier, the Toshiba Chromebook 2 has the worst battery lifetime of the bunch. Samsung’s Chromebook 2 is just modestly superior, whereas Acer’s is a lot better. Once more, too, Acer’s can also be the least costly, which is one other plus.
Whichever you select, you are going to be exhausting-pressed to discover a Home windows PC at this worth with such a pointy show. And as I discovered lately once I reviewed the HP Stream eleven, although Home windows PCs are getting cheaper and cheaper, they do not essentially really feel as quick as Chromebooks, even when they’ve the identical processor. That stated, a few of you’ll nonetheless want the choice of putting in desktop apps like iTunes, by which case, the Stream eleven is an effective purchase certainly. Additionally, Microsoft is sweetening the deal by throwing in 1TB of OneDrive area and a $25 Home windows Retailer present card, and I think that as extra PC makers begin promoting Home windows-based mostly Chromebook rivals of their very own, you are going to see different manufacturers providing the identical promotion. One thing to think about for those who do not assume you’ll be able to stay within the cloud 24/7.Wrap-up
Toshiba’s newest Chromebook is a transparent enchancment over its predecessor, what with its shiny 1080p display, boomier audio and barely lighter design than a few of its rivals. You usually cannot go fallacious right here, particularly at this worth, however there are simply sufficient quirks that maintain me from calling this greatest in school. Chief amongst them are a budget construct high quality and comparatively shallow keyboard, particularly since, for $20 extra, you will get Samsung’s thirteen-inch Chromebook 2, which has a fake-leather-based lid and cushier keys to sort on. Additionally, whereas the Toshiba Chromebook 2 has respectable battery life in comparison with different Chrome OS units, it falls in need of different 1080p fashions particularly; the Acer Chromebook thirteen, for example, outlasts it by a superb two and a half hours. It appears, then, that none of those massive-identify choices are good on their very own, however Toshiba’s providing is a minimum of fairly good.
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