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Toshiba Chromebook 2 review: An attractive Chrome OS experience

JR Raphael | Oct. 27, 2014
From its admirable build quality to its outstanding speakers and display, Toshiba's Chromebook 2 offers an appealing yet affordable Chrome OS package.

Actually, the fact that the Chromebook 2's screen is IPS instead of TN is the most significant factor in its eye-pleasing appearance. As devices like Samsung's Chromebook 2 have demonstrated, putting 1080p on a low-quality display panel is akin to putting lipstick on a pig -- you can dress it up all you want, but it's still going to look awful. And on the flip side, the aforementioned Yoga 11e Chromebook has shown us that lower resolution on a high-quality IPS screen can look pretty darn good.

That being said, the Chromebook 2's 1080p resolution does make a noticeable impact: Compared to the Yoga 11e, text on the Chromebook 2 is extra sharp and images are especially detailed. The higher resolution also means elements on the screen are smaller, which makes the display feel even more spacious than it already is (though it also makes text on webpages uncomfortably small to read -- something I've had to get around by increasing the system's default zoom level to 125%). All in all, an IPS panel is the most important part of creating a good viewing experience, but the addition of 1080p resolution is certainly nice icing on the cake.

The Chromebook 2 also excels in the realm of audio: The laptop's speakers are simply spectacular and a significant notch above what any other system in this class provides. The front-facing dual stereo speakers are hidden beneath the Chromebook's keyboard; music played through them is loud and clear and not in the least bit hollow or tinny. The bass is so present, in fact, that you can actually feel the vibrations if you turn up the sound while the device is on your lap.

Toshiba says the speakers were "fine-tuned" for both "quality and attitude" (whatever that means) by the folks at Skullcandy -- a fact you won't soon forget, thanks to the prominent printing of the Skullcandy logo beneath the Chromebook's keyboard. How much of a difference that "tuning" makes is debatable, but one thing's for sure: Audio played through this computer sounds fantastic.

The rest of the Chromebook 2's body is fine but unremarkable: The keyboard is the standard Chrome OS chiclet setup. The keys are well-spaced and easy to type on; while they're not at the level of quality you'd get with a higher-end system like the Yoga 11e, they're very much in line with what we see on most decent entry-level Chromebooks.

The same can be said for the trackpad, which works well but has a hard plasticky feel and is nothing to write home about. Like the keyboard, it's on par for this class of device -- not extraordinary, but no real cause for complaint.

 

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