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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.

Performance, stamina and storage
If this all sounds too good to be true for $330, here comes the caveat: The Chromebook 2's performance isn't amazing. In fact, it's significantly slower than other similarly priced and even cheaper Chrome OS products.

Toshiba's Chromebook 2 uses one of Intel's Bay Trail processors -- specifically, the dual-core Celeron N2840. With 4GB of RAM, the computer is usable but no speed demon -- and with higher levels of multitasking in particular, it really shows its limits.

So what does that mean in real-world terms? If you tend to keep just one or two tabs open at a time, it'll probably be fine for your purposes, although a bit less snappy than what some other Chromebooks would provide. If you regularly keep more than a few active tabs running at once, however, you might grow frustrated with the choppiness and lag that start to show up in those more intensive-use scenarios.

Of course, it's all relative. The Chromebook 2 is a firm step below Haswell-based devices like the Acer C720 and Dell Chromebook 11 when it comes to overall speed and capability. It's a smaller but still noticeable notch behind the Yoga 11e Chromebook, which also uses a Bay Trail processor but one that's quad-core and contains double the cache. On the other hand, it's a touch faster than the Acer Chromebook 11, which uses Nvidia's Tegra K1 processor -- a chip that sounds impressive on paper but is surprisingly imperfect in the Chrome OS context.

The Chromebook 2 is adequate when it comes to stamina: Though the system is listed for "up to nine hours" of use per charge, I've been tapping out after about 6.5 to 7 hours on most days. To be fair, that's with pretty heavy-duty work -- numerous tabs running and lots of multitasking -- and with the display at its default brightness level, which is somewhere around 66%. With less resource-intensive use or with the display brightness dialed down, it's quite possible the battery will stretch further.

On the plus side, the Chromebook 2 is essentially silent while it runs. The system does get a bit warm from time to time, but not to any degree that's particularly shocking or bothersome.

Toshiba's laptop comes with 16GB of internal SSD space as well as 100GB of cloud storage from Google Drive for two years. The computer has an SD card reader as well, if you want to add more local storage; it also has one USB 2.0 port and one USB 3.0 port for external device connections.

Bottom line
Unless you're willing to shell out some serious cash, Chromebooks require a certain level of compromise -- and Toshiba's Chromebook 2 is no exception.

 

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