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Review: Dell Chromebook 13 vs. Toshiba Chromebook 2

JR Raphael | Nov. 9, 2015
Midrange Chromebooks have never been so good. Here's a long-term, real-world comparison of this season's standout models.

For the vast majority of people, upgrading to a model with a more powerful chip or additional RAM isn't going to make enough of a noticeable difference to be worth the extra cost. If you want to spend more money -- especially in the range of $600 to $900, as Dell's higher-level configurations climb -- you'd be better off bumping up to the high-end Pixel and gaining the top-of-the-line hardware, design and display it provides (all of which will be far more meaningful than the added processing power alone in day-to-day use).

In the configurations I'm reviewing, both laptops have 16GB of internal storage space along with a slot for external storage (regular, mini or micro SD on the Toshiba and -- somewhat strangely -- micro SD-only on the Dell). They both also include 100GB of Google Drive cloud storage for two years, which would cost about $48 if you paid for it outright.

We've got one more significant point of differentiation to cover and that's stamina: The Toshiba Chromebook 2 does admirably well, with a quoted 8.5 hours of battery life per charge and real-world results generally ranging between 6.5 to 7 hours for me. The Dell Chromebook 13, meanwhile, is outstanding: It's listed for a whopping 12 hours of use per charge, and I've been clocking in somewhere between 10 and 12 hours total on most days.

Remember, too, that my usage tends to be unusually resource-intensive and heavy on multitasking, so if you're more prone to keeping just one or two tabs open at a time -- the way most people use a Chromebook -- you'll probably be able to stretch things out even longer. Even with demanding use, though, both systems provide respectable battery life, with the Dell taking the clear lead in terms of true all-day computing.

I should also mention that each laptop uses its own proprietary charger, which may be a bummer to anyone hoping to move toward the up-and-coming universal USB Type-C standard. Thus far, the 2015 Pixel is the only Chromebook to feature such a connection.

Last but not least, the Dell and Toshiba Chromebooks share the same set of ports and connectors: one USB 2.0 port, one USB 3.0 port, a dedicated HDMI-out port, a headphone jack and a security lock slot.

Bottom line

If you're looking for the best all-around Chromebook you can buy short of $1,000 right now, Dell's Chromebook 13 is, without a doubt, it. The laptop redefines what a midrange Chromebook can be, with a combination of solid performance, a high-quality display and elevated build quality. If you have $429 to spend, it's the one you want to get.

 

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