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Toshiba Chromebook 2 review

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  • Recommended by TR

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Toshiba Chromebook 2
  • Toshiba Chromebook 2
  • Toshiba Chromebook 2
  • Toshiba Chromebook 2
  • Toshiba Chromebook 2
  • Toshiba Chromebook 2
  • Toshiba Chromebook 2
  • Toshiba Chromebook 2
  • Toshiba Chromebook 2
  • Toshiba Chromebook 2
  • Toshiba Chromebook 2
  • Toshiba Chromebook 2
  • Toshiba Chromebook 2
  • Toshiba Chromebook 2
  • Toshiba Chromebook 2
  • Toshiba Chromebook 2
  • Toshiba Chromebook 2
  • Toshiba Chromebook 2
  • Toshiba Chromebook 2
  • Toshiba Chromebook 2
  • Toshiba Chromebook 2
  • Toshiba Chromebook 2
  • Toshiba Chromebook 2
  • Toshiba Chromebook 2
  • Toshiba Chromebook 2
  • Toshiba Chromebook 2
  • Toshiba Chromebook 2
  • Toshiba Chromebook 2

Summary

Our Score:

9

Pros

  • Excellent Full HD display
  • Outstanding value for money
  • Good battery life
  • Simple, attractive design
  • High-quality keyboard and trackpad

Cons

  • Fragile lid

Key Features

  • 13.3-inch screen
  • 1,920 x 1,080 IPS display
  • 1.35kg
  • Intel Celeron processor
  • 4GB RAM
  • 16GB built-in storage
  • Manufacturer: Toshiba
  • Review Price: £249.00

What is the Toshiba Chromebook 2?

The Chromebook 2 is the follow-up to the original Toshiba Chromebook, which we really liked when it launched early last year. It’s a 13-inch laptop that comes in two different versions – one with a Full HD screen (1,920 x 1,080) and one with an HD screen (1,366 x 768) – that are available for £249 and £199 respectively.

We think the Chromebook 2 is even better than the first, too. Chromebooks are generally cheap and cheerful but are hampered by dull design and poor quality screens. The Chromebook 2 is different. It’s attractive, has an excellent screen and is outstanding value for money. Read on to find out why we like it so much.

Watch – Trusted Explains: Laptops vs Tablets, which is best for you?

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Toshiba Chromebook 2 – Design

The Toshiba Chromebook 2 is a well-proportioned laptop that'll easily slot into a standard messenger bag or backpack, and its 1.35kg weight means that carrying it around won’t be a struggle. At 320mm wide and 214mm deep, it’s about the same size as a 13-inch MacBook Air, and at 19.3mm thick it’s only slightly thicker, too. That’s damn impressive given it costs a fraction of the price.

It’s similar in shape to most modern-day laptops, and has clearly taken design tips from the MacBook Air. The Chromebook 2 has lots of curved corners and a chunky base that tapers to a point at the front side. Clad in silver-coloured plastic, it’s simple but good-looking and the dot pattern on top adds texture and ensures it stands out from the crowd.

It doesn’t feel particularly solid, though. We could easily bend the screen element by applying a little pressure to the lid with our fingers. This distorted the display, with blue, abstract-looking fingermarks appearing on-screen. We think we could seriously damage it with our hands alone if we tried. However, it survived a night out in London completely unscathed, despite being knocked about in its bag quite often.

Connections are basic, but ample. On the left side are the charging port, micro USB 2.0 and SD card slot. HDMI-out, the headphone jack, a Kensington security lock and the USB 3.0 slot sit on the right-hand side. The latter supports sleep-and-charge, meaning that devices plugged into the slot charge even when the Chromebook 2 is asleep – a handy feature when you need it.

SEE ALSO: Best Laptops for Students

Toshiba Chromebook 2 – Screen and Sound

The 13.3-inch, 1,920 x 1,080 IPS display is the Chromebook 2’s crowning glory. It’s stunning and feels like it should be attached to a much more expensive laptop. A 1,366 x 768 display is also available for less money, but the Full HD version is worth shelling out the extra £50 for.

Colours are rich and bright, and the quality of blacks is very impressive for such a cheap laptop. It’s great for watching films on. Viewing angles aren't as good – brightness drops and colours distort the wider you go – but three people can watch a films on it without huge difficulty.

It’s lovely and bright too, topping out at 300 nits. You won’t need to blast it up to its highest setting indoors, but you will if you plan to use it outside in the sunshine. This worked fine for us, and the display’s coating seems to reduce glare from the sun, which is handy too.

The speakers are tuned by Skullcandy, and are completely invisible because they’re hidden beneath the keyboard. Sound quality is impressive. The speakers are loud and deliver a really crisp sound, making the Chromebook 2 great for listening to music and watching TV on. It easily overpowered the loud whirring of the washing machine in the next room.

SEE ALSO: Best Tablets

Toshiba Chromebook 2 – Keyboard and Trackpad

The Chromebook 2 has a black tile keyboard that is slightly different to the ones on Windows PCs and MacBooks. For example, there’s no Caps Lock, Delete or Print Screen here. This takes a little getting used to, particularly the loss of the Delete key, but you’ll get used to it.

On the whole, the keys are a good size and are spaced far enough apart to make quick typing nice and easy. They offer a good amount of travel, too. We found the narrower than normal Enter key slightly awkward – it’s easy to accidentally press down on the hash key (#) instead – but it’s not the worst we’ve used. We miss the backlighting of pricier laptops, but you can’t complain about this on a £250 machine.

Above the numbers row are 10 buttons that control settings and functions, flanked by Escape and the Power. These are all marked with different icons, most of which are instantly recognisable. There’s a left-pointing arrow to go back and a large symbol of the sun to increase brightness, for instance.

The three volume keys (up, down and mute) are a little annoying to use, though. Hitting the mute button twice doesn’t mute and unmute, as you’d expect it to. Instead, you have to press the volume up key to turn sound back on. It’s a minor issue, but an irritating one.

SEE ALSO: Best Windows 8 Laptops, Tablets, Convertibles and PCs

The trackpad is large and excellent to use. It feels solid, offering a good amount of resistance when you’re clicking. Moreover, like the MacBook Air, it doesn’t have separate buttons for right and left click. Instead, clicking with one finger activates the left click, while clicking with two fingers activates the right click. We like this system better than the clumsy systems employed on many Windows laptops.

The trackpad supports a wide range of gesture controls, too. Swiping right with two fingers takes you to the previous page, while doing the same in the opposite direction takes you forwards. Swiping with more than two fingers allows you to switch tabs, and swiping up with three fingers displays all of the windows you have open at any time. These all worked perfectly for us, and they’re surprisingly easy to remember once you start using them regularly.

iFrank

September 5, 2014, 3:33 am

Could be a tablet killer.

Prem Desai

September 5, 2014, 12:58 pm

Hopefully they'll up the processor for a bit more cash.

I tend to stay away from any intel atom or celeron kit - bitter experiences and an empty wallet have taught me that .....

Chromemaster

October 1, 2014, 9:29 am

The Haswell Celeron CPU's work more than fine with Chrome - Windows does not work well with Celeron - it's not a windows machine it's a CHROMEBOOK!

Andrew Ballard

October 1, 2014, 4:46 pm

HP Chromebook 11 (using one now), released last year I think, also has a lovely IPS screen, it's great all round, including build quality, excepting the trackpad and rather sluggish CPU it uses, which also hits the battery life. The Chromebook 2 from Toshiba looks really fine indeed, and the Celeron is more than enough for chrome, and significantly superior to an exynos one.

SPM

October 1, 2014, 10:01 pm

Damn! This is a Windows killer!

John

January 27, 2015, 11:59 am

What's the point of 1080p when ChromeOS doesn't properly handle H264/5 and AC3 video and sound codecs?

Matthew Bunton

February 6, 2015, 6:08 pm

It's not for me but looks great value for money. I would imagine that students will be the target market.

John

February 7, 2015, 9:12 am

Not without any AC3 and various other software support it isn't.

I love Chromebooks (I have one) but I still find I need to keep a Windows laptop available to use certain other pieces of software.

SPM

February 7, 2015, 10:18 pm

What are you talking about?

SPM

February 7, 2015, 11:07 pm

There are a complex mix of video codecs, audio codecs and containers possible - most are used very rarely - I think you are getting very confused by the meaning of screen resolution, container, video codec, and audio codec.

The Chromebook handles all common video streaming formats on the Internet. Certainly it handles the following media container formats:

mp3, ogg, H.264 and .3gp, .avi, .mov, .mp4, .m4v, .m4a, .mp3, .mkv, .ogv, .ogm, .ogg, .oga, .webm, .wav

First audio codecs, video codecs, and container support are all required to play a video - and that applies to 1080p resolution as much as 720p resolution or lower resolution videos. You won't be able to any video without the necessary codecs and container support.

Second ChromeOS does support the H.264 video codec. ChromeOS also supports all the other commonly used video codecs - Theora, VP8, MPEG4, DIVX, XVID. It also supports the commonly used audio codecs MP3, AAC and AMR-NB. AC3 is used in HD-DVD and Blu-Ray disc playback, not in web based streamed media, so it seems a little pointless including it in a Chromebook, which doesn't include a DVD or Blu-Ray disc, and is not intended for video ripping. AC3 is included in XBox One only because it has a Blu-Ray drive.

Third, the very recently released VP9 and H.265 video codecs are very new, and very few hardware devices, media services or software support them as yet. There doesn't seem to be much point using H.265 over H.264 if there is no hardware support. Suffice to say that given ChromeOS's rapid release cycle of updates every few weeks Chromebooks will support them before most Windows devices or tablets will. Google is the biggest provider of video content. Suffice to say that Chromebooks will be better supported for video codecs than Windows devices. Case in point as of Dec 10 2014, XBox One does not support H.265 either. It also doesn't support VP8, Theora, or the .ogg audio container format which are much more common: http://arstechnica.com/gadgets...

>>Cursory testing showed that both MPEG-4 and H.264 video codecs were supported, with AAC, HE-AAC, AC3, and MP3 audio all working. The relative newcomer H.265 and open source friendly Theora and VP8 video codecs did not appear to work.<<

John

February 8, 2015, 12:23 pm

You don't understand English? Or are you just unfamiliar with software and technology?

SPM

February 8, 2015, 5:19 pm

No, I understand English perfectly well. I am saying you don't understand what you are talking about, because what you are saying is complete gobbledegook..

1) 1080p is a video resolution, not a codec. Playing of any video in any resolution resolution will require video codec support - not just 1080p, so saying what is the point of 1080p if it doesn't handle the video codecs, is nonsensical since you would need the same video codecs for 720p and every other resolution.

2) Chromebooks do support the H.264 codec (and all the common modern video and audio codecs and container formats used on the Internet).

3) The H.265 video format was released late 2014, and very few hardware decoding devices support it yet. For example Xbox One does not support it. I will be some time before H.265 video has a significant presence in Internet media. There is also not much point supporting it on a device that can't do accelerated hardware decoding of H.265 on the device - because without hardware accelerated decoding, you get better performance if you stick to the ubiquitous H.264 video codec since virtually all devices have accelerated support for this, and this codec is universally supported by media providers on the Internet. Suffice to say that ChromeOS will support H.265 sooner than XBox One given the much quicker update cycle for ChromeOS. Of course this will be for future Chromebook models with H.265 hardware decoding support. Of course while newer PCs with high end GPUs supporting 4K video are likely to get H.265 support eventually, XBox One is unlikely to ever get H.265 support, because of the need to maintain 100% software/hardware compatibility through all models of the same gaming console.

4) The AC3 audio codec is used in BlueRay movie media as it is included as part of that standard. It is not used to any significant extent on the Internet. This codec makes sense on devices with BlueRay drives built in, but since Chromebooks do not have a BluRay drives built in, and does not support external optical drives other than as USB storage devices (ie. they will read data from external USB optical drives, but will not do playback), it makes no sense to include the codec and pay a license for it.

SPM

February 8, 2015, 5:43 pm

Chromebooks do support H.264, there is no point supporting H.265 until hardware decoding for the codec is provided on the device. H.265 is very rarely used because it was released at the end of 2014, and most devices don't support the codec in hardware.

AC3 is an audio codec used on BlueRay disks. There is no point supporting it on a Chromebook if it doesn't come with a BlueRay drive built in.

Adrian Bell

February 9, 2015, 10:59 am

Excellent post, the scaremongering over the lack of audio and video codec support within the OS was stopping me from pushing the button on a Chromebook. However clearly its not as big a deal as some are making it out to be. Thanks for clearing that up.

John

February 10, 2015, 11:29 pm

Wow, it must have taken you Google all that and STILL get your information wrong. You clearly missed out the part about 'cursory testing' and omitted to mention that you clearly don't have any real world experience of trying to run various format sound and video files on ChromeOS.

John

February 10, 2015, 11:29 pm

You are clueless. Absolutely clueless. You clearly don't have much experience of trying to run various video and audio files on ChromeOS, given that the native ChromeOS video player doesn't decode AC3. If you think ChromeOS is a "Windows killer" given that it can't do half the things that a Windows OS can, you must be smoking the crack pipe or are some deluded 'fan boy'.

John

February 10, 2015, 11:33 pm

It's a terrible post with a ton of misinformation. Go download some popular videos from a well known file sharing site and see how few of them will actually play AC3/AAC sound. It's a proprietary codec which ChromeOS doesn't have a licence for.

Adrian Bell

February 11, 2015, 9:44 am

Ill reply in that someone with a Chromebook wades in, although I suspect I'm about to get horribly insulted judging by some of your previous posts:).

AAC is in the list of supported codecs:

https://support.google.com/chr...

There is a h265 player available:

https://chrome.google.com/webs...

And doesnt PLEX sort all this out?

Adrian Bell

February 11, 2015, 9:45 am

Anyone have any idea where you can actually buy one of these things from in the EU?

John

February 15, 2015, 12:23 pm

Adrian, forget what you read on Google. I can assure you that in the real world, AC3 codec support is problematic. I'm typing this on a Chromebook, and there are a huge number of videos that do not play sound in the native ChromeOS player. Yes you can use H265 player but it's pretty raw in development and a real resource hog (think dropped frames, pixelled screens etc the larger the file). It also doesn't support subtitles. So for example, if you were to try and play Andrey Zvyagintsev's "Leviathan" as an Xvid / AC3 file in a MKV container, you either have to play it through H265 player with subtitles but no sound, or use Subtitle Videoplayer (from the Chrome Store) which will give you subtitles but no sound, or use the native ChromeOS video player which neither gives you sound nor subtitles!

The only way around this seems to be creating Ubuntu as a dual boot and using Linux VLC, but then it's no longer ChromeOS....

If you are aware of a way around this, I'm all ears, I've yet to find a native solution in ChromeOS. In fact, it's a pretty common issue from the online forums. I love the lightweight footprint of ChromeOS but needs a lot of development. It was only about 2 months ago that they finally got round to a fix a mouse speed bug that made the pointer move too slowly when using an external mouse!

John

February 15, 2015, 9:22 pm

No point supporting AC3? The majority of compressed videos use AC3.

Guest

February 15, 2015, 9:25 pm

You clearly don't have much experience of trying to run various video and audio files on ChromeOS, given that the native ChromeOS video player doesn't decode AC3.

John

February 15, 2015, 9:33 pm

Celerons are fine on Chromebooks. ChromeOS is lightweight and efficient. With ChromeOS memory is more important ie go for 4gb if you can.

John

February 16, 2015, 1:03 pm

Forgot to mention that even with H265 Player, there are some AC3 sound files that simply refuse to play, throwing up a 'Error whilst decoding audio packet' error.

Adrian Bell

February 17, 2015, 9:15 am

Well, looks like a bit of a complex situation. One question though. doesn't PLEX sort all this out for you (if you have a central media sharing device of course)?

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