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Toshiba Chromebook 2: Battery Life

By Aatif Sulleyman

Updated:

Awards

  • Recommended by TR

Summary

Our Score:

9

Toshiba Chromebook 2 – Performance and Connectivity

An Intel Celeron processor sits inside the Chromebook 2, paired with 4GB of RAM in the Full HD model and 2GB of RAM in the HD version. Overall, performance is good. The Chromebook 2 boots quickly, though we noticed a little lag when we used it after not shutting it down for two days.

You get 16GB of on-board storage, which is used to hold anything incompatible with Google Drive. Since this is a Chromebook, most of your files will be stored in the cloud. The Toshiba Chromebook 2 comes with 100GB of free cloud storage via Drive, which is like Google’s own version of Microsoft’s Office suite.

You have to be connected to the internet to make full use of the Drive apps, but we experienced a bit of trouble in this respect. The Chromebook 2 flat-out refused to connect to the wireless network in the office, despite it working perfectly well on every other device. This was the only network we had trouble with, though.

Impressively, it has 802.11ac+agn Wi-Fi – the latest and fastest version – and Bluetooth 4.0.

Related: 802.11ac vs 802.11n: What's the difference?

We watched a lot of video content on the Chromebook 2, and found no faults with anything we saw on-screen. It handles HD video and general computing tasks smoothly – most will have no problems using the Chromebook 2 day-to-day. Out of curiosity, however, we decided to see how far we could push it.

It coped fairly well with our first challenge, which involved running 45 separate tabs at the same time. Apart from a few jolty cursor movements and a little lag between keyboard input and characters appearing on-screen, we experienced no issues.

We then pushed the Chromebook 2 beyond its limits by seeing how many YouTube clips it could simultaneously play at 1080p, with eight other tabs running in the background.

10 clips caused the Chromebook 2 to crash and restart itself, so we closed five of them. This improved the situation, but video was very slow and sticky, taking a 1.25 clip 1.55 to play. With four YouTube tabs up, the same 1.25 video took 1.38 to play and with three up, it took 1.31.

It only played at normal speed when we took it down to two YouTube clips at the same time and the base also became very warm throughout this. It only ever got slightly warm in general use, though, and these aren't 'normal' tests by any measure.

Toshiba Chromebook 2 – Software

If you’re used to Windows and OS X, pay attention. The Chromebook 2 runs Chrome OS, which is very different to Microsoft’s and Apple’s software. Instead of programs, it runs web apps. It’s built to make the most of Google’s ecosystem, and revolves almost entirely around Chrome. This means you have to have a Google account and a reliable internet connection to make full use of it.

A handful of apps, like Google Drive, are available offline, but any changes you make to documents will only be saved once you get online again.

It’s actually not as limiting as you might initially think, though. After all, most of us barely do anything on our computers without being connected to the Internet, unless you really, really love playing Spider Solitaire. However, some very popular programs aren’t yet available on Chrome OS.

Skype is a huge miss. Google’s own alternative, Hangouts, works well for text-based communications but isn’t as good at video calls. iTunes and VLC media player are also missing, but Spotify is supported and other music streaming services work fine through the browser. You can still download Word documents and PDF files, though you can only access these in Google Drive.

Chrome OS is straightforward to use and relatively easy to familiarise yourself with. The Chromebook 2 comes equipped with an honest, in-depth user guide packed with handy tips. In addition to general advice and shortcuts, it confesses that vital apps are missing, and displays Chrome OS alternatives to them. The guide isn’t buried, either. It’s easily accessible from the status tray, which lies in the bottom right corner of the screen.

The status tray also shows important information like time, battery life and Settings. The only criticism we can make of it is that you can’t hover over icons to get info – you have to actually click on them to find out what you need.

A notifications area sits immediately to the left of the status bar, and brings up information Google thinks is relevant for you. In our case, it brought up the weather, directions back home and lots of football scores. You can easily control what pops up by tinkering with your preferences.

A launcher similar to the Start button sits in the bottom left-hand corner of the screen, and grants access to all of Google’s goodies, including Drive, Play Music and the Chrome Web Store, which is different to Google Play. While Play lets you download apps, games and music for your smartphone or tablet, the Chrome Web Store is full of apps, extensions and themes built for the Chrome browser.

Those of you who love to customise your computer should be left satisfied by a wide range of themes and backgrounds, which are easy to flick through and apply. Adding multiple users is also simple, but anybody who wants to use the Chromebook 2 without the hassle of creating a new user profile will be able to via the Guest Browsing feature. Guest users are permitted to visit websites and download files, but can't install new apps.

Toshiba Chromebook 2 – Battery Life

Toshiba says the Full HD Chromebook 2 will last up to nine hours off a single charge, and the HD version will keep going for 11.5 hours. These are good numbers, and real-world use supports the claims.

We squeezed just over nine hours out of the Full HD model while working on Google Drive, browsing the web and watching TV shows.

It’s a reasonably quick charger too, with a 30-minute blast taking it up to 30% battery from flat. The only real issue we found was that the status tray only warned us when we got to 1% battery life. We’d have preferred a heads-up much sooner – a notification at 10% would be much more useful and would have helped us avoid the mad scramble for the charger.

Should I buy the Toshiba Chromebook 2?

We’d recommend the Chromebook 2 to anyone absolutely sure they can cope without programs like Skype, Microsoft Word, VLC media player and iTunes. Chrome OS is really easy to use, but be certain of your needs before taking the plunge.

The Full HD version of the Chromebook 2 is a treat for the eyes. Its screen is sharp, bright and vivid, elevating it well beyond the level its £249 price tag suggests. The speakers, battery life and performance are good too – it delivers as a work tool and as an entertainment laptop. The only real downside is build quality, with the screen element feeling very fragile.

As for alternatives, the top spec Chromebook 2 is £50 more expensive than the £199 Acer C720 Chromebook but beats it hands-down in terms of features and overall quality. It’s also superior to the HP Chromebook 14, which will set you back £279. The HD Chromebook 2 isn’t as visually stunning and features pared down specs but, at just £199, it’s still an enticing model if you really strapped for cash. If you're not convinced by any of those, head to our best laptops round-up for more options.

Verdict

If you want a Chromebook, the Toshiba Chromebook 2 is the one we recommend. It has a great screen, looks good and delivers in every way that matters.

Overall Score

9

Scores In Detail

  • Battery Life 8
  • Build Quality 7
  • Design 8
  • Heat & Noise 7
  • Keyboard 9
  • Performance 8
  • Screen Quality 9
  • Touchpad 9
  • Value 10

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/gadg...

>>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/...

There is a h265 player available:

https://chrome.google.com/w...

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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