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Reviews

TOSHIBA Chromebook 2

TOSHIBA Chromebook 2

An HD screen and improved performance make the Toshiba Chromebook 2 the best Chromebook around.

Toshiba’s first Chromebook was one of last year’s best Google-powered laptops. It was great value,with a13.3in form factor that allowed more room to manoeuvre than an 11in laptop while remaining portable.Toshiba has kept this winning formula for the Chromebook 2but with several improvements that make it even more desirable if a bit more expensive.

TOSHIBA Chromebook 2

The biggest change is with the screen. The low-resolution 1,366×768 display found in almost every Chromebook has been replaced by a Full HD 1,920×1,080 pixel panel. This makes a huge difference when multitasking, as you can easily work with two windows side by side. A tits current price,the Chromebook 2isone of the cheapest laptops on the market to offer a Full HD screen.

Image quality is extremely impressive.In our tests the panel displayed 87.5 per cent of the sRGB colour gamut, which would be astonishing in amid-range laptop,let alone one that costs less than £300. Contrast is also high at 973:1, with reasonably low black levels of 0.39cd/m2. Aside from the $1,200-plus Chromebook Pixel, this is the best screen we’ve seen on a Chromebook

The Chromebook 2has plenty of other benefits too. Toshiba has cut the weight from 1.5kg to 1.35kg. It’s a small change but carrying it in one hand is now much more comfortable. It’s also slightly thinner ,at19.3mm compared with the original’s 20mm. Toshiba has in turn reduced the number of USB ports from three to two,with aUSB3 connector on the right and as lower USB port on the left side.Also present is a full-size HDMI port for connecting an external monitor,and a3.5mm audio jack.

It’s not a beautiful device,although the dotted texture on the lid adds a little flair .Its build quality feels good, though, with little flex when you push on the touchpad. Keyboards are typically Toshiba’s weakness, and while the 13.3in case means there’s plenty of room, the shallow range of motion from the keys remains as light issue.We had no problems with missed keystrokes, but we’d have liked a little bit more movement from the keys. Instead of a row of Fn keys at the top, the Chromebook 2has a set of keys that control the Chrome OS operating system. Also missing is the Caps lock key, which has been replaced by a search button. Hitting the Alt key in conjunction with this button does activate Caps lock, though.

The Chromebook 2ispowered by an Intel Celeron N2840 and 4GB of RAM. It’s a dual-core chip with abase clock speed of 2.16GHz and can boost to 2.58GHz when cool enough. Our standard benchmarks don’t work with Chromebooks, so we ran the SunSpider 1.0.2 JavaScript test instead. It completed this in 549.9ms –slower than the previous Chromebook’s 451.4ms. This is surprising given that the old Chromebook has as lower 1.4GHz processor ,but while we have no reason to doubt the accuracy of the figure, the Chromebook 2was much more sprightly when browsing image-heavy websites.

Charger the light brigade

Battery life is good at 7h 20m, which is slightly longer than last year’s model. With screen brightness turned down you could feasibly use this laptop all day without recharging, but you should carry the lightweight charger any way if you can.

Chrome OS remains an interesting proposition, not least because manufacturers don’t have to pay to install it on their devices. It’s a lightweight operating system that mostly runs in the Chrome web browser,but you can still carry out more basic tasks such as transferring photos from USB drives and SD cards. However,with only 16GB of SSD storage on board, you’ll need to embrace working in the cloud. Google provides 100GB of Google Drive for two years to get you started. You don’t need a constant internet connection to carry out basic work, either – Google Docs, Sheets and Slides can be used offline if you install afree extension from the Chrome webstore.The applications are good, with plenty of features, although not quiteas comprehensive as Microsoft Office Online.

The Toshiba Chromebook 2isthe best Chromebook on sale in the UK at the time of writing, squeezing aFull HD screen and great performance into a device costing £270. It takes the crown as our favourite mid-sized Chromebook. Just be careful that you buy the correct model –when we searched for “Toshiba Chromebook 2” online,shops selling the original Toshiba Chromebooks were placed above stores selling the new version, so check the specifications before you buy.

With the likes of Asus releasing super cheap laptops with cloud storage included, Chromebooks have a challenge on their hands. The higher price of this machine may put customers off,but we think it’s definitely worth paying the extra for the Full HD screen.

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