The Toshiba Chromebook 2 (CB35-C3350) offers more power than most of its lower-price counterparts, settling into a middle ground between budget Chrome OS-based laptops and high-end chromebooks like the Google Chromebook Pixel and the Dell Chromebook 13. With an Intel Core i3 processor and a brilliant 1080p In-Plane Switching (IPS) display, the Chromebook 2 can tackle work, as well as entertain, thanks to its sharp screen. However, its battery life was fairly short in our rundown test, and Chrome OS is still best-suited to Web browsing and simple tasks, so the extra processing power might not be necessary. The Asus Chromebook Flip (C100PA-DB02) remains our Editors' Choice chromebook for its lower price and aluminum build, but if you're set on Chrome OS and want more power and a nicer, larger screen, the Toshiba Chromebook 2 might be right for you.
Design and Features
The Chromebook 2 is made of silver-colored plastic, with a raised dot pattern covering the lid and base. The texture provides a good grip, though I can't help but think it would look and feel a bit sleeker with a smooth lid. The laptop measures 0.76 by 12.6 by 8.4 inches (HWD) and weighs 2.9 pounds. It feels nice and light to hold, even in the crook of your arm. The Asus Chromebook Flip measures 0.61 by 10.35 by 7.18 inches and weighs 1.96 pounds, though its slimmer height and weight can be attributed to its 10.6-inch size, compared with the Chromebook 2's 13.3-inch display. Systems closer in size to the Toshiba model include the Dell Chromebook 13, which measures 0.51 by 12.93 by 9 inches and weighs 3.23 pounds, and the HP Stream 13$210.99 at Groupon, which measures 0.77 by 13.25 by 9 inches and weighs 3.33 pounds.
The 13.3-inch display features a full-HD (1,920-by-1,080) resolution, just like the older Toshiba CB35-B3340 Chromebook 2, and IPS technology for wide viewing angles, allowing you to see a clear picture even if you're looking at it off-center. It's not uncommon for systems at this price to offer a 720p-resolution screen or leave out IPS technology—the Dell Chromebook 13 does the latter (and comes in at a higher price, too), while the Asus Chromebook Flip offers only a 1,280-by-800 resolution IPS display. Similarly priced laptops like the Acer Chromebook 15 (CB5-571-C09S) and the Toshiba Satellite C55DT-C5245 are missing IPS or 1080p resolution, respectively. Less-expensive systems like the CTL Chromebook J2 and the HP Stream 13 use 1,366-by-768 screens.
The keyboard features white LED backlighting, which looks nice against the silver frame, while the keys offer a bit of resistance. Whether or not that feels good while typing will depend on your personal preference, though I like a bit more travel. The trackpad is responsive, but it has a slight bumpy texture to it, which can be a little irritating on your finger.
The 16GB of solid-state eMMC flash memory is standard for chromebooks. Even the Dell Chromebook 13, a business-oriented system that costs almost twice as much, gives you just 32GB, as does the Google Chromebook Pixel. The reason for the limited local storage is the expectation that you, as a Chrome OS user, will use cloud storage and Web-based Chrome apps. Google offers 100GB of free Google Drive storage for two years, after which you'll have to pay a monthly fee. Reliance on Web-based services is part of the Chrome OS ecosystem, especially since Windows programs like Word and Excel are not compatible with the platform, so keep that in mind if they are essential to your business or projects. Online apps like Google Docs and Sheets are your alternatives, and can almost always get the job done. Microsoft's online service, Office 365, offers similar Web-based alternatives that are closer to traditional Office programs, but it still doesn't provide the full experience.
There's not too much in the way of connectivity options here, with a USB 2.0 port, an SD card slot, and the Power port on the left, and a USB 3.0 port, a headphone jack, and an HDMI port on the right side. It's a fairly basic offering without any major omissions, and you get dual-band 802.11ac Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.0 for wireless connectivity. Toshiba offers a one-year limited warranty on the Chromebook 2.
The Chromebook 2 features a 2.1GHz Intel Core i3-5015U processor, 4GB of memory, and integrated Intel HD graphics. In comparison, the Asus Chromebook Flip has a 1.8GHz Rockchip RK3288C ARM CPU (a lower-price and less-powerful processor), and 4GB of memory. The Core i3 CPU helps the system boot up and load quickly. It's not a processing powerhouse, but for an affordable Chrome OS laptop that will mostly browse the Web, stream video, and run a few applications, it's plenty fast. I was able to multitask without lag or delay during testing.
The Dell Chromebook 13 that we tested was able to handle more tasks at once without slowdown, but it's also more expensive than the Chromebook 2. The Dell system is also more pleasant to use due to the carbon fiber frame and great build; the Chromebook 2 feels less premium in comparison. Still, the Toshiba model's build is more substantial than less expensive systems, again affirming the Chromebook 2's place in the middle range of Chrome OS laptops.
Battery life was mediocre, lasting 5 hours 32 minutes on our rundown test. This pales in comparison to the Asus Flip's 11:15, but the Asus chromebook is running a smaller, lower-resolution screen than the Toshiba model. Still, other 13-inch systems lasted much longer too, like the HP Stream 13 (9:09) and the Dell Chromebook 13 (10:48). Because this is a Chrome OS system, it's unable to run the rest of our Windows-based benchmark tests.
The Toshiba Chromebook 2 (CB35-C3350) is a good middle ground if you're considering a chromebook, but don't want an underpowered system. Its Intel Core i3 processor and bright display don't make it feel like a compromise, and if you're able to work without Windows programs or features, it can keep you productive. I do think 32GB of local storage, rather than 16GB, would be more reasonable for those files that you need to keep on the laptop or must have when you can't get online, especially given the price. Though the Toshiba Chromebook 2 is a solid Chrome OS-equipped laptop that may appeal to those seeking a bit more processing power, the Asus Chromebook Flip (C100PA-DB02) remains our Editors' Choice. It currently offers the best example of the chromebook concept, with its moderately low price, high-quality metal build, and convertible design.
Type: General Purpose
Processor Name: Intel Core i3-5015U
Processor Speed: 2.1 GHz
Operating System: Google Chrome OS
RAM: 4 GB
Storage Capacity (as Tested): 16 GB
Graphics Card: Intel HD Graphics
Screen Size: 13.3 inches
Weight: 2.9 lb
Screen Type: Widescreen
Native Resolution: 1920 x 1080
Graphics Memory: 4096
Storage Type: Flash storage
Rotation Speed: SSD
Networking Options: 802.11ac (2.4+5.0 GHz Dual-band)
Battery Rundown - Standard Battery: 5:32 hrs:min