A MacBook/iPad User’s Take on the Toshiba Chromebook 2

This post about the Toshiba Chromebook 2 has been a long time coming. It isn’t because I don’t like the machine. I do. Rather, it has taken time because I tried to see how it might fit into my workflow. I’ve come away from the experience impressed by what Google and Toshiba have done. Still, I need to come clean…

…and admit that I’m typing this on my iPad.

GearDiary A MacBook/iPad User's Take on the Toshiba Chromebook 2

Let’s first take a look at the Chromebook itself, and then I’ll address why I’m not using it — but can still whole heartedly recommend it.

I was one of the people who first got caught up in the UMPC craze and then, a short time later and with some overlap, the Netbook fad. By the time the Chromebook came out, I was already centered on my MacBook as the core of my workflow. At the time, I was already Senior Editor of Gear Diary in addition to my potentially 24/7 role as a congregational rabbi. Anything that slowed down my ability to work quickly wasn’t of interest except from the perspective of hobby. I seriously could not even begin to consider trying to “live in the browser” with a Chromebook, and I didn’t have to since Mike Anderson and Carly Z were already doing just that.

This past summer however, I traveled with a group in Israel. As I’ve mentioned previously it was during the war and the Iron Dome anti-missile system literally saved my and my colleagues’ lives. Two of my friends were using Chromebooks, and they seemed to get a tremendous amount of work done on them. When the opportunity to review the Toshiba Chromebook 2 came along I jumped. Here was a Chromebook with a premium screen, nice specs, and a shockingly low price.

In case you have been living under a rock…

What is a Chromebook?

A Chromebook is a new type of computer designed to help you get things done faster and easier. Powered by Google’s Chrome OS™, and featuring familiar Google apps and services like Gmail™, Calendar, Docs and Play (plus thousand more in the Chrome Web Store™)—Chromebooks deliver many of the same capabilities of a traditional PC. Unlike traditional PCs though, Chromebook updates itself, for free, so you always have the latest and greatest version, plus your stuff stays safe with built-in virus protection and safe Google Drive™ online file storage that’s automatically backed up. And Chromebook plays nicely with your other devices—your phone, tablet or another computer—so you can stay in sync with your day from wherever you are.

GearDiary A MacBook/iPad User's Take on the Toshiba Chromebook 2

The Toshiba Chromebook 2 has:
  • Intel Celeron Processor N2840
  • Chrome OS
  • 4GB DDR3L 1600MHz (Memory is not user replaceable)
  • 16GB solid state flash memory (eMMC) + optional 100GB Google Drive included (free for 2 years)
  • Intel Integrated Graphics
  • Runs up to 9 hours per charge

The appearance of the Toshiba Chromebook 2 is a bit deceiving. from a distance or if you take a super-fast glance you might think it is something from Apple’s lineup. Close examination reveals that it is plastic- albeit nice quality and thick plastic. This shouldn’t surprise anyone, since the Chromebook 2 has a starting price of just $249.99 for the version with a Standard HD screen. The model I received has a starting price of $329.99 and has a gorgeous Full HD screen.

GearDiary A MacBook/iPad User's Take on the Toshiba Chromebook 2

The device feels solid and sends the message that it is ready for serious, real world work. The keyboard is fantastic, and I found myself able to type quickly within a few minutes of first turning it on. The trackpad is fine and gets the job done but, even after tweaking the speed settings I found it to be just “fine.”

GearDiary A MacBook/iPad User's Take on the Toshiba Chromebook 2

 

The star of this show is the screen. The 13.3″ diagonal, full HD (1080p) IPS display is gorgeous. With it you can,

Take in more of the web, comfortably work through your sheets, slides and docs, edit your latest home-movie masterpiece or just kick back and relax with your favorite TV shows and movies—all on a brilliant display that delivers the big picture in true-to-life detail. Or stream movies to your Chromecast enabled big-screen TV for larger-than-live entertainment.

This is no small thing. In fact, the reason I do not currently have a MacBook Air is the display. After using a MacBook Pro with Retina Display and an iPad Air 2 with its gorgeous display, there is no way I can satisfactorily use one with a resolution of 1440 X 900. For comparison, my Chromebook 2 has a resolution of 1920 X 1080.

And there’s more to the Chromebook 2. When designing it Toshiba turned to Skullcandy. The partnership resulted in ChromeBook audio that is decent. They rave about it on the product page, but I can’t offer up more than to say it will get the job done, but if you care about your music don’t depend on a Chromebook. To add to the audio-attraction of the Toshiba Chromebook 2, Toshiba also includes a complimentary 60-day unlimited music pass with the purchase.

Rounding out the features of the Toshiba Chromebook 2 is the dual-antenna 802.11ac Wi-Fi, Bluetooth wireless connectivity, dual-array microphones, and HD webcam.

Yes, this Chromebook may be inexpensive, but it is serious business.

GearDiary A MacBook/iPad User's Take on the Toshiba Chromebook 2

I love typing on the Toshiba Chromebook 2. I love the screen of the Toshiba Chromebook 2. I can deal with the trackpad of the Toshiba Chromebook 2. I can’t stop being amazed by the price of the Toshiba Chromebook 2.

Why then am I writing this on my iPad Air 2 using the ZAGGkeys SlimBook? Honestly it all comes down to personal preference. I’ve got a good workflow with the iPad that relies more on apps than the browser. I am steeped in Google’s ecosystem, but I am more reliant on Apple’s. I like being able to flip through app screens, and I adore having a touchscreen. And I love the lightning fast LTE. Honestly, I now find myself using the iPad far more than I do my $2300 MacBook Pro.

Thing is, my iPad was close to $1000. Add in the keyboard case and you are at $1100. Compared to the Toshiba Chromebook 2 at under $350 and you aren’t really comparing apples to apples.

GearDiary A MacBook/iPad User's Take on the Toshiba Chromebook 2

If you live in the browser, want something that will let you do serious work for up to 9 hours on a charge, are looking for something with a beautiful screen and decent enough sound AND you don’t want to spend a fortune, then you owe it to yourself to check the Toshiba Chromebook 2 out. It is impressive and inexpensive, but it is anything but cheap. Learn more here.

Source: Manufacturer supplied review sample

What I Like: Great screen; Great keyboard; Decent trackpad; Decent sound; Good battery life; Amazing price

What Needs Improvement: As good as this is, especially for the price, I still can’t see someone using it instead of a laptop unless they ONLY use Google apps


About the Author

Dan Cohen
Having a father who was heavily involved in early laser and fiber-optical research, Dan grew up surrounded by technology and gadgets. Dan’s father brought home one of the very first video games when he was young and Dan remembers seeing a “pre-release” touchtone phone. (When he asked his father what the “#” and “*” buttons were his dad said, “Some day, far in the future, we’ll have some use for them.”) Technology seemed to be in Dan’s blood but at some point he took a different path and ended up in the clergy. His passion for technology and gadgets never left him. Dan is married to Raina Goldberg who is also an avid user of Apple products. They live in New Jersey with their golden doodle Nava.