Toshiba Chromebook 2 (2015) Review Editor's Choice

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Editors' rating:
The Pros

Brilliant, vibrant display; Epic battery life; Excellent keyboard; Affordable price

The Cons

Sound-quality in mids and lows is lacking

Verdict

The Toshiba Chromebook 2 CB35 puts a bright, highly accurate display and stellar battery life in a sharp, silver form that makes it the Chromebook to beat.

With the proliferation of powerful apps available online (office suites, music apps and email clients to name a few) the Chrome OS platform is becoming robust enough for customers to take Chromebooks seriously. Toshiba has armed the Chromebook 2 CB35 ($330) notebook with a 13.3-inch full-HD display, an Intel Celeron 3215U processor and 4GB of RAM. While those features are on a par with the average Chromebook, the CB35's lengthy battery life and brilliant, accurate screen make it stand out from the competition.

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Design

Similar in form to the 2014 Toshiba Chromebook 2, the CB35 has a dimpled texture on its plastic shell and smooth edges that make it easy to pick up and hold. The only visible difference compared to last year's model is the CB35's darker, Ice Silver color (last year's had a whiter lid).


The CB35's smooth, silver deck may be plastic, but light bounces off of it in the way you would see on a much more expensive laptop.

Measuring 12.6 x 8.4 x 0.76 inches, the CB35 is thicker than the Acer Chromebook 13 (12.87 x 8.96 x 0.71 inches) and the Samsung Chromebook 2 (12.72 x 8.80 x 0.65 inches). But while those laptops are slightly thinner, the CB35 weighs 2.97 pounds, making it lighter than the Acer (3.31 pounds) and the Samsung (3 pounds), though just barely.

Keyboard and Touchpad

Toshiba has given its Chromebook the kind of keyboard we hope to find on most laptops. Its keys have 1.53mm of travel, and require 54 grams of force to actuate. Taking the 10FastFingers typing test, I was able to click up a storm of 68 words per minute with flawless 100 percent accuracy.


This laptop's touchpad performed equally well, with speed and responsiveness. When clicking down, the pad felt reliable and well-made.

Display

The CB35 comes with a full-HD (1920 x 1080) IPS display that is one of the two standout features of the device. When I watched the 1080p trailer for Tom Hardy's upcoming film Revenant, the display showed an incredible amount of detail, from the hairs on a sweater-vest to Hardy's practically poreless skin.

Far and away the brightest Chromebook we've seen, Toshiba's notebook delivered an average brightness of 378 nits. The Acer Chromebook 13 (222 nits) and Samsung Chromebook 2 (214 nits) are relatively dim in comparison.

Not only is the display impressively bright, but the CB35's screen was also able to render a wide range of colors, displaying 109.8 percent of the sRBG gamut. That's much wider than the displays of both the Acer (58.1 percent) and the Samsung (57.4 percent).

The CB35 is also highly accurate, scoring 0.87 in the Delta-E test (where lower scores are better), which is far better than the average display on a thin and light notebook (3.62).

MORE: Best Toshiba Laptops

The only criticism I have is its limited viewing angles. Though its display renders images beautifully when viewed straight ahead, the colors degraded when I rotated the system 45 degrees to the left or right.

Audio

With stereo speakers that Toshiba says are "tuned by Skullcandy," the CB35's speakers have enough volume to fill up a room. Its speakers handled highs well on everything from the guitars on Van Halen's "Hot for Teacher" to Young Thug's verses on Jamie xx's "I Know There's Gonna Be (Good Times)." Unfortunately, the low end was muddied on songs like Jay Z and Kanye West's "No Church in the Wild."

Ports and Webcam

On the left side of the Chromebook 2, you'll find the port for the proprietary power connector, a USB 2.0 port and a memory card port that supports SDHC, SDXC (up to 2TB), Mini SD and Micro cards. On the right side, you'll find the headphone/mic, a USB 3.0 port, an HDMI port and the security lock slot.


The CB35's HD webcam takes colorful, yet highly noisy photos. Even though it doesn't capture much in the way of detail, it's on a par with most notebook webcams.

Heat

For the most part, you won't feel the burn while using the CB35. After 15 minutes of streaming HD video, the notebook's touchpad (80 degrees) and the area between its G & H keys (86 degrees) both stayed under the 95-degree-Fahrenheit threshold we consider comfortable. The CB35's underside, though, broke that limit, heating up to 97 degrees.

Performance

Powered by a 1.7-GHz Intel Celeron 3215U processor with 4GB of RAM, the CB35 is swifter than you'd expect a Chromebook to be. I was able to smoothly jump among a dozen tabs -- including simultaneous streams from Spotify and YouTube, as well as TweetDeck and a Google Doc -- with Cut the Rope running in the background.

The CB35 took 324.9 milliseconds to complete the Sunspider JavaScript test, a much faster time than either Acer (625.5 ms) or Samsung (563.4 ms) delivered.

Chrome OS

Google's Chrome OS is the lightweight, minimal alternative to OS X and Windows. After logging into the CB35 with your Google account, you're greeted with a desktop background of an idyllic seaside sunset and relatively few icons in the lower corners of the screen.


On the left side, there's a magnifying glass icon to open search (on both the CB35 and Google), and app icons for Chrome, Picasa and Gmail. Clicking on the magnifying glass will bring up your most commonly used apps and show you that Google Now cards are on deck.
The latest version of Chrome OS includes voice control, so if you have a Chrome tab or the launcher open, you can say, "OK, Google," to bring up the voice assistant.


In the other corner, you have a notification counter, the time, an up-arrow icon that calls a menu of settings, and indicators for volume, Wi-Fi connectivity, battery life, keyboard layout and your user avatar.

Apps

Once you log into the Chromebook using your Google account, the CB35 will automatically load whatever apps you have previously used. In my case, that consisted of Google's own productivity and Play apps, the hit games Bejeweled and Plants vs. Zombies and standards such as Word Online, Netflix and Spotify.


In the Chrome Web Store, you'll find tens of thousands of apps. There are photo-editing apps in the Picture Perfect section, apps and games brought over from Android and, dozens of games for when you're without an Internet connection in the "No Wi-Fi? No problem" section. Other categories in the Chrome Web Store include Business Tools, Social and Communication, Lifestyle, Productivity, and Education.

MORE: Laptop Finder - Get Personalized Recommendations

Poking around, I found some of the apps I use every day, like Feedly, a popular RSS feed reader that users have turned to in the years since Google Reader was put out to pasture. TweetDeck, the power-user client for Twitter, is also in the store.

Avid Google Docs users will find the ability to save documents for offline particularly important if they're ever without connectivity. But you'll need to make sure that setting is enabled in Google Drive in advance. Some, but not all of the apps in the Chrome Web Store have similar offline capabilities.


Unfortunately, the store still has some catching up to do if its goals include parity with Windows and OS X. As you might have noticed, the games I've mentioned are all a little old. Hits like Crossy Road are not here, and neither is the Steam gaming platform. You won't find apps from Facebook, Instagram or Snapchat, either.

Battery Life

Toshiba's being modest when it claims that the CB35's 3-cell 45-watt-hour battery should last up to 8 hours and 30 minutes.

On the Laptop Mag Battery Test (Web surfing via Wi-Fi at 100 nits), this Chromebook lasted 10 hours and 5 minutes. That's longer than the Samsung (9:34), the Acer 8:08 and the category average (7:36).

MORE: Laptops with the Longest Battery Life

Bottom Line

Those looking for a 13-inch notebook built to surf the Web and take advantage of Google's apps should definitely consider the Toshiba Chromebook 2 CB35 ($330). Compared to other Chromebooks, its display is brighter and more accurate, and its battery lasts longer by a significant margin. Google Docs aficionados will also see this as a great deal, thanks to this notebook's quality keyboard. The Acer Chromebook 13 ($229) may be more affordable, but the Toshiba is much more well-rounded, and more than worth the premium.

Ask a Question
CPU 1.70 GHz Intel Celeron 3215U
Operating System Google Chrome
RAM 4GB
RAM Upgradable to
Hard Drive Size 16GB SSD
Hard Drive Speed
Hard Drive Type
Secondary Hard Drive Size
Secondary Hard Drive Speed
Secondary Hard Drive Type
Display Size 13.3
Native Resolution 1920x1080
Optical Drive
Optical Drive Speed
Graphics Card Integrated Intel HD Graphics
Video Memory
Wi-Fi 802.11ac
Wi-Fi Model Intel Dual-Band Wireless-AC 7260
Bluetooth Bluetooth 4.0
Mobile Broadband
Touchpad Size 2.75 x 4 inches
Ports (excluding USB) HDMI
Ports (excluding USB) security lock slot
Ports (excluding USB) USB 2.0
Ports (excluding USB) USB 3.0
USB Ports 2
Card Slots SD/SDHC Card reader
Warranty/Support 1-year limited parts, labor and pickup/return service.
Size 8.4 x 12.6 x 0.76 inches
Weight 2.97 pounds
Company Website Toshiba.com
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30 comments
  • Derek Bloomer Says:

    My current PC is a Dell Medion Pc MT6,OS XP SP3. I use it for e-mails, On-Line banking, downloading mobile photos and driving an HP psc 2175 printer. What do you recommend as a reasonable priced laptop replacement with a keyboard!

  • JBBuser Says:

    HORRIBLE computer. We bought two of them (our mistake) at once, one for each student. On the first machine, the screws at the bottom of the unit started falling out after a couple of months use. On the second machine, the display became corrupted after about 9 months; Toshiba refuses to replace it claiming "customer-induced damage." We now see that the screen and the screw problems are ALL OVER THE INTERNET, so either everyone is abusing their Toshibas, or the device is not manufactured to high enough standards to withstand NORMAL student usage. It doesn't matter how light, beautiful, or fast this machine is if it DOESN'T last.

  • Lee Teyler Says:

    Son,
    What do think you might pickup one of these PC's Toshiba ChromBook 2 CB35 for? If you can get one and have it at your place in FL when we get there in a couple of weeks, I'll reimburse you.
    They had problems with some of their older releases, and rebuilds may be using them on resale. The sound system is just "fair to okay", but they'll all have their pluses and minuses.
    Do you have any remarks - pro's or con's?
    Also, they may have units with 2 GB RAM and 4 GB RAM, if so get the 4 GB unit.
    LovU,
    -Dad

  • abera gatiso Says:

    is it offered in sudan? & how i can find it

  • kin kao Says:

    Linux's too shy to collect missing hardware drivers from the manufacturers, so your laptop simply may melt down, because of madly spinning cpu fan.

  • Don Graham Says:

    I've an original Samsung chromebook that is showing its age. At 72, so am I. Battery life and connectivity are becoming of concern as this one seems to be slowing down a bit. Available at Best Buy for $220 this seems remarkable.

  • RenzO Says:

    Is this good for Computer Programming student?

  • Marcus Says:

    Had my Toshiba Chromebook 2 since the day it was released (the newer more powerful edition). Fortunately I done all my research before buying (unlike most of the people giving negative comments) and was also reminded by the John Lewis IT sales person what a chromebook can and cannot do.

    I bought it for casual browsing when at home as well as watching films and working on the odd document.

    I am currently a computer science student and installed Ubuntu 16.04 OS in order for me to do some web development and MySQL Database course work and still up to this day it works perfectly.

    Thinking of buying a new one in order to completely wipe Chrome OS and to just run Linux

  • Nicholas Says:

    I would not by another Chromebook at 90% off. The lack of information on sellers websites about the significant incompatibility issues is unbelievable, it is about as useful as my iPad. I utilize the computer I was looking to replace more than the Chromebook. Great $300 investment if you have a dependable laptop and you want one that will freeze on you on just about a daily basis. I purchased my Chromebook 4 months ago and it is basically worthless. Would not recommend to anyone.

  • George Says:

    Does it come with anti-glare/matte screen or only with glaring/reflective screen?

  • Tim Cox Says:

    Does it come with any 'built-in' software to write text, like Notepad or Wordpad?

  • Mick5 Says:

    Is this really good Chromebook?

  • Ron Abate Says:

    This Chromebook is an exceptional buy! High reliability, no viruses, long battery life, tons of free apps.

  • sarah suba Says:

    Would this be good for a college student? WasWas thinking of getting the samsung chromebook. But with the backlit keys on the Toshiba I might want to change my mind.

  • John Gilbert Says:

    If you're an actual online student, make sure you know all the software requirements of your classes before you commit to this notebook. Lots of online classes use remote proctoring services that aren't supported on Chrome OS.

    I'm happy with the Toshiba Chromebook, but I have to borrow a computer that runs Windows or iOS every time I need to take a final that requires a proctoring service.

    I'm disappointed the review on this site didn't mention possible software issues like this, since this review was a big factor in deciding to use a chromebook for my online classes.

    Live and learn, I guess.

  • Diana Cruze Says:

    I need an inexpensive laptop. Can I use a wireless printer on Toshiba?

  • Albert Teyler Says:

    Need to look at improvement offers: 1. 32gb, 64gb maybe 128gb ssd 2. 6gb and 8gb RAM 3. better sound

  • Cheryl Metro Says:

    I wanna get my Husband a gaming computer for RPG or online gaming.....his laptop is always lagging up so i wanna suprise him and get him new one...but wanna make sure i get the right one lol

  • Gary fuller Says:

    What about the backlit keyboard?

  • gogoco Says:

    the games are awsome and is cool but where is the printing

  • Carol Ann Says:

    My toshiba google book froze. It wont shut off. Keys dont work and nothing helps.

  • Roshell Says:

    This laptop is not a good pick for me. Most of 5 he features seem ancient. Call +V for copying docs. I can'tell print cause my prunter iso not Cloud compatible. Screen very small, have to keep adjusting resolution. I very sad, no return address and I didn't even get a proper receipt. There no amount on the invoice! HELP!!!! please let me exchange for better laptop!! TOSHIBA I THOUGHT YOU WERE BETTER THAN THIS!!

  • AndyL. Says:

    The photos suggest that this model Chromebook has a backlit keyboard. I can't find that it does. What I can find is two other Toshiba Chromebooks with backlit keyboards at a higher price. Am I correct?

  • Ahmet Sencan Says:

    Can I connect my Chromebook to a mini satellite receiver through HDMI connection and use as a tv receiver?

  • GERSHOM Taub Says:

    That is, how do I print from this chrome book?

  • Gershom Taub Says:

    I print from the Toshiba 2 chrome book

  • Varuschkaxox Says:

    The "up-arrow icon" in the bottom right bar does not "call a menu of settings". Clicking anywhere on the bar brings up the same menu. The "up-arrow icon" is there to tell you an update to Chrome OS is available, as evidenced by the same icon next to the words "Restart to update" in the menu.

  • Ganiyu hammed Says:

    Please find me laptop with good battery,speed internet, ram,storage, good mp and strong. I have 300$

  • Glen Gooma Says:

    Plse advise if the chromebook 2 can interface to an ethernet internet connection with a USB adaptor. Also would it still be necessary to install virus security s/w & will it support Chromecast?

  • sbs5130 Says:

    "...on a par with the average Chromebook" haha. Nothing else under $400 and 15 inch screen has a 1080p IPS display, 4+ GB RAM, and Haswell/Broadwell processor. A lot of smart people have been waiting for this exact combo of specs.

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