Toshiba Chromebook review

A speedy Chromebook with a big screen, but patchy build quality and underwhelming ergonomics see it drop behind the best

Stuart Andrews
27 Aug 2014
3
Price when reviewed 
229

It seems like almost every major manufacturer has taken a stab at perfecting the Chromebook formula, but now it's the turn of Toshiba. Injecting a 13.3in laptop with Chrome OS and a Haswell-based Celeron processor, Toshiba's Chromebook looks likes it just might have what it takes.

Toshiba Chromebook review: ergonomics and design

Like the last-generation Samsung Chromebook, the Toshiba Chromebook mimics the look of Apple’s MacBook Air. It does have a little personality of its own, however, expressed through a shiny silver textured finish on the lid and base. Naturally you don’t get a unibody aluminium casing at this price – chunky-feeling plastic is the order of the day – but the overall build quality isn’t bad, and it’s light, pleasingly so, at 1.5kg. The biggest concern is the amount of flex in that larger 13.3in screen.

Ergonomics aren’t a strong point: on the desk or a lap, the Toshiba Chromebook feels slightly off balance. With its large keys and spacious layout, the layout looks initially promising, but it’s let down by a key action that’s spongy and none too crisp, and an assembly that seems to bounce in the middle as you type.

The touchpad is a little better. It’s large with a textured surface, but it’s not perfectly responsive: the two-fingered tapping gesture didn’t consistently bring us the usual context-sensitive right-click menu, and we found scrolling also rather hit-and-miss.

Toshiba Chromebook

Toshiba Chromebook review: screen and connectivity

The Toshiba’s 13.3in screen is a comfortable size for working on documents and presentations, but don’t be deceived: its 1,366 x 768 resolution gives you no more actual workspace than the 11.6in displays found on more compact models, so it isn’t much help if you want to put two windows side by side. Colours seem rather lacklustre too, and although a maximum brightness of 254cd/m2 is pretty good by Chromebook standards, the reflective surface makes it tricky to work in sunlight or bright lighting. Sound is also a mixed bag: there’s some volume on offer here, but the tone is muddy and the mid-range heavy.

The Toshiba Chromebook isn’t without its strengths. With two USB 3 ports, an HDMI output, an SD slot and a headphone/microphone socket, the Toshiba is well connected, and there’s 802.11n Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4 for the web connection and any wireless peripherals.

Toshiba Chromebook review: performance and battery

Performance is fine, too: like most Chromebooks based on the Celeron 2955U processor, the Toshiba did a good job of keeping multiple tabs and apps running at a decent lick in everyday use. It acquitted itself well in our range of benchmarks, too. It rattled through the Sunspider browser benchmark in a nippy 395ms, and racked up a score of 2823 in the Peacekeeper HTML5 tests.

The Intel HD Graphics core also put in a solid performance. We test the graphical performance of Chromebooks with AlteredQualia's WebGL Cubes browser-based test, and the Toshiba achieved an average framerate of 28fps - that's almost three times the framerate of Chromebooks equipped with ARM processors, such as the HP Chromebook 11.

Toshiba Chromebook

Battery life isn't half bad, either. Although the Toshiba isn't the longest lasting Chromebook we've encountered, a total of 7hrs 2mins of uninterrupted HD video looping indicates there’s enough stamina here to get you through a regular working day.

Toshiba Chromebook review: verdict

In all, Toshiba’s Chromebook offers a persuasive internal specification, and is significantly cheaper than the Samsung Chromebook 2. The screen isn’t as generous as it may appear, though, and the ergonomics aren’t great. If you’re looking for a 13.3in Chromebook, and performance isn’t a top priority, we still reckon it’s worth paying the extra for the Samsung.

Price when reviewed 
229(£191 exc VAT)

Warranty

Warranty 1 yr return to base

Physical specifications

Dimensions 329 x 227 x 20mm (WDH)
Weight 1.500kg

Processor and memory

Processor Intel Celeron 2955U
RAM capacity 2.00GB
Memory type DDR3

Screen and video

Screen size 13.3in
Resolution screen horizontal 1,366
Resolution screen vertical 768
Resolution 1366 x 768
Graphics chipset Intel HD Graphics
HDMI outputs 1

Drives

Capacity 16GB
Replacement battery price inc VAT £0

Networking

802.11 draft-n support yes
Bluetooth support yes

Other Features

SD card reader yes

Battery and performance tests

Battery life, light use 7hr 2min

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