It hasn't been all that long since Toshiba's first Chromebook hit the market, but the company is already back for round two. Toshiba's new Chromebook 2 doesn't look all that different from its predecessor at first glance, but the company says that it has implemented a number of changes based on customer feedback on the first model. Perhaps most immediately obvious is you can get the machine with a 1080p screen, up from the 1366 x 768 display found in Toshiba's first Chromebook. While ChromeOS isn't exactly optimized for such a resolution, plenty of people will probably prefer to live with the small icons and text in exchange for more real estate than you can find in nearly every other Chromebook on the market.
Of course, Samsung's own Chromebook 2 also features a 1080p display, but we found that panel lacking in a lot of ways. We only had a few minutes to check out Toshiba's display, but it seems to be a pretty solid option — viewing angles were good and colors were vibrant. We'll need to put it through a more thorough review first, but it seems that Toshiba's new model might be the superior option if you're interested in a high-resolution Chromebook.
Toshiba seems to be aiming squarely for Samsung's Chromebooks
The next biggest change to Toshiba's new model is a set of thoughtful design improvements: the Chromebook 2 weighs just under three pounds and is a bit smaller and less chunky than its predecessor. It still sports the same "silver plastic MacBook Air aesthetic," and the keyboard and trackpad are both fine without being standouts. It's not the most attractive Chromebook we've seen, but it's certainly not offensive and feels solidly put together.
As for its internals, the Chromebook 2 includes an Intel Celeron processor that runs fanless, which means it certainly won't be as powerful as the Acer C720p, our current pick for best Chromebook on the market (not to mention the Intel i3 Chromebooks that are starting to hit the market). On the plus side, battery life is rated at nine hours, and the fanless design means it'll be a lot quieter than many other Chromebooks — it just might not get things done as fast as those other options. Toshiba's kept the internal storage (16GB plus 100GB of Google Drive space) and RAM (4GB) the same as the previous model.
The last big change is in the Chromebook 2's audio system: it's a Skullcandy-branded laptop, which doesn't mean a whole lot on the surface. However, regardless of the branding, there's no doubt that the Chromebook 2 delivers audio better than most other laptops in its price range. Rather than the downward-facing speakers found on the older computer, audio now comes out from beneath the keyboard. It sounds quite a bit fuller than the previous model, with noticeable bass being a particular improvement.
Toshiba won't be making people wait too long to try the new machines, either: the Chromebook 2 will be available as of October 5th in two different SKUs. The 1080p model with 4GB of RAM will retail for $329 — quite a bit less than Samsung's comparable Chromebook 2, which is priced at $399. There's also a lower-end SKU that keeps the original 1366 x 768 screen and only comes with 2GB of RAM; it'll be priced at $249.