In a few (very small) ways, the Toshiba Chromebook is the first of its kind. This is the first 13.3-inch variety of Google's laptop, not to mention the first Chrome OS notebook to come from Toshiba. It's also the first with two USB 3.0 ports – this early in the game, Toshiba should take any firsts it can get.
Sure, this wouldn't be the most attractive machine if it were a Windows laptop, but its build stands out among its bland brethren. And besides, that isn't what you come to a Chromebook for. It's the dirt cheap price, frankly. For me, it's also the no-nonsense experience of it all.
Google understands that the majority of the time spent on computers is with internet-based apps and services. The company has done a great job of instilling that philosophy in its partners, and Toshiba is no exception. Actually, this may be the best budget laptop I've ever tested from the Japanese firm.
Surprisingly, the build quality on display here is impressive, managing a sturdy build in a plastic frame with even a bit of style. So the lid is a tad wobbly with its two plastic hinges, but what do you want for under $300? Besides, the keyboard and clickpad didn't disappoint – something that's common in the budget space.
While this Chromebook's battery life misses Toshiba's mark, I'm still quite impressed. Even for such a low-power system, 6 to 7 hours of endurance is longer than most Windows laptops can claim. Another plus is how quickly this Chromebook charges, meaning less time tethered to an outlet overall.
As far as software goes, Chrome OS has an answer for almost all of your everyday apps and services. The Chrome Store is slowly growing to meet needs beyond that of the general user.
So, what's missing? On the software side, an FTP client would be nice, especially in my line of work. How do you think these pictures and screenshots got here?
Moving to hardware, I wouldn't expect much more from the screen that sits on a sub-$300 laptop, but a little color correction could go a long way. Couple that with a somewhat dim maximum brightness and narrow viewing angles, and there are few issues for Toshiba to touch up here next time.
This Chromebook wasn't too hard to stress out, either. My everyday workload seemed to be too much for this machine, given its dependence on the Chrome browser in lieu of dedicated apps. That said, my experience might be different from most. If you only browse with, say, no more than 10 tabs open at a time, then you're in good shape.
The 13-inch MacBook Air Toshiba's Chromebook is most certainly not. This laptop isn't super stylish, nor is it the portable powerhouse you're looking for. But what Toshiba managed to accomplish in style and build for under $300 is undoubtedly impressive.
If you're a media nut or one who often beats up their browser, this Chromebook (or probably any, for that matter) is not for you. In either case, I'd suggest going for a budget machine packing an Intel Core i5 chip (Haswell).
The Toshiba Chromebook is what I like to call the perfect Baby Boomer laptop, not to mention the mileage students would get out of this machine. Looking for an incredibly affordable mobile computer that does, well, what you do most on the computer? This Chromebook is a wise choice.