What, another Chromebook!
Oddly, yes. While the C720 was a nice little machine, especially for $179, it is going to a family member that needs a computer — so instead I preordered the latest Toshiba Chromebook 2 from Amazon, and I lucked out into the first shipment out, so I received it last week.
Okay, in brief, my impressions:
The build is good. Keyboard is about as good as the C720, and I can proceed full speed. The trackpad is actually a bit better — larger than the C720 and with a better texture, so it’s more usable, with about equivalent sensitivity. The machine is fairly slim and light. The machine is fanless so it never makes a sound, and even under load doesn’t seem to heat up more than “slightly warm.” In a nice touch, an SD card sits flush with the case, instead of jutting out half an inch like on the C720, so it’s much more convenient to have an SD card in the machine all the time for extra storage.
The outside is made of silver textured plastic that resists day-to-day wear pretty well. On the left side are power, USB, and the SD card slot; on the right are lock, HDMI, USB 3.0, and headphones / microphone.
The screen is truly a thing of beauty. It’s 1920x1080 and IPS, with great brightness and good contrast and good viewing angles. It comes close in quality to the Mac Retina Pro screen — really, it’s that good.
The speakers are surprisingly good for such a little device — they provide a deep and rich sound (well, deep and rich for a laptop, but still). This isn’t a big deal for me, since if sound is important I usually have headphones on anyway, but it’s a nice unexpected bonus.
The battery life is fine. I’ve taken it through a few recharge cycles now, and it looks like I’m getting about 8 hours to a charge. That’s with brightness at about 50%, doing mostly web browsing with intermittent video playing.
The processor is, sadly, significantly slower than the Haswell in the C720. So, it’s not a speed demon. That said, I was able to have 20 tabs open, with Ubuntu / Crouton running on another screen, and I was able to work without problems. I did notice skipping in Spotify when I was doing disk intensive stuff as well (i.e., installing a new package in Linux), but I wasn’t able to consistently reproduce it.
So, for $329 you’re getting a nicely built, quiet machine with a gorgeous screen and surprisingly good sound, but you’re paying a bit of performance for the battery life and fanless operation. Still, this machine is an amazing deal for the price, and I use it all the time for browsing the web or lending to a guest that needs to borrow a computer.
Edit 2015-02-08: Crouton can be found here, which is the easiest way I’ve seen to get a working Ubuntu onto the Chromebook.
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