We've seen Chromebooks from several companies in recent months, but now Toshiba is hopping onto the shiny Chrome bandwagon with its very own Toshiba Chromebook.
Selling for £249 ($279 in the US) and coming to stores early this year, the new Chromebook isn't distinguished with any model number or fancy name, but the Toshiba Chromebook should stand out nonetheless as the only 13in Chromebook currently announced.
Toshiba has been a player in the value laptop category for some time, yet the design of its new Chromebook isn't simply a recycled version of a previous model. Though the construction is largely inexpensive plastic, the Toshiba Chromebook still looks pretty slick, with a portable design that measures only 20mm thick and weighs roughly 1.4kg.
Toshiba's Chromebook is aimed at the hither-to-unfilled 13in space for laptops running Google's lightweight, cloud-friendly operating system. It boasts a 13.3in display with a basic 1,366 x 768 resolution. There's no touch functionality or ultra-high resolution here, but that’s not surprising given the pricing of this notebook.
The keyboard features the unique Chrome layout, with several Chrome function keys along the top – the Caps Lock key is replaced by a search key and the familiar Windows key is nowhere to be found. The full-size keys have a matte finish with rounded corners. The chiclet style keyboard is a bit of a departure for Toshiba, given that many of its laptops in the lower price ranges use adjacent keys with little to no separation between them. This design is clearly influenced by other Chromebooks, seeing as it is virtually identical to that of the Acer C710 models and Samsung's Series 7.
The lid of this laptop features a subtle texture, a stippled pattern that provides some visual distinction from other inexpensive Chromebooks. The body of the laptop and the trackpad both feature Toshiba's distinctive U-shape with rounded top corners, in keeping with its current design motif across the brand.
Inside the Toshiba Chromebook is an Intel Celeron 2955U processor, part of Intel's Haswell line, which features improved performance and enhanced energy efficiency. While this processor wouldn't cut it in a Windows machine, where all of the processing resources reside in the user's laptop, Google's web-centric operating system only requires hardware that will allow decent web browsing, opting to use apps and extensions that shift the bulk of processing to the cloud.
Similarly, Google Drive provides plenty of storage space, with 100GB of free cloud storage bundled with the purchase of Toshiba's Chromebook. That means there's not much use for local storage and this 13in model has just 16GB of solid-state memory with the rest going to the cloud. This hardware setup isn't unusual, as it is virtually identical to that of other Chromebooks.
Despite the low-powered hardware, there's still a full selection of ports and connections on the Chromebook. The 13in laptop boasts two USB 3.0 ports, an SD card reader (which supports SDHC and SDXC formats as well), and a full-size HDMI out port. The Chromebook features 802.11n Wi-Fi, with no current plans for mobile broadband connectivity. A Kensington lock slot lets you physically secure the device, making it well suited to use in public or educational environments. Toshiba reports up to nine hours of battery life in normal use, with even longer life in standby mode.
While I can't speak for the actual performance of the Toshiba Chromebook without first testing the system, I’m certainly looking forward to getting this 13in laptop in for review. Even with variations from one model to the next, Chrome provides a consistent experience across devices, and the 13in design will be a welcome addition to the budget-friendly collection.