Chromebook Chronicles – A Hardware Update

It’s been more than 6 months since I got the original Toshiba Chromebook and time for an update on things. This is almost the perfect Chromebook, save for one thing. The build quality and overall construction has been great, especially for such an inexpensive laptop. Speed has also been very good, largely due to the Intel processor inside. I would seriously only recommend Intel based Chromebooks as they nearly always out benchmark other Chromebooks. The keyboard is a pleasure to type on and my only desire would be for a backlighting, which cannot be found on any Chromebook to date. Size and weight are also just fine, even though it’s not the lightest or slimmest Chromebook. I am also very happy I chose the 13″ screen over the more common 11″ as it feels like a regular laptop and not a Netbook.

So what’s the rub? While the screen size is great, the quality leaves a lot to be desired. I wouldn’t say the screen is horrible or unusable, but it is quite washed out and lacking in contrast. It’s soft, you could say. The problem I am having with this is when you use the machine for more than an hour, it starts to get more annoying. Changing the brightness does not help and the screen is plenty bright. It’s the sharpness that is missing.

Fortunately, a savior has been born. Toshiba has recently released the Toshiba Chromebook 2 with an all new 1080p IPS screen. This is the kind of screen usually found in more traditional and expensive laptops and it makes a huge difference in quality. Reviewers are all saying this is the best Chromebook screen available. I saw it myself in a Best Buy for a short time, and there is a big noticeable improvement. This new Chromebook is also a bit thinner and quite a bit lighter than the original Toshiba Chromebook. It is now, I believe, the perfect Chromebook. One thing to note, Toshiba did change the processor to a new Intel chip called Bay Trail. This new processor is lower power than the chip in the original Toshiba Chromebook which allows them to have no fans in the new model, however, the trade off is, the new chip is a little slower. Fortunately, the difference in performance is not terribly noticeable, especially since the new Chromebook adds an additional 2GB of memory for a total of 4GB. Having more ram does make a difference in Chromebooks.

These new improvements do come at a price as the new Toshiba Chromebook with the IPS screen runs around $329. Still, that’s a bargain compared to a traditional laptop with a comparable screen. There is a lower priced version that runs about $80 less, but it does not have the higher resolution or IPS screen. I am not sure if that screen is the same as the original Chromebook or is a bit improved itself. It does seem like it is well worth the extra $80 for the outstanding new screen and 4GB of ram.