Toshiba’s Chromebook CB30 doesn’t stray too far from the usual Chromebook design, but its size and price do just enough to make it stand out from the crowd.
As with other Chromebooks, what you’re talking about with the Toshiba Chromebook CB30 is a laptop running Google’s Chrome browser.
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Yep, just Google’s Chrome browser. If you wanted to try the Chrome OS experience before you buy, the simplest way to do so would be to load up Google’s free Chrome browser on your Windows, Mac or Linux box, and then stay within the browser entirely. It’s a testament to the quality of the online productivity experience that this works at all, and it does give a Chrome OS laptop some particular advantages and disadvantages.
In Toshiba’s case, they’ve matched up an Intel Celeron processor N2955U Dual Core 1.4GHz processor with 2GB of RAM and 16GB of onboard storage. That doesn’t sound like a lot, but the key matter with any Chrome OS laptop is that you’re meant to store the vast majority of your content in Google’s cloud. The advantage with a small and lean internal storage system is that boot times are incredibly quick, whether from a cold start or flipping the display screen open. Where other vendors have tended towards portability with 11″ displays in mind, the Toshiba Chromebook CB30 has a nice large 13.3″ display. The slight downside here is that its an ordinary 1366×768 pixel display, so proper HD movie viewing is out of the picture.
In expansion terms Toshiba is relatively generous, with full SD card and kensington lock on the left, while the right side gives you two USB 3.0 ports, HDMI out and a combined audio in/out port. The USB ports are relatively close together which could be problematic if you’ve got bulky USB devices to plug in, but being USB 3.0 they can be quite fast with the right peripherals.
The physical design is an interesting mix of high end appeal and cheap components, which is to be expected given the Toshiba CB30’s low asking price. The textured finish gives it a reasonable amount of grip, but also gives the illusion that it’s more sturdy than it actually is. There’s no way to pick up the Toshiba Chromebook CB30 that won’t have you realising just how hollow and plastic the base and screen bezel actually are. Toshiba usually does a good job with keyboards, and here the Toshiba Chromebook CB30 is quite pleasant for prolonged productivity work.
Chrome OS on the Toshiba Chromebook CB30 is exactly the same as it is on any other Chromebook, and that’s by very specific design on Google’s part. You get 100GB of Google Drive storage thrown in for two years, although you can only get this once; I’ve reviewed a few Chromebooks by now, but Google ties the offer into a single login ID, for what it’s worth. You get Google Docs for office tools, and just about any Chrome application should run on the Toshiba Chromebook CB30. It’s not the world’s fastest laptop, and there’s no generally accepted benchmark for Chromebooks just yet. If you care, it registered a time of 332.6ms on the Sunspider Java test, and in Peacekeeper’s HTML5 test it managed a score of 2951.
In battery life terms the Toshiba Chromebook CB30 is a moderate performer. With looped video it managed around five and half hours before conking out. If your needs were more moderate, it’s reasonable to expect it might just last a day away from a power source.
Google’s promising big things for Chromebook users this year with tighter integration with Android and an improved Google Drive experience for productivity workers.
It faces a stiff challenge against many incoming cheap Windows laptops, and this brings up the pricing equation. It’s taken me a while to review the Toshiba Chromebook CB30, and that means that it’s nicely lowered its real world market price in Australia. Toshiba’s specifies an RRP for the 2GB Chromebook CB30 variant at $449, but it’s not all that difficult to find it well below $399 at regular retail, at which point it becomes a more appealing prospect.