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387 of 401 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Lengthy (And Detailed) Review Of A Very Nice Chromebook
I bought my first Chromebook (the current Samsung model) last spring, and have since purchased three more (HP 11, Acer C720 4GB (upgraded to 128GB SSD), and a C720 2GB). All of the Chromebooks have performed flawlessly so far, and the regular updates to the Chrome OS has only made them better. This Toshiba is my fifth Chromebook and probably not my last. I've not had...
Published 9 months ago by BKarno

versus
60 of 77 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars 3.5 Stars
The quick review:
Screen: 4 Stars
Keyboard: 2.5 Stars
Touchpad: 3 Stars
Battery Life: 5 Stars
Speed/Performance: 4.5 Stars

The long review:
I tried an HP Chromebook 11 for a few days about a week ago. To my surprise, I found it very useful. My ultimate impression was that if the HP added a backlight to it's near perfect keyboard,...
Published 9 months ago by MICROjas


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387 of 401 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Lengthy (And Detailed) Review Of A Very Nice Chromebook, February 13, 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Toshiba CB35-A3120 13.3-Inch Chromebook (Personal Computers)
I bought my first Chromebook (the current Samsung model) last spring, and have since purchased three more (HP 11, Acer C720 4GB (upgraded to 128GB SSD), and a C720 2GB). All of the Chromebooks have performed flawlessly so far, and the regular updates to the Chrome OS has only made them better. This Toshiba is my fifth Chromebook and probably not my last. I've not had any experience with the HP 14, other than looking at it in the store, and I have never seen a Pixel. With the thousands of reviews for all the different Chromebook models here on Amazon I'm not going to get into the details of what Chromebooks can and cannot do. Rather, I would like to focus on how this model stacks up against the other current Chromebook offerings and how it performs with my various peripherals. If you have any question on this Toshiba, Chrome OS, any of the other Chromebook models, or the peripherals I refer to, please feel free to ask. There is a surprising lack of detailed reviews for this machine on the web, so while my review may be long, I wanted to give people as much information as possible.

PACKAGING AND UNBOXING: This may seem like a silly category, but while the Samsung and the HP 11 had excellent packaging, the packaging for the Acers was a bit weak (poorly placed in a thin cloth-like bag and suspended by two lousy paper egg crates on the ends). The Toshiba was nicely packaged. There was a cloth-like bag over the lid which separated the screen from the keyboard, and the whole thing was in a nicely sealed plastic bag. The machine was suspended in the box by 2 plastic spongy foam chunks that fit snugly over the ends. As soon as I flipped the lid up to remove the protective cover the Chromebook started right up. It took less than a minute to enter my Wifi password and language preferences and then it downloaded the latest version of Chrome OS. After restarting I entered my Google account info and the Toshiba downloaded my Chrome environment and began loading my apps and extensions (I have 7 pages worth of apps). While doing the startup, I had also connected the power. The brick isn't all that large, the AC plug is non-polarized, and it has no ground. The overall length from plug to tip is twelve feet (no competition there)! The DC end is straight, and quite large when compared to the downright tiny pin of the Samsung and the small pin of the Acers. I also noticed that the DC plug did not have a real positive snap on the catch (a bit vague) when you pushed it into the port on the computer. As other reviewers have noted, the lid opened nicely and stayed where I set it. I would say the lid has roughly between 130 and 150 degrees of motion. The included literature consisted of a Chrome OS quick-start guide, a Toshiba quick-start guide, and a regulatory information packet. If you are looking for more help simply click on the status area (lower right corner) and then click the question mark. There is also a Get Started guide in the apps.

OVERALL FIT AND FINISH: For a $280 computer I am more than satisfied with the fit and finish of this Chromebook. The exterior and interior are by far the most fingerprint free, really showing no signs of normal day to day handling. Contrast that to the HP 11 which seems to get fingerprinted up the worst. There is very little flex in the body when you lift the Toshiba by the front corner. I would rate the HP 11 first in rigidity followed by the Acer C720, this Toshiba, and lastly the Samsung. Just remember to never lift ANY laptop by the screen/lid. All of the seam edges feel really good on this Chromebook as well. The Acers are probably the worst in this area while the HP 11 is the best, and the Toshiba and Samsung fall comfortably in the middle. Time will tell how durable the finish is, but this usually isn't an issue for me because I really baby my tech. Overall, this is a nicely put together computer. The bottom/back has vent and exhaust slots for the fan to circulate air, but it's not as open as the Acers. The Samsung and HP 11 have no visible vent slots. The HP 11 also has no visible screws holding the case together, though they are there under the colored plastic pieces on the bottom. The Toshiba also uses nice speaker grilles instead of just slots in the bottom. The HP 11 and Samsung can get pretty warm when you're pushing them, while the Acer and Toshiba run much cooler thanks to the fan(as long as you don't obstruct the vents). And before I wrap up this section I would also like to recommend the Amazonbasics 13.3" laptop sleeve. It's well made and fits the Toshiba perfectly. It won't save it from a high fall, but it will protect the computer from scratches and the elements when you transport it.

SCREEN: I have tolerated the screen on my Acer C720, but I have never been completely happy with it. When I fired up the Toshiba I was immediately impressed with the screen. The tone was warm and reminded me of the screen on the Samsung, but with richer colors. The default background image showed really nice reds, yellows, and oranges; colors which don't always look so good on the Acers. The brightness is good, and right on par with all of our Chromebooks. The screen doesn't have the quality or the viewing angles of the HP 11, but again, it isn't nearly as cool in tone as the Acers. When you actually look at them side by side with a field of white on the screen, the Acer looks really blue. Having the same resolution in this larger panel (when compared to the 11.6" models) doesn't really seem to be an issue at all. I don't feel like I'm looking through a screen door or anything as some people would have you believe is the case. I'm generally not a fan of glossy panels, but it really works in this case. I would rate the screen a respectable second to the HP 11 and I am quite pleased with it (both in image and size) so far. Using the single color backgrounds I did a sort of quasi pixel test and found no problems. The only bad pixel we have on any of the Chromebooks is on my C720 and it isn't really a black spot or a stuck color as much as just the look of a tiny smudge on the screen (and I never really notice it in normal use). All of the LCD panels I have ever owned look better after being "burned in" so I would imagine the Toshiba panel should get a little better as I use it. The lid/housing itself is solid enough (not as flimsy as the HP 11 feels) but I would recommend, as with any laptop, that you manipulate it from the center or simultaneously from both corners.

KEYBOARD AND TOUCHPAD: The keyboard definitely has a different feel to it when compared to the other Chromebooks. The HP 11 has the best keyboard of the bunch by a wide margin. The Samsung takes second, followed by the Acers and this Toshiba, however, it wouldn't surprise me if the Toshiba knocked the Acer down a peg as I get used to it. As other reviewers have mentioned, the keyboard is a (tiny) bit stiff. I would imagine that I'll adjust to it (which I am even as I type this review), but it just doesn't seem to have the snap of the other machines. The Toshiba keyboard is nice and quiet, however, if that is a consideration for you (especially compared to the Acers, which can be quite noisy). I like the texture of the Toshiba's touchpad and it has been responding well for me. It has a visible pattern on it that offers just the right amount of resistance under your fingers. It has a similar feel to the HP 11, but isn't as sensitive. The HP 11 is the most sensitive touchpad of all the Chromebooks and it works better for me when it's set to one click below the maximum speed. I would rate the touchpad of the Toshiba as my favorite. I definitely like it better than the pad on the Acer that I use daily due to the surface texture and the larger size. Don't be too quick to judge any Chromebook's touchpad performance. Especially if you are coming from a different Chromebook or if you have a lot of Chrome apps. When my Toshiba was synchronizing to my Google account it was having an affect on the movement of the cursor (remember my 7 pages of apps). This was in no way the fault of the pad, but rather a result of all the apps being downloaded and installed. Once the sync was complete everything smoothed up.

PERFORMANCE: I've done everything with this Chromebook that I've done with all of our Chromebooks and it is seems just as quick as my 4GB C720. To be honest, I never really noticed a difference in performance between the 2GB and 4GB Acers in day to day use, so I wasn't surprised with how well this machine runs. From being shut down to displaying the logon screen takes the Haswells maybe 5 seconds max, and from sleep to logon is about as fast as you can open the lid. Web pages load quickly and scroll very smoothly. Using the example of Facebook, on the Haswells the page loads quickly and the scrolling smooths out quickly as well, the HP 11 and Samsung take longer to load and the page doesn't scroll as smoothly. The Haswell machines are excellent performers when compared to the ARM machines like the Samsung and HP 11 which get the job done, but are definitely in need of a performance upgrade (which I believe is right around the corner). You should notice improvement as pages you visit are cached, and performance may also improve as the system gets broken in. I added a 128GB SSD to my C720 4GB which works great, and I'm hoping to do the same with this Toshiba. I just want to wait until I can find more information about the internals. If it uses the same type SSD drive as the Acers it would be a worthy and likely simple upgrade (though it would void my warranty).

PORTS: Both USB 3 ports seem to be functioning just fine, although they fit a bit tighter than the ports on the other Chromebooks. I tested them with my Logitech mouse, a 32GB flash drive, and several portable HDDs (as well as a few other devices I'll mention later). Connecting my Android phone charged it, but I couldn't browse it or transfer any files. The biggest surprise came when I went to plug in an SD card; it went in ALL THE WAY! For the Chromebooks with an SD card slot it is nice to be able to add a large amount of local storage for a small amount of money. The biggest problem was that the slot on the Samsung and the Acer (no slot on HP 11) do not allow the card to seat fully into the machine. And having to dismount and remove your card every time you wanted to case your computer can be a real annoyance. The SD card slot is also spring loaded. Thank you Toshiba for this simple pleasure. I will never understand why I can get an SD card all the way into my tiny digital camera, but not into my 17" HP laptop or any of my other Chromebooks. I also connected the Toshiba to my TV via HDMI and it worked as well as my C720.

SPEAKERS, HEADPHONE/MIC JACK AND WEBCAM: As other reviewers have mentioned issues with the sound I have been running a constant stream of music off of Google Play Music or playing sound from videos for the entire time I have been using this computer. I am happy to report that I have not had any issues as of yet. I have never had sound issues with any of our Chromebooks that I can report either. The speakers are located on the bottom in the front and they can play pretty loud. The HP 11 speakers may edge out the other Chromebooks simply because they fire up through the keyboard, but I am always using my computer on a table or lap desk (and with headphones or earbuds more often than not) so muffled sound isn't an issue for me. The sound through the headphone jack is really good as well. I have never used a headset/mic with any of the Chromebooks so I really couldn't comment on how well that works. I used the webcam to make a Hangouts call to my brother and it worked. If you do a lot of video calls on Hangouts or you like to play with a webcam I would suggest getting a better one. According to the help files, Chrome OS can support USB webcams (just not the software they come with). I would suggest some research before purchasing a webcam to see if it's compatible.

PRINTING: Because I have had my other Chromebooks connected to my Canon cloud printer I was able to print without doing any additional setup. If you don't have a cloud ready printer it is still really easy to connect a Chromebook to a printer using a the Chrome web browser and a PC or Mac as as a host. It took me all of 5 minutes to set mine up that way with my old printer. With the cost of ink, I tend to print a lot less now days. I actually prefer to "print" things as a PDF file. I have 115 gigs of storage on my cloud drive so I may as well use it.

CHARGING AND BATTERY LIFE: I mentioned the Toshiba charger in an earlier section, but I also wanted to elaborate on the differences in how the Chromebooks charge and how they drain. Like I said earlier, the cords and brick for this Toshiba add up to a total length of 12 feet! That's nice if you don't travel a lot with your Chromebook, but it's a problem if you have to carry that mess around with you. On the positive side, the charger includes a velcro strap that has more than enough length to wrap the cords into a manageable bundle. The cords on the Acer add up to 9 feet. The micro USB charger that comes with the HP 11 is the shortest (6 feet) and most compact of the bunch (the transformer is only 1.5 x 1.5 x 1), but it is a lot easier to carry around. Still, the convenience that everyone talks about in being able to charge your Chromebook with the ever so common micro USB chargers we all have is grossly overrated. The HP 11 takes far longer to fully charge than any of our other Chromebooks (around 3 to 4 hours give or take), and it seems to drain the fastest as well. If you try to charge it with a typical phone charger it will take around 8 hours to complete a full charge. The real icing on the cake though, is that unless you are charging it with the Google charger it will not charge while you are using it. It won't drain as slow, but it will not charge. All of the other Chromebooks we have with their big old bricks fully charge in around 2 hours (I just charged the Toshiba from 3% to full in 1:40). I generally run the Chromebooks at about 70 percent brightness; sometimes lower if the room is darker. With that in mind, I have found the HP 11 to have the shortest battery life (probably due to the display looking so good when you turn it up). The second shortest time on battery would be the Samsung. As far as I can tell, the Acers and the Toshiba seem to have pretty much the same battery life, with a possible edge going to the Toshiba. If you want a machine that will run all day I would recommend the Acers or the Toshiba. I am not going to state time in hours because there are just too many variables which influence battery life. My ratings are based on using the Chromebooks the way I use them, and observing the typical battery life. If you really want to hypermile the battery on a Chromebook you need to turn down the brightness and ditch the streaming. I have gotten over 10 hours off of Toshiba when I dimmed the display and didn't stream video.

WIFI, BLUETOOTH, AND CHROMECAST: The wifi on all our Chromebooks works really well. We dumped cable a few years ago, so we rely on over-the-air television, Netflix, Hulu Plus, Amazon Prime, and other websites/streaming services for our entertainment and they all work well on all the Chromebooks (though they work better and faster on the Toshiba and the Acers). I have a 50 meg internet profile with Time Warner because 30 just wasn't enough. The only machine I have issue with on rare occasions is my C720 (it will drop and start searching for connection). I have used the Chromebooks on public wifi as well, and have never failed to connect. The Toshiba bluetooth works good with my Bose Soundlink Mini, and my son uses his Samsung Bluetooth with a Jawbone Mini Jambox. The only other bluetooth device I used was an old mouse. It worked good, but I picked up a Logitech mouse to replace it. Because we don't have cable, I sometimes cast (to a Google Chromecast) CBS shows that I've missed. Casting a browser window works okay, but you need a strong wifi connection. Tab casting is still in beta and can be hit or miss. I have had better luck casting apps that the Chromecast supports because most of those apps will go online and fetch the content you select. This is the case with Netflix, Hulu Plus, and YouTube as far as I can tell. Mostly though, I cast music from Google Play Music to my home theater system. Even that works better with my Android phone than it does with the Chromebook. The Chromecast device and casting to it have gotten better since it was put on the market, but it still has a ways to go in my opinion. The best option to get content from the Toshiba, Acers, or Samsung to your television is via HDMI. You can connect the HP 11 with an HDMI cable but you will also need a SlimPort adapter, and those adapters plug into the Micro USB charge slot, so you can't charge while you're connected.

PERIPHERALS: All of the peripheral devices I discuss in this section have been used on all of our Chromebooks and I have tested them all on the new Toshiba (they all work quite well on it). If you have the need or the desire to run your Chromebook with a wired ethernet connection you need only purchase a USB ethernet adapter. I have a $15 Plugable brand USB 2 ethernet adapter that I've used on occasion(wifi issues with ATT 2Wire modem). It plugs right in and has worked well for me (and it's a lot bigger than the pictures on Amazon would lead you to believe). I have a couple older WD Passport HDDs and a 2TB WD Elements HDD that I connect from time to time and they all work fine (though I would like to see improvements to the Chrome OS file browser). I've used all sorts of SD cards, USB drives, and even a USB card reader too. If you have a newer digital camera (I have a Canon 330 Elph and a Nikon P7100) you can connect it to the Chromebook to download your photos using the Google Plus photos app. It can be set to start automatically when it detects the camera and you can have it put your photos in the cloud. I should also note that when I take pictures with my Android phone the photos are automatically put in the cloud and will show up on the Chromebook like a minute after you take them. I think if you have an iPhone you can achieve the same results by installing the Google photo app or the google drive app(I am totally off Apple so I can't say for sure). If your camera is not recognized you can always use the SD card slot or a USB card reader for other types of cards. The peripherals I use the most, thought, with the Chromebooks are my DACs (Digital to Analog Converters). Chromebooks, along with Google Play Music or any of the music services (Spotify, Pandora, iHeart, etc.) work great for streaming music. However, if you want to power some quality headphones or even some good earbuds and improve the sound of your music, you need a better DAC than what's onboard. I have two NuForce DACs that I use with the Chromebooks. Both units connect to a USB port, take the digital audio stream, convert it to analog, and amplify the sound. The first one is a Nuforce Icon uDAC 3. It's a more portable unit that uses the USB power operate. It works good with quality earbuds and efficient headphones. All you have to do is plug it into a USB port on the Chromebook and it is automatically selected as the default audio device. The second DAC is a Nuforce Icon DAC. This one is a larger unit that needs to be plugged in, but is has even better sound than the little uDAC and a lot more power. You can also use the DACs as a pre-amplifier when connecting to a receiver or a set of powered desktop speakers. I use mine with my Logitech Z2300 2.1 speaker system and the sound is phenomenal.

So that's my review. If you made it this far, I thank you. And, I hope I've helped you in your research. If you're really anti-Chromebook, just remember that the more these devices are purchased and used by consumers, the better your Windows or Apple OS machines should get. I will be sure to update this review if something happens to come up with the Toshiba; good or bad. And again, if you have any questions or comments please post them as I would be happy to chat.

UPDATE 2-20-2014: The Toshiba has won me over big-time, and my son is loving his hand-me-down Acer C720. I was a bit disappointed this week when I learned that the SSD was soldered onto the motherboard, rendering it pretty much non-replaceable. I can also confirm that while the motherboard does have 2 available "slots" for adding memory, it would also have to be soldered in. Still, I did receive my Transcend 64GB SDXC memory card and it really works great. No problems playing back 1080p video files from the card and I can leave it in the slot since it doesn't stick out like it would have done in my Acer. Since I started using the Toshiba I have never said to myself, "boy, I wish this or that was as good as my Acer", so any worries about any aspect of the performance are gone. I really appreciate the extra real estate the screen provides, and the picture seems to be settling in nicely now that it has a lot more hours on it. I have now adjusted to the keyboard, and I would rank it a solid second to the HP 11. When I went back and tried the keyboard on the Acer it felt rather cramped to me, which is funny because when I first got the Toshiba it felt really big. So hey, don't judge the keyboard until you give it a bit of time. The battery life is awesome, and it charges in under 2 hours. Luckily, I haven't had any sound issues like a couple reviewers have reported, and I'm glad because I like the Toshiba's sound quality. The high frequencies are much more present than in the Acer, and even though the speakers point to the bottom, the sound feels like its radiating up through the keyboard like the HP 11. I have also been happy with how well the Bluetooth works with my Soundlink Mini. The webcam is pretty bad in all but the best light, so I've ordered a Logitech C525 webcam to see how it works. I will update when I test the webcam in case anyone is interested.

WEBCAM UPDATE 2-21-2014: So, I got the Logitech C525 webcam today and I ran it on the Toshiba. The quality of the picture is GREATLY IMPROVED over the built-in unit. With the Webcam Toy app I had to choose the new camera in the Flash Player app that asks you to authorize the camera when you first launch it. With hangouts, I had to go into the settings and choose the Logitech as the default device. It was easy to find. If you do a lot of video calling or recording I would highly recommend a small investment in a better webcam. It's also nice because you can point it around the room without having to move the computer. If anyone can recommend a good recording app in the Chrome Web Store I would appreciate that as well.

CHROME OS UPDATE: With the latest version of Chrome OS being installed on my Chromebooks (version 33), I notice that when I connect my Android phone the Google+ Photo app will launch and ask me if I would like to upload my pictures. For me, this is redundant as every picture I take with my phone is backed up into my Cloud already, but for some this would be a nice added feature of Chrome OS. However, I am still not able to browse the files and do transfers between my phone and the Chromebook.
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382 of 401 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Lightening Fast! Long Battery, Great Sound, Size and Screen,, February 5, 2014
This review is from: Toshiba CB35-A3120 13.3-Inch Chromebook (Personal Computers)
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Length:: 1:17 Mins

If you're looking at this Chromebook, or any Chromebook, I will assume that you are aware of the differences between a PC and diving into the Google world wholeheartedly. Therefore, I am not going to review the entire Chromebook platform but to say that I am very pleased with it and have not looked back. 2 years of Cloud storage for free is a great deal. I love Google docs and the flexibility of it -- not to mention not being chained to expensive upgrades with Office. Likewise, you can see the specs on the product description, so I will stick to my own experience in this review:

(You can read my more detailed review below, but the first thing I think should be noted is that I have NEVER used an internet machine with this much speed. It is almost ridiculous how quickly pages open. I pay for high speed wireless but didn't realize how much I was under-utilizing it until I started browsing and streaming music and videos with this laptop. I am literally awestruck. I am even able to stream smoothly from the public internet at the airport, Starbucks and the free citywide internet that is part of my Brighthouse package -- I have never been able to do that on any of my other laptops, iPads, Android devices...nada. More details to follow).

This machine feels very well built. It is lightweight but sturdy. The SD card slot works great, allowing a full insert of the card so you can add local memory and leave it in without having the card sticking partway out. The usb inputs all work great and as expected. There is a small, nearly silent fan, two little speakers and rubber nubs on the bottom for stability.

The keyboard is ideal. The keys take the perfect amount of pressure and make the perfect satisfying little click -- I know keyboard preference is very individualized, but of any laptop I've ever owned this is my favorite keyboard for fast typing. I have avoided the Chromebook to date primarily because I didn't want one of those tiny screens and smaller, more compact keyboards. Likewise, I didn't want one too big. As Goldilocks says: this one is Just Right. For reference, I have large hands for a woman with long slender fingers. Compared to a man's hands they're about the same length as an average man but slimmer.

The screen half of the computer is well weighted, allowing it to be opened without pulling down on the computer, but still keeping the computer closed when desired. The case is nicely textured not allowing fingerprints and helping to avoid being slippery so you won't butterfinger it and drop it. I am posting a very short video so you can see how the screen opens. I despise a laptop that feels like I have to pry it open on my desk. Please forgive the crappy video quality, I don't do this professionally.

I have watched a lot of movies on this and the streaming is great. The Internet speed I get with this is awesome and makes for a smooth feed. The screen is glossy and very clear, which was a pleasant surprise considering the other Chromebook reviews I had read about a less than stellar screen experience. If this screen is in any way subpar to my Asus Zenbook, I can't find the difference. By default, I had it set on 480p and was happy. But I just switched it to 1080p HD. I am even more impressed by the video quality. I watched a video clip HD and it was really nice. I will say that at certain angles while watching a show, the screen becomes distorted. But when I get it set just right, I am pleased with the display.

Connecting to my internet was easy. I have Brighthouse 90mbps (or that's what I pay for...I never get that much) This connected without issue and seems to make better use of the high speed than my other laptop. I've used this in the airport and at Starbucks and have had good luck connecting and staying connected. I also use my Bose Bluetooth headphones and connected it to the Bluetooth in my car to play an audiobook, the connectivity is perfect and simple.

I should also mention the sound. I was truly surprised by the quality of the sound for those tiny speakers and this low price. Don't expect surround sound, but for their size and location, they're really great.

The booting speed is impressive too; open it and it is on -- ready to serve. In fact, everything I do with this is extremely fast. The battery has a long life and an even more wicked standby. I charged it for a couple of hours, used it, then went on a road trip for 7 days. Came back and the thing was still basically fully charged. Using it constantly, I would say I am getting 8-9 hours out of the charge.

Connecting to Cloud printing was a small challenge for me as I've never used Cloud printing. However, I was pleased to find that my printer is Cloud ready and with 2% brain power I figured it out. I can print to my home printer from anywhere. Very cool. My printer is an Epson XP-810.

I've had Toshiba computers in the past and have always been pleased. I have complete faith that this will be another excellent, reliable addition to my computing life.

UPDATE: I have been using this little chromebook for a few weeks now and I have to say, I am in love. I still love the keyboard and this thing is WAAAAY faster than my ipad for surfing the internet. I was always complaining that I was being ripped off by paying for the super fast speed through the cable company. However now that I am using this more than my ipad for surfing, I really can see what I am paying for. Pages open INSTANTLY. Why it is so much better on this, I do not know. -- Whoa! For the heck of it I tested my speed at Ookla speedtest.net and on this, wirelessly, I am getting 72mbps download 13 upload with a Ping of 8. That blows my iPad away. It blows my Asus Zenbook away too. I ran this test at around noon on a rainy Saturday. [...]
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134 of 147 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Impressively sleek in appearance, fast, with long lasting battery, January 25, 2014
By 
zhabazon (Washington DC area) - See all my reviews
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Toshiba CB35-A3120 13.3-Inch Chromebook (Personal Computers)
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I purchased a MacBook Pro a few months ago and love the laptop computer. I've been an Apple customer since the inception of Macintosh, owning only one PC in my lifetime. I have never purchased an iPad. The Toshiba Chromebook CB35-A3120 PLM01U-002005 13.3-Inch Cloud Computer is Toshiba's first entry into the Chromebook market, my first Chromebook and it did not disappoint this consumer.

It is about the same dimensions as my MacBook Pro, but thinner and substantially lighter in weight. With a solid state, no hard drive or DVD in this one, it is the one I'll take when traveling. Out of the box, I plugged in the Chromebook, then opened the lid. Immediately, the registration process began and since I'm already a Google customer, it was quick and simple. Setup was faster than fast and within a couple of minutes I was on the web, with access to all my Google contents, even those from my Android. Another few minutes and I was set up to print from my Epson printer which is in another room. Whereas I need to use an Epson app to print from the Android, this prints from the Google Cloud. The Google store offers a lot of apps, many of which are free, and a few which I found desirable and downloaded. With two USB ports, I'm able to carry a USB with me instead of relying on the cloud for everything. With the HDMI, I can hook up to a larger screen if I want. Chromebooks are designed for streaming and internet based operations, and there is no software to install. It's all out there for you to use without taking up space or requiring moving parts in your computer. Microsoft Office doesn't work, but documents can be put into Google Docs, then be converted to an Office document.

The appearance of this Chromebook is very sleek, with an attractive texture to the cover that feels good in the hand. For me, it's an easier, less slippery grip than others I've held onto. Start up is nearly instantaneous with the Chromebook as soon as the lid is lifted up -- I turn it off each time I'm done with it. The battery time is longer than I'd expected, fortunately because although the charge time is fast, the power supply I have gets uncomfortably hot. Because of this, I do not keep it plugged in while charging. My second criticism of this unit is that it makes a disturbing noise on the left side closest to me periodically while operating. At first, I thought the sound was coming from the power supply, but determined it is from the Chromebook after disconnecting the power supply. It's not constant, just annoying when it occurs because it takes over my focus. The keypad is very comfortable for me and I've not stumbled moving between my MacBook Pro and Toshiba Chromebook. The trackpad is a little jumpy, but not as bad as it could be, even after making adjustments through the Settings. The screen presents a terrific image and the speakers also are better than I'd expected at this price. All in all, I can't believe they are selling this Chromebook for 279. I can see why Chromebooks are all that in schools now. It's nice to have an option to lock your Chromebook if you're taking it to a place where it might "walk away" and requiring a sign-in to access the operating system is another plus. I like it and could love the Toshiba Chromebook in time.

UPDATE a few days later: Amazonian Consumer, another customer, provided comments on my review which I think are important. He/she noted things that are posted on the Toshiba website, so I'll address the components. I have used the Bluetooth with no problem at all. The RAM is limited to what's installed and the battery is not user-replaceable. There is a Skype limitation because Chrome OS uses Hangouts instead, and the camera does work fine. The SD card reader works, too, without a problem. I also didn't mention that I like the Velcro cable wrap attached to the power cord, so I don't have to add one. Mine power supply still gets hot, but when the charge is complete, it cools down. Ironically, my Chromebook has stopped making the noises it was initially making. Another observation I've made is that the trackpad seems to occasionally have a mind of its own and it sends things before I'm ready. It's more than being overly sensitive and I'm going to need to work on correcting this.

UPDATE 2/6/14: The audio now continuously goes in and out and the machine sound which I mentioned in my initial review is occurring again, usually when the audio goes out. I have a call in to Toshiba but they aren't trained yet to deal with the Chromebook, so someone will be calling me back "in a day or two." I'm also still experiencing the cursor arbitrarily moving up on the page when I have stopped typing, so I have to be especially careful to assure that what I'm typing is being entered where intended.

UPDATE 2/18/14: The audio problem is even worse and Toshiba never called me or net an email other than a survey on their customer service. It took several of my initiated attempts in phone calls and I'm finally awaiting a box and label which will take another two days to arrive for this Chromebook to be returned to Toshiba for repair. They offered me no option of simply sending a label and letting me return it in the original boxes. Dealing with them has been terrible and one rep had the gall to ask if I'd rate him a 10 on a scale of 1-10 for assistance in a survey.

I'm tempted to reduce my rating of four stars but will hold off until I receive my repaired lemon of a Chromebook which I still love despite its clicking sound, faulty speakers, sticky trackpad and terrible Toshiba telephone customer service.

UPDATE 3/11/14: Received my repaired Chromebook last night (FedEx signature required delivery was only option) and the speakers had been replaced. What a difference! No clicking sound, humming, anything other than the sound of lovely audio through the speakers. The trackpad still isn't the smoothest, but more importantly, it still selects things that I have no intention of selecting. For example, when selecting an email, one above or below opens instead of the one I select. I've also had pages close or disappear for no apparent reason.
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54 of 62 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Toshiba vs. our other Chromebooks - I like it but I'm returning it, February 17, 2014
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This review is from: Toshiba CB35-A3120 13.3-Inch Chromebook (Personal Computers)
We already have several Chromebooks around the house but we ordered Toshiba's 13-incher because someone actually sat on the older Samsung Chromebook and cracked the display. I do like this Toshiba but I am going to return it because, while it comes with many features that would theoretically make it 'better' than my favorite HP Chromebook 11 or our cracked Samsung or our still healthy Acer, it's lacking in a few that in my view - and this is my view only - make a Chromebook a Chromebook and make Chromebooks such great devices.

TOSHIBA vs. OUR OTHER CHROMEBOOKS (especially the HP)

As I noted above, I am now returning Toshiba's Chromebook but, for anyone who's shopping for one, please read why because some of its features that don't mean much to me may turn out to make good reasons for someone else to pick this model over whatever else.

Toshiba's entry comes with a number of improvements over HP's Chromebook 11 and it distinguishes itself from Acer's C720P Chromebook by its larger display. If we are going to do an HP vs. Toshiba's comparison, this is where Toshiba comes ahead:

- Faster processor - Toshiba's is without a doubt significantly speedier than HP's Chromebook 11 thanks to its Haswell processor. Tabs open and update faster. The 11 Acer C720P is also Haswell-based.
- Longer battery life - I have to admit, while my HP will easily play a 2-hour movie off Netflix, the battery would be more than half-drained in the process. I was able to play two movies on the Toshiba and there was still enough life for a couple of hours of Web surfing.
- More, better ports - Toshiba's 2 USB 3.0 ports beat HP's slower 2 USB 2.0, then there's a full HDMI and a memory card reader slot on the Toshiba while all HP has is a nice but not as capable SlimPort output.
- Larger display - 13 inches is larger than 11 inches.
- Fingerprint-proof body - unlike HP's smooth, slick body, Toshiba's grooved body finish is not only fingerprint-proof but also allows for a better grip.

However, fast CPUs, physical expansion ports and a 13-inch display are not why I am in love with Chromebooks - I do appreciate the long battery life though. I happen to prefer a Chromebook such as HPs or Acer's for a number of reasons and here is why I prefer HP's beautiful 11 inch product over Toshiba's.

- Toshiba's is heavy - it's exactly one pound or almost 50% heavier than HP's Chromebook. I happen to use my Chromebook on my lap, on the couch, in bed or to carry it around the house held in one hand and one pound makes a big difference. Watching a movie in bed or checking the weather in the morning as I wake up or browsing through the news while I was watching a movie on the big living room TV was awkward with the Toshiba. Because it's... heavy.
- Toshiba is larger, thicker - 11 inches vs 13 inches may not seem like such a big difference but the 11-inch form factor may be the sweet spot when it comes to size of little computer gadgets. Something larger becomes more difficult to carry around the house or at least that's my experience.
- Proprietary charger - I can use most USB chargers with my HP's Chromebook but Toshiba's comes with its own. Yes, Toshiba's longer battery life makes it less likely that it needs a charge while in the middle of doing something but the ability to charge your Chromebook even when the original charger was misplaced or stopped working is a major convenience.
- HP's has a stronger body - and it's not a subjective impression entirely. HPs Magnesium chassis makes a well put together, solid little computer. Toshiba's larger, heavier body by comparison appears to be more fragile and less durable.
- HPs display is vastly superior. It's not just brighter with more lively colors but it's also viewable from a much wider angle - practically from almost any angle. By comparison, Toshiba's display is dull. Add to the superior HP display the fact that Toshiba's has the exact same resolution as HP's Chromebook but the pixels are spread on a large display and you therefore get fewer 'dots per inch' on Toshiba's machine and that's not good.
- HPs speakers sound better - yes, it's almost a subjective comment but everyone who listened to both agreed with me so maybe it's not too subjective.

And then there are some of the subjective criteria. The HP is a very, very pretty little computer, I will even go as far as calling it 'beautiful'. I know, 'design' is subjective but once you've experienced such a slick Chromebook as HP's you may not be happy with one of the more 'industrial' designs. I prefer HPs design and finish, its responsive keyboard and trackpad to Toshiba's. Toshiba's body feels 'cheap' and rings hollow whenever I hit the keys or I hit (click) on the pad. It's as if the body has thin, not so sturdy walls that buckle a little when pressed.

If the above sounds almost like an indictment on Toshiba's product, don't read it that way. I am still rating it as a 4 stars (I like it) because, while not the ideal Chromebook for me, this is still a Chromebook and that's a good thing. Get the Toshiba if speed, battery life, ports, and a larger display are what matters to you.

For anyone not a Chromebook user yet, I am adding a couple of sections on what Chromebooks are and what they are good for. Whatever follows may not be very interesting to anyone who's already used one.

_____________________________________________________

WHY A CHROMEBOOK?

There's so much to say here but let me make a quick summary. And never forget that we are talking about an 'under 300' device here because, yes, anything that costs 3-4-5 times as much should do better most of the time.

˕ My Chromebook is my most used computer excluding work hours and by 'computer' I mean PCs, laptops and tablets.
˕ Malware, spyware, adware-free. Since nothing is really 'installed' on the Chromebook, I can't see how one would ever be infected. I am now using my Chromebook to open suspicious emails or click on dubious URLs that I don't dare touch from a laptop.
˕ Extremely safe OS. I don't know if this is common knowledge but Google is constantly challenging hackers to crack their OS. As far as I know, Chrome OS wasn't cracked yet.
˕ Easy to share among any number of users without any concerns of compromising privacy. If you have a Google account, you simply sign in and you are going to be within your own, personal environment.
˕ Constantly updated and upgraded. Google updates Chrome OS every few weeks and I found my Chromebook actually getting better all the time rather than slowly fall into obsolescence. HP's Chromebook will not replace Samsung's, it will be used by another family member who really, really wanted one after watching my happy relationship with our first one.
˕ Nearly maintenance free. Whenever I don't use a tablet or even a laptop for a while, they tend to get very busy for a while once I turn them back on. Tablets, especially, are almost impossible to use until all those dozens of updates/upgrades process. Not the case for Chromebooks. Whatever upgrades may take place don't hit my Chromebook. Whenever I call up an app, I get it in its latest version.
˕ The attached keyboard helps a lot. Yes, you can pair a keyboard and even a mouse to a tablet but the Chromebook's keyboard is always there, it negates the need of a stand or even some protecting case.
˕ Chrome OS is streamlined and efficiently focused where it matters, on the everyday uses most of us need a 'computer' most of the time.
˕ Chrome OS being such a streamlined OS, browsing and running apps on a Chromebook is in fact faster than off a PC/laptop/tablet of equivalent specs.
˕ Relatively low prince, 11.6" display and light weight seem to be just about right for something that typically you'd be using to browse the Web while watching TV or take to and from school.
˕ Chromebooks come with a free 100GB in Google's cloud for two years these days. Cloud storage is entirely optional and I wouldn't use it for anything sensitive but it's a good way to share and store data that's not important or confidential in nature.

WHY NOT A CHROMEBOOK?

Yes, Chromebooks can't do everything. Google's productivity suites notwithstanding, they are mainly and they are best at media consumption rather than production. Nobody should buy a Chromebook and expect to be able to edit video or perform some heavy word processing or do some hard-core gaming. There are other machines and devices for such tasks. My experience is that a Chromebook can't do 'everything'. Tablets are more portable, PCs and laptops are more powerful but, to me, my Chromebook is the most fun to use and it's likely to stay this way. I am not going to call it my 'second' or 'third' or 'first' computer but, objectively, it's the one most use outside business hours if what we measure is 'hours'.

--
>> Brush your teeth, it's the law! <<
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23 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Paradigm Shift, February 25, 2014
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This review is from: Toshiba CB35-A3120 13.3-Inch Chromebook (Personal Computers)
I started the shift away from my pride and joy Macbook Pro to Chromebooks with Samsung's ARM entry in late 2012. Compared to Samsung's model, Toshiba's Intel Haswell-based Chromebook is better in every way. Most striking is the performance difference. My Samsung Chromebook proved to be a solid workhouse, but always felt a little underpowered no matter what the task. Not so here. Everything is just fast.

Toshiba's Chromebook is solidly built in a plastic Macbook-Air like case, nice screen for this price point, great keyboard, nice camera, and decent speakers. The buttonless touchpad is functional, but certainly won't challenge the stuff Apple is putting out. The battery life is amazing, averaging 10-12 hours with moderate use. Plus, with a little bit of tech-fu on your end, you can turn this hardware into a full-blown Linux laptop side-by-side with ChromeOS.

For a techie like me, this is the perfect platform at a dirt-cheap price.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Very Impressed by this Chromebook, February 21, 2014
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This review is from: Toshiba CB35-A3120 13.3-Inch Chromebook (Personal Computers)
I bought this computer to replace my 2013 Macbook Air that I sold. I needed a computer that was lightweight and has good battery life, similar to the Air. I chose this model because I have found 13" to be my favorite screen size and I am very happy with my decision.

Design and Feel:
Coming from a Macbook Air this computer actually has a lot in common in terms of design. It is about as thick as the Air is at its thickest point and has nice rounded corners. I like the plastic shell because it doesn't seem to pick up fingerprints or smudges nearly as easily as my Air. The keyboard and trackpad look as though they could have been lifted straight off the Air. The keys are fairly quiet and the feel nice and sturdy when you are typing on them. Unlike a lot of cheaper laptops, this computer has no noticeable bend or movement while typing or pushing down on it. The trackpad on this is fairly good. Obviously the glass covered beauty on the Air blows this one out of the water but for $300 I would be surprised if you can do much better, clicks are accurately registered and my finger movement across the screen seems nice and smooth.

Battery:
The battery life on this has been great so far. I noticed that using Chrome with multiple tabs and streaming music would drain the battery on my Mac very quickly compared to what that laptop was supposed to get and this computer gets at least the same battery life as my Air, at least 8+ hours.

Performance:
This computer is a beast for the price. I haven't noticed any real lag between this or a high end machine browsing the web. If your the average user then this computer will certainly be plenty powerful for you. Setting the computer up was also a breeze, I use chrome on my other computers and my entire setup consisted of me just signing into my Google account.

Display:
This display on this computer is also surprisingly good. I took a slight resolution hit moving from the air (1440x900 to 1366x768) but its really not that noticeable. My eyes also can't really tell the difference in terms of color reproduction between the two displays. Viewing angles on this are fairly good side to side, up and down can be very noticeable but the screen has plenty of leeway in terms of movement so this shouldn't be a problem for most.

Conclusion:
All in all I am impressed by this computer. To all of those thinking about whether or not a Chromebook will be able to do everything that you need it to, unless you are using specific Windows or Mac only programs on a daily basis on your local machine a Chromebook will do everything you need it to. I do a lot of coding and so my workaround on the Chromebook is just to use the built in Chrome Remote Desktop to connect to my Desktop PC at home. Most of my time on my laptop is just spent checking emails, writing word documents, or making spreadsheets and this computer can do all of that without the hassle of an operating system like OS X or Windows. I strongly recommend anyone on the fence about buying a Chromebook to just take the leap and try it out, I think you will like it.
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21 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Just the right screen size., February 12, 2014
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This review is from: Toshiba CB35-A3120 13.3-Inch Chromebook (Personal Computers)
When I finally decided to dabble in the Chromebook experiment, I did so with the Acer c720. And while I love the device and Chrome OS, the 11 inch screen was a tad jarring when using 15+ inch laptops for almost a decade. Thus, I was need of a slightly larger machine that still had the processing power and battery life (namely Haswell) of the Acer without a stark compromise in hardware. Thankfully when CES rolled around Toshiba announced the 13 inch gray area for their respective Chromebook lineup. And I must say, I am quite amazed at the quality and performance of this device right out of the box. While not the highest resolution, the screen looks crisp, bright, and viewing angles are marginally better than the Acer. The keyboard and trackpad are responsive and tactile, and the overall hardware design looks and feels better than the Acer line. In short, I would declare this the best Chromebook on the market within this budget price range and could not recommend it enough. If you understand what Chrome OS is trying to achieve and are even remotely interested, this is the device for you.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best laptop I've ever had, March 11, 2014
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This review is from: Toshiba CB35-A3120 13.3-Inch Chromebook (Personal Computers)
I love this thing. Light weight. Super fast, I mean you open this thing and poof within seconds your surfing. Speakers sound great.
The texture of this laptop is even cool. Has a rough texture, fingerprint resistant. Screen resolution is beautiful and bright. This has an HDMI out plug in so you can stream whatever you want to a larger HD Tv or monitor. Battery life is as good as any I'v had. This uses the Google Chrome /Linux operating system. Very fast and you really don't need virus protection because it is basically just a browser. You get a lot of free Google drive so you can use Google,docs, spreadsheet etc and save them to the cloud.I work for a major corporation that has over 9000 employees world wide and we have switched to Google so believe me it is easy and works.There isn't anything I can't do with this laptop that I could do with my older Windows laptop except it is faster and less buggy.It automatically updates. I highly recommend this. My son paid over 500 bucks for his windows based laptop and is is slower then this one by far.
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60 of 77 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars 3.5 Stars, February 7, 2014
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This review is from: Toshiba CB35-A3120 13.3-Inch Chromebook (Personal Computers)
The quick review:
Screen: 4 Stars
Keyboard: 2.5 Stars
Touchpad: 3 Stars
Battery Life: 5 Stars
Speed/Performance: 4.5 Stars

The long review:
I tried an HP Chromebook 11 for a few days about a week ago. To my surprise, I found it very useful. My ultimate impression was that if the HP added a backlight to it's near perfect keyboard, used a different trackpad, and fixed the performance issues, it would be the best low cost laptop ever. The crappy trackpad I could live with, but the performance was TERRIBLE. I can attest to the videos online (search for HP 11 vs any Intel Chromebook side by side) that show how much slower the ARM chipset is than the intel. While I was using the HP 11, I could just feel how everything was taking a little bit longer than it should on almost every task. It did, to it's credit, complete every task I asked of it, but always just took a little longer (and loading times over and over again add up). I just couldn't live with it.

I just received the Toshiba Chromebook today. While I'm very happy with it, you may wonder why I only gave it 3.5 stars. It's because the Toshiba is the polar opposite of the HP 11. The performance and the trackpad are noticeably better but the keyboard and screen are worse. The keyboard spacing is fine (if not identical to the HP11) but the buttons resist your fingers and make it slightly more difficult to type on. The screen is good but doesn't have the superior viewing angles of the HP 11. Put simply: If someone combined the best of both these laptops and added a backlit keyboard, it would be the perfect chromebook. Unfortunately, I couldn't wait any longer and had to settle with function over form. Lucky for me, this was so inexpensive that I just might be able to get the perfect chromebook next year (or maybe even the end of this year.)
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Very Good For It's Purpose, March 24, 2014
This review is from: Toshiba CB35-A3120 13.3-Inch Chromebook (Personal Computers)
I won't do a lengthy review (well, super lengthy) on this particular item because there are already so many extremely good, well written reviews on it by now. But this is a quickie review based on my short time with it since buying it, so note that it does not reflect any experience I have with the longevity of the product, as I'll add updated notes once I have a few months of use on it. That being said, I knew what I was getting with a Chromebook, and just wanted something that I could use while sitting at the table in the living room while watching TV to check Facebook, emails, and a few basic tasks. I have a good, solid WiFi connection too, which is of course essential if you're going to use any Chromebook since they are for the most part, a web based machine.

I have looked at the HP offerings and like others found their screens to be a bit washed out. I have known people who got the more established Samsung model and all of them eventually had problems with it, causing me to question the quality control of that model. The Acers - too small. So when I saw several of them side-by-side at a local store, the Toshiba stood out a bit in terms of overall looks, and a screen that to me, appeared to be just a bit more saturated than the others. At 13 inches, the screen size is about right - not tiny and not full laptop size, making the Toshiba good and portable without being insanely small. Keyboard is cheapish, but still decent. The plastic bezel around the screen looks like it could crack fairly easily if you put too much pressure on it the wrong way, so take caution when picking the machine up and holding it, especially with the screen open. Overall though, the machine feels decently built, and the inclusion of a couple of USB ports and a SD reader is good. The 2 gigs of RAM, processor, and 16 gigs or storage space would be considered very poor on a "real" laptop, but since no actual operating system is being run, the machine feels more like a traditional laptop with 4 gigs of RAM and slightly better specs.

My list of pro and con items based on my experience so far with the machine:

PRO:

1) Battery life: 7-8 hours easy depending on use, screen brightness, etc. The charger "brick" however, does get VERY hot during charging (see below - and never charge any item when you're not at home to supervise it, etc).

2) Screen/Keyboard: Good screen, more saturated than other Chromebooks although you can tell under certain conditions it's not very high quality - example, when you see graduations in color from light to dark, you'll see "banding" (stripes) for each shade as opposed to smooth graduation - but then, you're not going to be Photoshopping on this, so... Keyboard standard for the price. Overall build quality "decent to good".

3) Connection strength: Very good - picked up numerous neighbor's WiFi routers as well as mine and the wireless speed was even higher than on my normal laptop. One small hangup getting it connected to mine on the first attempt, but it picked it up on the second try and no issues after. Connected with gmail account with no problems.

4) Apps: It's not Windows or Android or anything like that, but there are all of the Google apps plus a lot of choices for standard games, productivity, and more. Remember, it's not an OS based laptop, so you won't be doing OS based laptop things on it. Still, I was surprised what you can do and what is available.

5) Cam: Low res, grainy web cam (expected). Works. Note though, you cannot Skype using a Chromebook, but you can use the cam for taking still photos and for doing video calls using Google+ "Hangouts".

CONS:

1) Price: I personally think all Chromebooks are overpriced. I think $229 instead of around $279 would be more appropriate for this and other Chromebook machines. These days you can get a lower-end Windows machine in the $279-299 range, so in my opinion these should be just a bit lower than they are.

2) Build: I put this in the pro area but also here because I do feel the plastic body and bezel area around the screen are a more cheaper grade of plastic than they could have been given the price. Sturdy enough, but handle with care.

3) Charging: HOT charging transformer ("brick") when it charges.

4) Printing: Do your research on how to print using a Chromebook - it's not a simple matter of plugging in a printer and doing it like on a standard laptop and involves Google cloud printing for most. You can find information on how to do this on, duh, Google.

Chomebooks are a niche product that aren't for everyone, but do fill a gap for those who don't need a full, "real", laptop and those who don't like trying to type on a tablet. If your needs are reasonably basic and just include web work and email, these are perfect, but if you take the time to explore the Chromebook app store area you may also find some other productivity, social, and basic gaming apps that you'll enjoy and that come in handy as well. Keyboard shortcuts are different here compared to a standard laptop so i suggest taking the time to go through the tutorials at setup. You'll be able to use many USB mice and drives, but there are special considerations for printing, so do some Google searching for how to do that with one of these machines.

I think Toshiba's offering is good compared to the others available, and well worth considering.
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Toshiba CB35-A3120 13.3-Inch Chromebook
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