Chrome is still looking for acceptance as an operating system, and trying to find it by being cheaper to buy and operate. So far, it’s largely stuck to netbook-ish formats, with screens eleven inches or smaller. Toshiba looks to buck that trend with a bigger screen… and a low price.
Two Inches Make A Difference
Probably the biggest news about this Chromebook, debuting tomorrow at CES, is the fact that it’s got a 13.3″ screen. That’s roughly as big as the Chromebook Pixel, Google’s offbeat, high-end Chromebook, but it will likely have a more conventional aspect ratio of 16:9, so watching Netfix won’t be a chore. And another factor worth paying attention to is the price.
Apparently Toshiba will be bringing this Chromebook in at just $279, which is in line with the price of other Chromebooks, but makes it a lot more tempting to people who need a cheap computer with a lot of real estate. Also tempting is the size; this is just .8 inches thick and weighs three pounds. It’s a conventional Chromebook in most other respects, however: It’s running a Haswell Celeron processor, has 16GB of physical storage along with 100GB of Chrome storage, and comes with the usual USB 3.0 ports, an SD card reader, an HDMI port, and naturally, Chrome under the hood. So you can add the storage you need to make it a real computer.
Good, But Not Great
It would really be lovely to see Google knuckle under to a few realities; Chromebooks coming with just 16GB of storage is both annoying and will keep this from being the ideal cheap work laptop for a lot of people. And Chrome is still not an operating system until it has some offline functionality. But, for $279, and with Ubuntu installed, it’s pretty hard to beat the power you get at the price you want.
Dan Seitz is an obsessive nerd living in New England. He lives in the Boston area with a fiancee, a dog, a cat, and far too many objects with processors.