Toshiba's $330 Chromebook 2 gets modest tweaks: backlit keyboard, Broadwell CPU

These middle-of the road models offer few surprises, but a $430 version of this 13-inch laptop will get an Intel Core i3.

toshibachromebook2

Toshiba is making some modest improvements to its Chromebook 2 laptops, adding 5th-generation Intel processors and backlit keyboards.

The base model will cost $330 with an Intel Celeron processor, while a $430 version will have an Intel Core i3 chip. Both Chromebooks have 13.3-inch 1080p non-touch displays, and weigh in at 2.9 pounds. Toshiba says it will offer up to 4GB of RAM in these laptops. (Toshiba currently sells a $250 Chromebook with 2GB of memory and a 1366x768 display; it’s unclear if this model is sticking around.)

Other specs include front-facing speakers (tuned by headphone maker Skullcandy), 8.5 hours of battery life, a full-sized SD card slot, HDMI output and 802.11ac Wi-Fi. Buyers also get 100 GB of Google Drive storage for two years. (There’s no word on internal storage, but presumably it’s the same 16 GB as current models.)

Unfortunately, Toshiba hasn’t followed Google’s lead in adding USB-C support to its Chromebook, instead opting for one USB 2.0 port, and another USB 3.0 port. While it’s still early days for USB-C, the number of USB-C peripherals is growing, and it’s nice being able to charge, connect accessories, and power an external monitor all from a single cable.

Toshiba will start selling both of the new Chromebook 2 laptops in October.

Why this matters: While some other Chromebooks are getting much bigger screens, convertible touch displays, and unbelievably low prices, Toshiba is playing it safe with its new browser-based laptops. It’s not too big, not too small, and lacking in gimmicks, so it could be just the right fit for accessing the web through Google’s Chrome browser.

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