Toshiba Chromebook 2: A Beautiful Display

We’ve talked quite a bit already about the great display in the Toshiba Chromebook 2. Really, it’s the primary reason to buy this laptop over one of the alternatives, and as such it’s the best place to start our objective benchmarks. For these tests, we can’t create a color profile so what you get in the box is what you’re going to have to live with, meaning display quality becomes even a bit more important. On the other hand, it’s also important to remember that having really accurate colors is mostly a concern for imaging/video professionals or A/V enthusiasts, and you could certainly argue that neither group is really looking to use a Chromebook. For most users, the most compelling aspect is going to be the LCD viewing angles, as it means you don’t have to be positioned perfectly to get a legible screen:

TN panels always have problems with vertical viewing angles, which makes them a particularly bad choice on laptops as you’re frequently looking at the screen from slightly above rather than straight on. Over the years, at least that aspect has improved slightly, but it’s still clearly inferior to the experience that an IPS panel can offer – and don’t even get me started on the “from below” angles on TN, though that’s usually less of a concern. The Toshiba Chromebook 2 1080p display has no problems, regardless of viewing angle, and you reach the point where the angle is far too oblique to be useful before you have any issues with color shifting. Let’s move on to the color accuracy figures.

Display Brightness - White Level

Display Brightness - Black Level

Display Contrast Ratio

CalMAN - White Point Average

The maximum brightness of nearly 400 nits is great to see, as it makes this laptop useable even in outdoor environments, though reflections from the glossy display can still be a problem. The black levels at maximum brightness are 0.371 as well, which while not perfectly black are still closer than what you’ll see on most other laptops. Combined, we end up with a contrast ratio of 1063:1, though I should note that contrast improved at 200 nits to 1291:1 thanks to a proportionally better black level. The white point is also quite good, coming closer to the desired 6504K than any other Chromebook we’ve tested so far.

CalMAN - Grayscale Average dE 2000

CalMAN - Gretag Macbeth Average dE 2000

CalMAN - Saturations Average dE 2000

CalMAN - Gamut Average dE 2000

Delta E values could still be improved, but it has to be said that the Toshiba display still rates far better than the vast majority of Windows laptops we’ve tested. There are definitely colors that miss the mark, but in most of our tests the average Delta E ends up being around 4.0, which is higher than the desired average of 3.0 but quite a bit lower than the point where inaccuracies start to become distracting (6.0). The only displays we’ve tested in the above charts that do better overall are on the Nexus 9 and iPad Air tablets, and those are the two best tablet displays we’ve tested. When you look at the results of the other Chromebooks (including the Pixel), Toshiba really stands out from the crowd of mediocre color quality.

If you want more details on the display, the above gallery contains additional charts for our LCD quality testing. Color gamut is basically equal to sRGB, which is what most people would want on an Internet-centric device. Basically, it's a really good display, and exceptional to find such quality on a $300 laptop. I just wish we could get any Windows laptop for under $750 with something close to this level of quality. For all of those who comment that they “stopped reading after seeing how bad the display was”, at least this time there’s nothing to complain about. I still wish this sort of performance was more of the norm rather than the exception, and perhaps we’ll get there over the coming years, but regardless it’s a nice change of pace – and all the more refreshing to see on a $329 device.

Toshiba Chromebook 2 Subjective Evaluation Toshiba Chromebook 2 Performance
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  • tdo51144 - Thursday, February 12, 2015 - link

    like it
  • TheJian - Friday, February 13, 2015 - link

    "In Octane, Kraken, and SunSpider, the N2840 consistently beats the Tegra K1 and in some cases it even ties (roughly) Apple’s A8X."
    Umm, isn't nexus 9 running a K1, and beating n2840 here in Octane and Kraken?

    "Take NVIDIA’s Tegra K1 SoC, which pairs one of the fastest SoC GPUs with a respectable ARM-based CPU; by contrast, the N2840’s CPU is generally faster than the Tegra K1’s CPU"
    Both won 2 of the 4 benchmarks you ran (if comparing to nexus 9 which houses the latest K1 rev), not sure how you say either won. Seems like a tie? But yes, gpu lopsided to NV. I think we'd need Denver in a chromebook before you could say these statements for sure correct? You talk as if there is only ONE version of K1. There's only one version in a chromebook, but it's incorrect to say faster than both K1 versions here. Maybe I'd feel better about the statement if you called it 32bit K1 in this context. I can see you're talking chromebooks, but people may not get that denver simply can't be bought yet in one (or at least note that when saying it). We'll probably see an x1 based chromebook before denver again but still...Since I don't think it will be back until 14nm samsung version that is.

    You compare the cpu to apples A8x, so why are you not mentioning the 64bit Denver version of K1 in Nexus9? Apple isn't a chromebook either, but is lopped in the cpu talk. If you hadn't done that, it would be clear you're not comparing cpus from tablets and chromebooks. But with apple you ARE adding tablet cpus to the talk, so why not nexus 9's K1?
  • JarredWalton - Sunday, February 15, 2015 - link

    Technically the Nexus 9 is the Tegra K1-64, or more commonly referred to as Denver. Of course, Denver has its own pros and cons, with performance sometimes being quite a bit slower due to the way the binary translation works. I'm not super hung up on which CPU is fastest by 5-10%; it's merely interesting to see Bay Trail Atom doing reasonably well. K1-32 and A8X are both more power efficient however, which is at least as important as raw performance.

    But you're missing the real point, which is that as slow as the N2840 is, it's as fast as (faster than) the top smartphone SoCs. And yet the slowest Haswell-U processor runs circles around N2840. And the 2955U does that without really sacrificing a lot of battery life. I'm super interested in the 3205U, as you might guess.
  • LazarusNine - Friday, February 13, 2015 - link

    @JarredWalton Excellent review. Informative and useful for comparison. I would very much like to see a review of the Windows 'chromebook', the Acer ES1-111M, or one of its variants. It is very similar to the HP Stream 11, but with upgradeable RAM, it makes for an interesting contender in the sub $200 range.
  • benelux - Saturday, February 14, 2015 - link

    This was a really nice article, thanks. Would you mind providing the vintage of your benchmark results? That 5440 Octane score for the HP Chromebook 11 looks dated. My girlfriend's HP Chromebook 11-1101 is on Chrome 41 the current beta release. I get octane scores that average around 6800 on it. My 2013 Samsung Chromebook X303C12 has very similar hardware. It has the same SOC, the same display resolution, and the same 2G ram and 16 GB SSD. My Samsung is on Chrome 40 stable. It has Octane scores above 6400.
    I realize you might not have all the devices lying around to retest, but if you could indicate when a test was done and on what release that would be great. Chrome OS is very much a moving target. My Samsung Chromebook had Octane scores in the mid-3000 range when it came out in Q4 2013. Now it's in the mid-6s.
  • benelux - Saturday, February 14, 2015 - link

    Correction: the Samsung Chromebook came out in fall 2012, not 2013.
  • JarredWalton - Sunday, February 15, 2015 - link

    You're right: some of the scores are quite old. The only recent scores for Chromebooks are the two Acers (C720 and CB13) and the Toshiba; everything else is probably at least a year old. I hope to retire some of the results soon and replace them with more recent offerings.
  • realwarder - Monday, February 16, 2015 - link

    Is this a paid article? It sounds very pro-Chrome OS, which given the severe limitations of that OS seem to skip over that completely and even mention it as a benefit.

    Given that an end-user are basically buying a web browser with no ability to do simple things like print or work offline, it's a lot of money for a pretty worthless PC. It only has 16GB storage (or whatever is left of that).

    There are cheaper and more capable PCs around these days running Windows that provide so much more functionality. If all you do want is a portable web browser, there are many tablets that provide more for less too.
  • JarredWalton - Monday, February 16, 2015 - link

    The Windows alternatives have garbage displays, and while you *can* run the stripped down version of Windows on 32GB of storage, it's not comfortable to do so. Chrome OS also boots faster and stays peppier than Windows in general with limited resources. It's so far the best Chromebook in my opinion, but would I personally want to do all my work on it? No, because Chrome OS has plenty of limitations. I covered those extensively in a previous article, and rather than trot out the same content every time I just link back to the relevant review. Like this:
  • Christopher1 - Tuesday, February 17, 2015 - link

    Chrome OS is a waste. It is not as 'fully featured' as Windows 8.1 even and is not able to do a lot of the things that Windows 8.1 can do.
    Such as full-featured multimedia viewing. Such as even low-end ACDSee Pro-esque photo viewing and editing.
    Need I keep on going? Chrome OS is a toy to the most 'in the know' out there today and just is not going to overtake even iOS for most people.
    Give me a cheap 400 dollar Windows laptop for each of my children and they are pretty much golden.
    It can do nearly ANYTHING save for high-end, last 5 year AAA gaming.

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