The Toshiba CB35-A3120 Chromebook ($299.99 list) is a 13.3-inch Chromebook made for the value-oriented, Internet-connected laptop user. If you’re in the market for a sub-$300 laptop, the CB35-A3120 is worth a long look. It’s great for surfing the Web, with full access to the entire Internet, not just the mobile-optimized sites as you would get on an iOS- or Android-based tablet. This clamshell-style laptop gives you the full keyboard needed for writing emails, memos, and term papers. A couple of nits keep it from our top honors, but regardless, the CB35-A3120 is still highly recommended.
Design and Features
The CB35-A3120 is a mid-sized laptop with a 13.3-inch, 1,366-by-768-resolution screen. The system measures approximately 9 by 13 by 0.8 inches (HWD). It weighs just over three pounds (3.17 lbs.), and is easy enough to transport in a commuter bag or student backpack. The Sunray Silver colored exterior is textured for a good grip. Open the lid and you’d swear you were looking at an Apple MacBook Air 13-inch. Well, at least until you get real close and notice that the Toshiba is plastic instead of aluminum.
The CB35-A3120 has a full-size, chiclet-style keyboard. The row of function keys on the top row has been replaced by Chrome-specific keys. Keys for immersive mode, overview mode, and search are going to be familiar to anyone who has owned a Chromebook, but new users will have to look up the icons online or in the user manual. The multi-touch trackpad below the keyboard reacts quickly to swipes and two finger taps.
The 13-inch screen isn’t touch enabled, unlike the 11.6-inch touch screen on the Editors’ Choice Acer Chromebook C720P-2600. Most Chromebooks, like the Acer C720P-2600, HP Chromebook 11, and Samsung Chromebook Series 3 (XE303C12) come with 11-inch screens. Though rarer, we’ve seen larger displays like the 14-inch display on the HP Pavilion Chromebook 14.
The quality of the CB35-A3120′s display is alright. While it is larger than the 11-inch models, it has the same 1,366 by 768 resolution, which means the screen can sometimes look blocky. We also saw some screen-door effect when viewed up close. Out of the pack, the HP Chromebook 11 has the brightest and clearest display, since it uses an IPS panel instead of the LED-backlit LCD panel all the other Chromebooks use.
The CB35-A3120 boots quickly and automatically when you open the lid, within 10 seconds from a cold start. If you use a password, the system is ready to accept it in the time it takes to open the lid and place the system on a flat surface. Since you’re logging in with a Google.com login, the system will grab your Chrome home page(s), bookmarks, and even plug-ins from your Google Chrome account on any other mobile device, Mac, or PC. If you’re a veteran Chromebook or Chromebox user, your environment will look exactly as it did on your last device, down to the wallpaper.
There are two USB 3.0 ports, an HDMI port, and a SD card slot that can accept SDXC and SDHC cards. The CB35-A3120 has a 16GB solid-state drive (SSD), standard for most Chromebooks. The Acer Chrombook C720P-2600, in contrast, comes with 32GB of local storage. All new Chromebooks come with 100GB of Google Drive online storage for two years, so if you’re online all the time you may not miss the extra space. The CB35-A3120 features dual-band (2.4GHz and 5GHz) 802.11 a/b/g/n Wi-Fi, but 3G/4G WWAN is not an option. The system comes with a one-year warranty.
The CB35-A3120 boots quickly and launches quickly, so you’re ready to go in seconds. Videos in 1080p and 720p HD streamed from the Web played smoothly, as well as off of USB 3.0 external drives and SD cards. If you’re on the Internet at all times, then the system works like any other PC or Mac using a Chrome browser. You can edit documents in Google Docs, download and play Angry Birds, and access Web-based programs easily. The system has 9.7GB free out of the 16GB onboard storage, so you don’t have a lot of space for offline files or programs. That said, if you absolutely need more storage, a 64GB SDXC card fits completely into the SD card slot.
Connecting to Google Drive is automatic, so you can use that resource as well. We didn’t even need to carry an external drive after syncing our music library to Google Play, and streaming video and music services worked quite well on the CB35-A3120′s display and reasonably loud speakers.
The system lasted 7 hours 10 minutes on our battery rundown test. This is very good for a Chromebook, since older systems last three hours (first-generation Acer C7 Chromebooks) to five hours (Samsung Series 3, HP Chromebook 11). This is due to the CB35-A3120′s larger battery and more power-efficient Intel Celeron 2995U processor. This is the same processor as in the Acer C720P-2600, which lasted 7:20. The CB35-A3120 should last most of the day away from a power plug.
The Toshiba CB35-A3120 Chromebook is a good choice for the general user who wants to give Chrome OS a try. If you have constant Internet access, the system can replace an aging Windows or Mac laptop easily. Its larger screen may be easier on the eyes than an 11-inch Chromebook, for the same price. However, the Acer Chromebook C720P-2600 remains our Editors’ Choice for Chromebooks, due to its larger built-in storage, smaller and lighter chassis, and clearer touch screen.
|Processor Name||Intel Celeron 2955U|
|Operating System||Google Chrome OS|
|Graphics Card||Intel HD Graphics|
|Networking Options||802.11n (2.4+5 GHz Dualband)|
|Processor Speed||1.4 GHz|
|Storage Capacity (as Tested)||16 GB|
Copyright © 2012 Ziff Davis, Inc