Plenty of very good Chromebooks were released in 2014 -- but one stands out above the others.
There were a lot of worthy competitors, given the Chromebook explosion. Samsung, Toshiba, Dell, Acer, Asus and others all brought out some great machines. Even Google got into the act, with its expensive Google Chromebook Pixel.
When choosing the best Chromebook of the year, I took into account price, features, and performance. That rules out the Pixel, which will put you back $1,299, about $1,000 more than many very good Chromebooks. Despite its great screen, 4GB of RAM and great design, it's simply not worth the money.
So which is the best? It's clearly the Toshiba Chromebook 2. For its specs, overall build and features, you can't do better. At $330, it's quite affordable -- and the 13.3-inch 1080p IPS screen is a beautiful display that you'd expect from a much more expensive machine. (Note: There are two versions of the Toshiba Chromebook 2, a $249 version with a 1366 x 768 screen, and the 1920 x 1080-pixel 1080p version for $330. The more expensive one is the one to buy.) Not only are the colors bright and bold, but it has a wide viewing angle. This is a Chromebook that you can truly use for watching videos as well as for work.
It's also got great Skullcandy speakers that you certainly don't expect on a Chromebook, and certainly not one in the low $300 range. So it's great for listening to music as well as watching videos.
Unlike many other Chrombooks, it comes with a full 4GB of RAM, which is important because its processor, like many Chromebook processors, won't knock your socks off. But the 4 GB of RAM gives the machine enough oomph to make up for that.
Beyond all that, it's well designed, sleek, solid, and sturdy. The keyboard is chiclet style with well-spaced keys that makes typing easy. The trackpad isn't spectacular, but works fine.
The bottom line? All in all, if you're looking for the best balance between price, performance, and design, the Toshiba Chromebook 2 is the Chromebook of the year.
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