This, my lightbook-loving friends, is going to be a big seller in Q4 of 2014. The Toshiba CB35-B3340 is a 13.3-inch laptop with a full-HD screen, SSD, Skull Candy speakers, a 51 Wh battery and it weighs just 3 pounds – 1.36KG. The price? $330. It’s a nice product for entry-level consumers but it’s a problem for Microsoft.
The Toshiba CB35-B3340 is a Chromebook and Chromebooks based on a Baytrail-M SoC with just 16GB of SSD are cheap to produce but this one from Toshiba is well-designed, has a good keyboard and is the best I saw over the last month of touring IFA and IDF events. Skull Candy speakers hint at a consumer-focus and not classroom-focus but Toshiba hasn’t cut corners on battery life or ports. This Chromebook will give you 9 hours of usage, say Toshiba. I understand it has a 51Wh battery inside so I don’t doubt that. In fact, i’d expect over 10 hours of offline video viewing.
The question is, why can’t this be a Windows laptop? Well, Toshiba have a similar product in the CL-10B (video) but at 11.6-inch it’s not the same. The reason could be that a lot of similar-sounding products in the Windows laptop market are selling for $700 or more. Given that a Windows with Bing license costs nothing I can’t see any reason that this can’t be a Windows laptop other than product separation. That could be an issue for Microsoft because Chromebooks just took 18% of the sub $300 laptop category. In the $300-$400 space this Chromebook is a bargain.
Windows 8 tablets are racing to the bottom in price and specs, Ultrabooks are fading away and cheap Windows laptops have positioning to contend with. The 2-in-1 segment will get a boost from Core M soon but it won’t take effect until 2015. With no word on Cherry Trail products, it looks like it will be a very very tough quarter for Microsoft.