Google Chromebook Pixel review
Well, buckle up, take a coffee sip ‘cause it’s that time of the year again! It’s the time when Chromebook becomes interesting, exciting and, wait for it … cutting edge! We bring your (drum rolls) the Google Chromebook Pixel review!
Yup, the Google Chromebook Pixel took us all (relatively) by surprise. We knew that Google was brewing something special, and we were looking forward to more info on the Google Glass project for our does of Google high tech, but a Chromebook to actually rival a MacBook Air? Well, they did do it this time. Before we offer you our wholehearted impression of the machine, let’s first dive deep into the specifications of this paradigm shifting laptop.
Display size: 12.85 inches, at a 3.2 aspect ratio. (Great for web navigation, for coding, for native HD content 1080P). Also, the screen is multi touch sensitive and protected by Gorilla glass
Display Resolution: 2560 x 1700 at 239 PPI density
Width: 297 inches
Depth: 224 inches
Height: 16.2 inches
Weight: 3.3 lbs/ 1.52 kg. Very light actually, considering its size. Also, very well balanced, the center of gravity runs almost central to its mathematical diagonal center, when closed.
Chassis and ports:
Google’s Chromebook Pixel says bye-bye to plastics, as the body is all anodized aluminum, machine produced. The shape, which is very simple, with few lines to “personalize” it gives it a very professional, sleek look. To top it all off, while the laptop has an active cooling system, it has no visible exhaust or intake protruding through the case
Webcam: yes, 720P HD camera
Microphone: built in multi point microphone array with DPS noise cancelation
Speakers: clear speakers, with relatively low volume. However the sound quality is impressive
USB: 2 USB 2.0
Mini display port: yes, 1
Card reader: yes, SD/MMC car reader combo
Headphones jack: yes, Combo headphone and mic jack
Wireless: Wi-Fi 802.11a/b/g/n 2×2
4G: yes, with the integrated LTE modem (comes only with the more expensive LTE model)
Keyboard and trackpad:
Keyboard: QWERTY with the usual Chrome specific keys, also backlit
Trackpad: yes, Gorilla Glass, clickable
Internal hardware and display specifications
Processor: Intel Core i5 – 3427U – dual core processor running at 1.8 GHZ
Memory: 4 GB DDR3 running at 1600 MHz
Graphics Chip: Intel HD Graphics 4000, integrated on the CPU. One of the most powerful CPU integrated video chips available at the moment.
Storage: 32 GB base model, 64GB for the LTE model
Battery: 59 WH battery pack, probably 6 cells (not specified). Google offers a 5 hour active use, regardless of applications. For light use you can get up to 8 hours of continuous running.
Display: LED screen with a 178 inches viewing angle and 400 nits brightness maximum. Clear, no shadowing, great color depth and very easy on the eyes.
Chromebook Pixel review and conclusions
Without question, the Chromebook Pixel is the most powerful Chromebook produced so far. The body is exquisitely machined from aluminum on top of which the screen stands tall protected by Gorilla Glass. You can multi-tap on the screen or you can use the generous pad which also offers the same comfortable and precise feel of the screen.
If anything, the only thing to reproach this beast is the pricing:
The basic model which comes with a 32 GB SSD local storage and 3G connectivity only will set you back $1299. However, you also get 1TB of storage in Google’s Drive so you’ll probably never run out of space.
The LTE model is a bit more expensive at $1449 but you get 64GB local storage and also the 4G connection for even faster uploads and downloads. Other than that, the specs coincide for the 2 models.
But, definitely, the paradigm shift for the model comes with its screen. Of course, it’s nothing new, if you think of Apple’s offerings for its current line of MacBook airs and its retina offering for the iPads and the iPhones. However, Google ups the ante with complete multi-touch interface. What does it mean to the end-user?
It means that a whole new world of applications can be used, drawing, editing, 3D sculpting, etc, without the need for another input device. You get a highly sophisticated and highly responsive screen which can turn your laptop into one powerful productivity rig.
The 3:2 aspect ratio
While at first some might neglect to see why this is so important, this less than usual aspect ratio, compared with the more common 16/9, 16/10 offers much more vertical real estate. This again will satisfy those that are looking for a productivity boost, as this aspect ratio is great for browsing, for a large host of productivity applications, while having no negative effect for movie watching or for games.
Simplicity and sleekness have been the ideas onto which Google has based its design. The laptop has no particularities, no evident “features”. There are no screws to be seen, no exhaust for the cooling system. Even the speakers don’t have any etching on the surface of the laptop, being hidden within the keyboard.
In fact, you won’t even see any inscriptions, not even any laser etching on the surface of the Chromebook Pixel and this adds a lot of class and a lot of style to the overall design. Only when the Chromebook is closed you can read a small inscription – “Chrome” on the back of the device but it is inlayed within the bezel so it doesn’t scream for your attention. However, in spite of its simple, almost non-descript design you will recognize it immediately as the very finely smooth edges give it a personality of its own, so you won’t ever confuse it with a Mac Book air or with some other laptops.
In terms of internal specifications, the Chromebook Pixel is a very powerful machine. The mobile Core i5 – 3427U processor is capable of running multiple threads without any issues. Multitasking is suddenly a joy and also, if you want to edit photos, or even videos, you can do it without issues. Sure, this is not a workstation replacement, but, for a mobile device under 2 kg it does an overwhelmingly good job.
As we mentioned, given its multi-touch display it is very easy to produce drawings or other materials by using your fingers on the screen. This is done smoothly, without issues, and it puts the Chromebook Pixel in a very particular niche of laptops which offer the most diverse of input methods.
The graphics chip is also powerful enough; the Intel HD Graphics 4000 can be used as a good gaming graphics accelerator, though it’s not going to rival discrete video cards. However, when it comes to quality Blue Ray quality video it simply doesn’t pose any issues.
Paradigm shift in the Chromebook environment
If the Google Chromebook pixel will catch on, the ripples that it will make will most likely turn the way most people look at Chrome. Up until the Pixel most people saw the Chrome environment as an experimental environment/low budget alternative to the Windows netbooks.
From now on, if other hardware developers will jump on the bandwagon, we could start to see a real competition between Apple and Google. The competition is already under way in the realm of smart phones, so, from a business perspective, the Pixel can also be seen as an attempt to offer an alternative to those that want a sleek and powerful laptop in the MacBook air region.
The price definitely feels right to us, at $1300 it offers great specs and a great design that finally offers an alternative to those that would go directly to Apple. The only bottleneck so far has got to be the OS itself, which up until now was never optimized for high pixel densities and for high resolutions. But, if there will be a following, the Chromebook operating system and hardware will begin to show its “teeth” in a market dominated by Apple.
So, ultimately, do we endorse and recommend the Google Pixel? We do, as the machine itself is flawless, performance wise and design wise. However, we hold our breath just because we still feel that the OS itself needs to mature and needs to become more powerful.
So, this is our recommendation so far: buy one if you’ve been a long time user of Chrome and are familiar with its restrictions and issues. If however, you’ve been on the Chrome bandwagon for a while, this might just be the expensive but powerful laptop for you – a great piece of machinery in an already growing OS environment.
As always, let us know what you think – do you feel that the Chromebook Pixel is an enticing purchase for you or you’d rather go for a lower entry model? Let us know in the comments section.