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Summary:

I’ve been using a Chromebook Pixel for the past two days and a single phrase comes to mind: blown away. Is it worth $1,299 or more? Take a look to see and then stack it up against your mobile computing needs.

Two-Pixels

Perhaps I’ve been a Google Chromebook user for too long now because I’m nearly sold on the new Chromebook Pixel. I know it sounds crazy — who would pay $1,299 for a laptop that you can’t install software on — but anyone using a Chrome OS device today would be blown away by this machine. Simply put: It runs rings around all of the prior Chromebooks and is exceptionally better in every way.

Here’s a quick tour of the hardware including that 4.3 million pixel display. We have a 15-inch MacBook Pro Retina Display in the house and to my eyes, the screen of the Chromebook Pixel looks even better although that’s hard to translate in a video. The internal speakers are outstanding as well as I tried to demonstrate on camera. Unfortunately, my video camera is “smart” enough to level out the sound, so you’ll have to take my word for it.

Outside of the occasional podcast and video production, I have little doubt the Pixel could fulfill all of my mobile computing needs. And it would be a joy to use one of them as well thanks to the Intel Core i5 chip and 4 GB of memory; bench-marking Chrome shows a four- to five-fold performance boost over the Samsung Series 5 550 Chromebook I bought last year.

It’s even slightly faster than Chrome on my similarly spec’d MacBook Air. And unlike most other Chromebooks, no corners were cut: The Pixel’s design and build quality is top notch from the backlit keyboard to piano hinge that doubles as a heat sink.

  1. WeVideo doesn’t meet your video editing needs?

    1. I haven’t used it yet so perhaps I’ll give it a try although I don’t want to spend a monthly fee just to edit video. The other potential challenge: will it accept the video format from my video camera? I’ll have to check on that but thanks for the suggestion!

      1. Check out YouTube’s built-in video editing features as well – you might be pleasantly surprised. You can also record to YouTube directly from the Chromebook’s webcam.

      2. Kevin, it accepts most video formats minus red and Ari raw. The service is free. Exports with watermark are free to a limit. I’m Director of pr, do email me please, pr “at” wevideo “dot com”

      3. I was going to mention the same thing that Earl said, but I’ll add that I think that Google is getting really serious about adding functionality to the YT editor now that Chromebooks are getting more popular.

  2. That’s Madrid from the Circulo de Bellas Artes terrace :)

  3. The whole justification of the Chromebook in my mind is that it was a decent cheap disposable laptop. If your traveling and need a decent machine on the road the Chromebook works out nicely. If it’s lost or stolen it really doesn’t matter too much as it’s all in the cloud anyways. Or if you are working on industrial controllers in the field and need a terminal screen with a USB to RS232 adapter and would hate to drop a real expensive laptop in the field the Chromebook would be the way to go. The only way I can see this taking off is if you can load things other than Chromebook on it and it develops a cult following as Chromebook is too limiting for something at this price. But that’s just my opinion. I guess Google just want’s to expedite the already accelerating post PC era. Throw everything and the kitchen sink at em and something is bound to stick. I guess no time like the present to kick Dell and HP in the shins. Just like Winston we must all learn to love the Google.

    1. Cheap and disposable is just one justification for Chromebooks.

      Another is the Zero Maintenance, Zero Touch aspect and the sub 10 sec boot and instant on/off features.

      Another is the ultra mobility you get from the ethereal nature of Chrome OS – you can access all your Chromebook data, and apps on any computing device with a browser, and if you can install a Chrome browser on it, you get the same UI, settings and preferences on all the devices as well. You can do work on a Chromebook, get your entire Chromebook environment on your Office PC, your home Macbook, your smartphone, iPad or Android tablet, and you get all your apps as well on all devices – not just the data.

      If your time is worth money, then it may be worth spending on it. Don’t forget also that people are prepared to pay more for Apple Macbooks although they can do less than Windows Ultrabooks in terms of apps because they are easier and more pleasant to use and has higher build quality. The Chromebook Pixel is even more Apple Macbook like in these respects than the Apple Macbooks. Personally I wouldn’t pay the $1200 being asked for the Pixel, but then I wouldn’t pay that much for a Macbook or Windows Surface Pro Ultrabook either, but there are many people who would.

    2. The RS232 thing doesn’t apply so much these days except if you are going to sites that haven’t upgraded anything. Antaira and other companies sell serial converters that make carrying a laptop into the field a thing of the past. Spending $200 to network a $20,000 piece of equipment pays for itself quickly.

      However, I have seen service people plug in directly and they typically use a milspec laptop (Panasonic, General Dynamics, etc.) or at least a semi-rugged Lenovo. I don’t see Chromebook fitting into this scenario unless serial converters and dedicated controller computers are already in place.

      1. It has USB, from there you can get USB -> serial, SPI, TTL serial, etc… so you’re good to go for debugging. Since it’s unix based you can do anything with it. But if the question is would an organization replace their laptops with these ? perhaps in the future, but only if it saves the money. A $500 pc works just as well. These things may take off more for individuals.

        Unless I’m overestimating people’s affinity for full featured PCs, I can’t see the usecase unless the chromebook is CHEAP. But laptops are already cheap. What is potentially nice is that the license to run chrome OS is implicit with owning a chromebook. But I don’t know if that’s reality.

  4. Would you mind posting video of the Chromebook’s startup and shutdown? I imagine it must be extraordinarily fast with the Ivy Bridge processor, but I can’t seem to find video with which to time it anywhere.

    1. Hi Nate – I just tried this on my Pixel, and it was five seconds from hitting the power button to login screen.

  5. Thanks for the review, Kevin. I’ve always been a fan of Chromebooks and currently own a Samsung Series 5 550 but the hardware felt too cheap to be enjoyable using as much as I’d have liked, so I bought a base 15” rMBP a few months later. As someone who finds the chrome book to be the perfect complement to my full desktop PC and someone who doesn’t use native applications often on my laptop, what do you think, if you were me would sell the rMBP and get the Chromebook Pixel? How does the responsiveness of the chrome browser on the rMBP in your studio compare to the Pixel? The rMBP has more RAM and the faster processor but the pixel has the lighter OS… I can live in the chrome browser when I’m on the go easily, but I don’t want to take a step backwards in the experience of the rMBP Chrome browser and hardware.

  6. How good is the battery life?

  7. As a high school senior, college-bound, do you think this is an economic use of 1.3 to 1.5 k, or if you were me, would you go with a cheaper or greatly-varied device.
    Nice review btw

  8. Could it Play java Base applications? i.e. Minecraft in browser? Could ANY chromebook do that?

  9. Thank you for the review. But I wanted to point out that around 4:28, when you speak about the 15″ Macbook Pro with Retina display, there was a slight misstatement. As far as I can tell, the 13″ inch Macbook Pro with Retina model has fewer pixels and less pixel density than the Chromebook Pixel–the model it would naturally be measured against, I guess. But while the 15″ has less pixel density, it has more pixels–2880 by 1800.

  10. Great review! I like this device hope to see it one day in Israel too.

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