Review: Google Chromebook Pixel

12 Mar 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Google Chromebook Pixel 2 review round up: gorgeous, powerful, but still just Chrome.

The recently launched Google Store offers phones, tablets, Chromebooks and new products such as Android Wear along with accessories including cases, keyboards and chargers. “We’ve been selling our devices on Google Play for years, but as we’ve added more products to the family, we thought it was time to make it easier for you to learn more about them,” Andrew Bowers, Director of Consumer Hardware wrote in a blogpost. The Chromebook Pixel computer, a made-by-Google exercise in staggering specs, was first released in 2013 as the top-of-the-line Chromebook, a laptop that runs Google’s Chrome operating system. It is faster than its predecessor and has a high resolution screen but it raises the question: does anyone really want to pay £800 for a glorified web browser. The original Pixel included mostly top-of-the-line technology and some indulgent impracticalities, like an extremely high-resolution multitouch display.

Google’s Chromebooks are designed to be a fast, cheap, portal to the internet costing under £250 and providing a browsing experience far better than similarly priced PCs. And Google’s laptop – an update to the first Pixel released about two years ago – packs the same new connector technology as the MacBook, referred to as USB-C. Other features that Google is touting include the latest, fifth generation, Intel Core processor, a high-resolution (2,560 x 1,700) 12.85-inch touch display, and up to 12 hours of battery life – not unlike the specs that Apple touted on Monday (Apple’s new MacBook has a high-res display and claims all-day battery life.) In addition to the standard model, Google is offering what it calls an LS version (LS stands for “Ludicrous Speed”) “that’s even faster,” Bowers wrote. The launch of the Google Store came on the same day as Apple dealt with its iTunes and App Store was offline for nearly 12 hours due to an internal domain name system error, according to CNET. The new Pixel is cheaper, faster and comes with the new USB type-C port, but essentially offers the same conundrum: who should you buy a £800 Chromebook?

That’s a novelty that you’ll rarely use, unless you need to pinch and zoom, in which case it’s unbelievably useful. (But then you’ll need to immediately reach for a chamois to wipe down the display.) In terms of speed and power, the Pixel is impressive, to say the least. The visibility is so good, in fact, that when my seatmate on a recent flight asked me to open the window shade, I could make out the contents of the screen, even with sunlight streaming in next to me. That means it requires an Internet connection for most tasks but bootup is almost instantaneous and the OS does automatic updates, backups, and virus protection in the background. David Pierce writing for Wired explained that the Pixel 2 makes compromises on software not on hardware, but that is the point of Google’s Chrome OS.

It is, by Google’s own admission, a device meant to test and demonstrate improvements that could eventually find their way into cheaper Chromebooks — whether those are outward-facing hardware improvements like better trackpads or power efficiencies that lead to longer battery life. In the case of the second-generation Pixel, the big, flashy proof-of-concept feature is its all-in-one connection port, known as USB Type-C (try typing that without a caps lock key). The new Chromebook Pixel is an improvement over its predecessor in every important way—it’s the best kind of upgrade, the kind that keeps what worked about the previous model and upgrades everything else.

USB Type-C plugs are reversible, so you can’t insert them the wrong way, which means they last longer than previous connectors, which tend to get damaged from repeatedly being shoved in the wrong way. That means that if, as Apple, Google and many other companies are hoping, USB Type-C eventually becomes standard across the industry, you could use the same charger to power any phone, any tablet and even any laptop. If you are looking for a minimalist laptop that requires an odd little collection of adapters and dongles, the new MacBook is a heck of a lot lighter and, hey, it comes in gold.

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