Google Chromebook Pixel review

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The Chromebook Pixel was always supposed to show off the best and the latest that Google can offer and the new Pixel is no exception, with improved screen, processor, battery and a new type of power connection. But is all that enough to justify its high price tag?

The new Chromebook Pixel looks pretty much the same as the last, although it’s certainly different from most Chromebooks, with its sleek aluminium body rather than cheap ‘n’ cheerful plastic casing. It’s certainly attractive, the silvery surface broken only by the distinctive four-colour LED strip near the edge of the lid. It’s perhaps on the heavy side at 1.5kg, but nothing too distressing, and it’s about a millimetre thinner than the original, though still a far from svelte 5mm.

SCREEN AND CHASSIS

The notebook is available in two varieties — an Intel Core i5 version with 8GB of RAM (which is bumped up from the original’s 4GB) and a Core i7 ‘LS’ version with 16GB of RAM and 32GB storage. Both models use Intel’s HD Graphics 5500 graphics card and Google says the ‘LS’ stands for ‘ludicrous speed’, in case you were wondering.

Both models are Wi-Fi only, with no option to add a SIM card so you can keep connected on the move, which will make them limiting for some. Google’s reasoning is that most people tend to tether to their phones anyway, and that there’s little need for an in-built connectivity alternative. This is probably true these days but with the Chrome OS being so dependent on internet access, it seems a shame the option isn’t there.

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Around the sides are a couple of USB 3.0 ports, but this is also the first device we’ve seen — aside form the new MacBook — with the new USB Type-C socket, which allows you to transfer power and data, as well as powering a high-resolution display with just one port. It’s the beginning of a new industry standard that can handle up to 5Gbps data, as well as incorporating a 4K display — presuming you have an HDMI or DisplayPort adapter. It can also offer up to 60W charging. Over the next couple of years we should be seeing virtually all laptops as well as mobiles adopting this standard, which will be great for cutting down on the amount of chargers you need to carry.

The 12.9-inch touch screen is a joy, offering a higher-than-HD resolution of 2,560×1,700 pixels, which boils down to an impressive 239ppi. Viewing angles are pleasingly broad too and we found we could see it clearly from almost side on. The keyboard tiles are nicely spaced and responsive, although there’s still no Caps lock, and there’s a big, sensitive touchpad too.

SOFTWARE AND PROCESSOR

Inside, the processing power on the basic model has been beefed up with an Intel Core i5 processor backed by 8GB RAM and that gives it a decent amount of grunt for day-to-day tasks. It also means it shouldn’t heat up as dramatically as its predecessor, though there are now two fans to help it cope if it does.

Battery life has been seriously enhanced too. Instead of the five hours or so promised by the original, Google reckons the new one can do up to 12 hours, though we only managed a little over ten in our test. It juices up quickly too — two hours in about 15 minutes and full power in about an hour and a half.

CONCLUSION

The Google Chromebook Pixel is pretty much state of the art as far as Chromebooks go. It’s fast, with great battery life and a terrific screen, and if you’re already tied into the Google universe then it’s as good as it gets, albeit with a price to match.

Specifications

Software
Google Chrome OS
Processor
2.2GHz Intel Core i5 or2.4GHz Intel Core i7
Memory
8GB or 16GB RAM
Display
12.9in, 2560 x1700pixels
Hard Drive
32GB or 64GB SSD
Graphics
Intel HD Graphics5500
Webcam
Front-facing 720p wide angleHD webcam (1,280×720 pixels)
Wireless
Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac,Bluetooth 4.0
Ports
2x USB Type-C, 2x USB 3.0,headphone/microphone jack, SD card slot
Blu-ray player
No
Size
298x225x15mm
Weight
1.5kg

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