Chromebook Pixel

The Pixel takes cloud computing to the next level — but the price should make you think twice before buying

Meet the Pixel. It's beautiful, powerful, filled with the tools the next-generation of the web will need, but it "just" runs Chrome OS. That's the general consensus of everyone with a platform to speak their mind about Google's newest Chromebook, and for the most part it rings true.

It's a beautiful machine. Quite frankly, it's surprising to see Google deliver something this well built and designed, because we're used to more budget-friendly gear from our Mountain View friends. But you need to understand -- this isn't your typical laptop. It's something completely different for most of us. For some, it's going to be the perfect portable computer, but for others it's going to leave you wanting more than Chrome OS can deliver.

It also checks in at $1,300 ($1,450 for the LTE version), so it's something you're not likely to buy on an impulse. That's what tech-reviews are for.

Read on and see the good, the bad, and the ugly that goes with owning a Chromebook Pixel.

Join the discussion in the Chromebook Pixel Forums

The video walkthrough

Hopefully, this gives you a good look at how well built and designed this thing is. If you like what you see here, visit a Best Buy or other retailer that has one in stock to demo. It's $1,300 dollars -- do more than watch a short video.

The hardware

Chromebook Pixel

The Pixel's one of the nicest laptops you'll ever see or use. The body and back of the LCD are made from a block of machined anodized aluminum, and every detail was addressed. The screws are hidden under the rubber feet, the vent is designed into the hinge where you'll never notice it, the ports are precision cut. Even the speakers are tucked away, hidden underneath an excellent chiclet keyboard with backlit-characters. There are no logos save for the word Chrome above the keyboard and etched into one of the hinges, and the lid is adorned with a multicolored LED bar near the slot where you open the laptop. The trackpad is covered in glass, and even seasoned laptop veterans used to the trackpad that Apple offers will tell you it's incredibly responsive and a pleasure to use. From the minute you pick the Pixel up you can see and feel the work that went into building each unit. 

Weighing in at 3.35 pounds, the pixel is not the lightest ultra-portable you'll find. In fact, even the cheaper (and more realistically priced) Samsung Chromebook weighs in about a full pound lighter. That sleek aluminum body is also made of material that's heavy, and there's a big heat sink to factor in. A similarly outfitted MacBook Air weighs in at 2.96 pounds. If you need to cut every ounce, this matters. The 6.4 extra ounces are well used though, as the slightly thicker (than the MacBook) screen is no normal LCD.

Pixel specs

Tech specs direct from Google Play

The high-end build of the Pixel is fitting for the screen. Checking in at 12.85-inches, with a resolution of 2560 x 1700 (239 ppi), a viewing angle of 178 degrees, and a 400 nit extra bright backlight make it the best laptop display (on paper) you've ever used. Our unit renders color beautifully, and is crystal clear. I can't say how much better it is than the retina MacBook display, because unless you start talking specs you won't notice any difference in the quality. Yes, it's that good.

It's more than a pretty face though, The screen also has a full multi-touch digitizer under the Gorilla Glass panel front. Like the trackpad, the touchscreen hardware performs wonderfully -- even if the software doesn't. You'll have it smudged and covered with fingerprints before you know it. Do you need a touchscreen on a device like the Pixel? Not right now. But as the web converges the tablet and "desktop" experience you will soon. All those touchscreen Windows 8 laptops will force it, and as software like Chrome for Android and Safari on iOS get more powerful, we'll eventually reach a point where a touchscreen is a must-have for web apps.

Pixels on the Pixel

If that weren't enough, Google also screwed around with the tried and true 16:9 laptop display aspect ratio that we're all used to. The Pixel has a 3:2 aspect ratio that Google calls it "designed for the web." After a week with the Pixel I have to agree. The extra vertical space of the screen makes a huge difference when surfing the web. Many pages are designed to scale horizontally, but scrolling down to see the rest of the page is something we all know about. With the Pixel, you're doing a lot less of it. Pictures can take better advantage of the screen by filling the available area more. Google got this right, and it really is perfect for the web.

All in all, the screen spoils you. You can't unsee the effect the resolution has on text and pictures, the 3:2 aspect ratio works so well, and the added bonus of a full multi-touch display means you'll hate the screen on every other laptop after using the Pixel. When you factor just how nice the keyboard and touchpad is, and the excellent way it's all put together, you see why it costs $1,300.

Chrome OS

Chrome OS

To the uninitiated, Chrome OS looks and acts just like Chrome on our Windows, Mac OS, or Linux desktop. To the folks who use it every day, it still looks and acts just like Chrome on the desktop. Google has turned the Chrome browser into a platform, has created APIs for developers, and is providing a simple client that uses it all to connect to the web where all the hard data is stored, and the magic happens. You want there to be some sort of special secret to Chrome OS that makes it different from the Chrome browser, but there isn't one. For all intents and purposes, Chrome is Chrome. And that's a good thing.

The same extensions and apps that run on the desktop browser also run on Chrome OS. There is a rudimentary desktop and Launcher bar, but other than a place to show a pretty wallpaper, there is nothing there that doesn't appear on the new tab screen you're used to in your browser. 

Chrome OS Launcher

The launcher tray holds shortcuts to Google's Gmail, search, Youtube, and the browser itself. When you select any of them, or any of the web apps you're installed, they open in the current browser session or in a new one if you don't have one running. An exception to this is Google Talk, which uses its own container window. This is not a good thing. When a new IM comes in, it either minimizes what you're currently doing and the small Google Talk window steals focus, or it opens in the background and you have no idea a message came in at all. Hopefully, this will be addressed with the unified message panel we've seen in developer builds of Chromium.

Google Talk on the Chromebook Pixel
This is not effective use of screen real estate.

I mentioned before that Chrome OS was limited to the web. That doesn't mean you can't be productive with it though. There are many "light" apps in the Chrome store that can handle a lot of your day to day workflow. And with a little adjustment, plenty of folks will find they really can be productive. I'm a freelance developer, and a blogger. I make my money with a keyboard, a camera, and a calculator. If I were still sitting in an office working with CAD files and engineering tools, the Pixel would not be able to handle it. Even today, if I want to compile any code, or plug something in and work on it or with it, I have to move away from the Pixel by either using remote desktop software or actually getting out my other laptop. Here's an example of some of the tools I found in the Chrome store to help me along.

  • imo Messenger seems to be the best way to use Skype in Chrome OS. Yes, Google has voice "chat" and it works very well on the Pixel. My colleagues use Skype, so I either use it as well or stay out of the loop on everything.
  • Scratchpad is a great cloud based note app that comes installed on the Pixel. After using it to paste all those snippets of text or links you need just once, I installed it on my other laptop and my desktop.
  • Extreme Image Converter is a quick way to resize an image. We do that a lot here, so a dedicated app that does it fast with no fuss is handy. Extreme Image Converter does just that, despite the promise of something extreme.
  • Pixlr Editor is a surprisingly nice Gimp or Photoshop stand-in. It's nowhere near as powerful with the hardcore stuff, but for the image editing most of us do, it works great.
  • Fieldrunners is a fun tower defense game that also available for Android. It fits the bill when I need to just chill for a few minutes during the day. 
  • Finally, Chrome Remote Desktop is an easy, cross-platform way to control a desktop computer from your Pixel via the Chrome browser. Do what you need to do, just like you were working at your desktop, then put the finished product in your Google Drive.

Chrome Remote Desktop

Of course, you also have a full set of Google services at your disposal. If you're "all-in" with Google, you'll appreciate the way everything syncs up with a single sign-in -- just like your Android phone or tablet.

Now that you know what Chrome OS is, and how it works, you might ask "why bother? You can just install Chrome browser and get the exact same experience." That's mostly true, but Chrome OS does offer one thing that's pretty unique -- everything is in the cloud, stored in your Google account. If you pick up my Pixel, sign in with your Google account, everything is set up just the way you like it. When you sign out and I sign back in, it's all me again. That makes it perfect for a shared computer.

It's also pretty secure. You don't have to worry about malware from the web automagically installing itself, and it keeps itself secure and up to date on it's own, checking for updates every time you turn it on. 

Even if you have no intentions of every buying a Chromebook, if you're just a little nerdy and curious it's worthwhile to install it in a VM and see how it works. There's something to be said for this much simplicity.

Using the Pixel

Chromebook Pixel

We've talked about how well built the Pixel is, and why it costs so much to make it. And we've seen the limitations of Chrome OS. Here's where the thinking part comes into play. How does it handle the day-to-day routine that the laptop you're using now does? That's the real question, after all. 

I have used the Pixel exclusively for about 10 days. I had to turn on my "other" laptop once to do some work in Lightroom, because I was in a hurry and my camera was set to shoot RAW pictures. There's no way to handle those on Chrome OS. There are plenty of online image editors, and the built-in editor from the file manager can handle small tasks like cropping, renaming, and rotating, but if you need something like Lightroom or Photoshop, you're out of luck.

The same goes for things like writing and compiling code, 3D modeling, or anything "complicated". Online IDEs and Google Drive work, and so do online image editors, though they are far from ideal in their current state. For many things, that many of us will need to do, the Pixel is not the best choice to do them with.

A few other niggles I have with the Pixel:

  • There is no delete key. You're stuck using the directional arrow keys and the backspace button. This is a big enough issue that it gets its own line in my list.
  • There are no home, end, and insert keys. If you use these when writing documents like I do, you'll soon realize how much you miss them.
  • Google Talk is a mess on Chrome OS. I use Google Talk/chat every day, and the way notifications are handled is terrible. If you've tried to chat with me the past week or so, I probably missed it. Hopefully, the talk of a unified Google notification system is true and comes soon.
  • There is no good way to use Skype. The online services you see in the Chrome app store are a decent enough substitute, but they are all limited in one way or another. 
  • Using Dropbox via the web page sucks. It sucks a lot.
  • I wish the battery life were better. The 5-hour estimate is pretty damn close to the mark. 

If you used a Pixel for 10 days, you would have your own list of things you want or need changed. I've worked around these issues, made some compromises, and tried to live in Chrome OS for a bit. I think it was a success, because a majority of the time the Pixel works perfectly for me.

The hack factor

Linux on the Pixel

No discussion of the Pixel is complete without considering installing Linux on it. There are several ways you can do this, ranging from wiping out Chrome OS completely and replacing it with Debian 7, to using a small utility to install an Ubuntu environment beside Chrome OS. Both are excellent choices, and give you a really nice Linux ultrabook with limited storage. There's not a lot to say, partly because it's so easy (it was purposely designed to allow this sort of thing), and it just works when you're done. Chrome OS is Linux, and the Pixel uses a standard 64 bit X86 architecture, so the heavy stuff has already been done.

But if you're like me, and already have a nice laptop that runs Linux, you have to think about that $1300 price tag. I've tried both the above methods, and they each work really well. All your hardware works, and after a little adjustment to work the the ultra-high resolution you have a very nice machine, with only 25GB of storage. It's a difficult decision.

As for myself, I'm keeping Chrome OS on the Pixel. I'll probably end up installing a full Linux command line environment via crouton for monkeying with my Android devices, but I can handle using Chrome OS the majority of the time. If Google had skipped the touchscreen and added 128 or 256GB of storage, I'd retire my other laptop. They didn't, so I can't.

Working with Android

Wifi File Explorer

If you have a device that still acts like a standard USB storage device when plugged in, it works great to copy files back and forth from your Android device to the Pixel. If you have a newer device that uses the MTP protocol, you're out of luck and there is nothing you can do about it. The solution is to use apps that act as network file servers and browse your device from a Chrome tab. It's a bit clunky compared to drag and drop, but it works for transferring music, pictures and movies. I'm OK with this, because this is how I do it on my "normal" computer -- I hate looking for cables.

You also have no adb (or fastboot) access from the Pixel. You also can't download and use one-click root apps, or vendor utilities like Kies or ODIN unless you want to install a full Linux distro on it. If you want to use the Pixel to hack away at your phone, you're going to need to rethink all that. If you do install Linux on the Pixel, it works just like any other laptop. I was able to install the Android SDK just fine, as well as Eclipse and the tools needed to build AOSP. 

Things like Google music and Movies and TV work just fine, using the same Google account as your phone or tablet. You can also browse Google Play on the web and push installs to your Android device, and many popular Android apps like Pocket or Evernote have very nice Chrome extensions, which work well.

Is it for me?

Chromebook Pixel

The Pixel was designed for someone who does everything on the web and in the cloud. Today, the hardware inside the Pixel is a ton of overkill, and nobody is sure exactly why Google built the thing. It may be a "halo" device to push partners into building higher quality devices, or it may be designed for the next wave of web developers. Or maybe future versions of Chrome OS will have a need for a machine this powerful. Buying one with an eye on the future isn't advised.

I could use the Pixel, and Chrome OS for my work and play laptop. I have done just that for a week. I wrote this review, even edited the photos and video (I cheated a bit and used Chrome Remote Desktop for the video rendering) on it. As I mentioned, some things in my normal workflow need adjusted, and I have to migrate from Dropbox to Google Drive (which isn't a bad thing, just a tedious thing), but I quickly found my groove.

For playing on the Internet, this thing rocks. All the videos work, Flash, HTML 5, even the oddball adult sites who use their own container. Games are great -- you need to check out Field Runners from the Chrome store -- as long as they were designed for a "web" platform, and general web surfing is awesome on the Pixel's great screen. You just have to worry about the work factor.

Some of you will be able to do your thing on the Pixel, some won't. Chrome OS is clearly not for everyone. The big question for everyone who can live in Chrome OS is the price tag of the Pixel. The Samsung model is $249, and the Acer model is just $199. They both do everything the Pixel does -- everything. In their current iteration, Chrome OS doesn't need the Pixel's hardware and the web doesn't need a touchscreen.

I'm hesitant to recommend the Pixel to most folks. You need to realize the limitations of the machine, of Chrome OS, and if you want to hack it, what using Linux with just a tiny bit of internal storage is going to be like. $1300 goes a long way at Amazon. I love this machine, but it's easy to love something that "work" bought for you. Consider everything you see above, and be sure to look long and hard at both the MacBook Air and some of the great Windows 8 ultrabooks that are out there before you buy.

There are 77 comments

Very thorough review. I have a Samsung Chromebook that I just love, it has become my primary computer. Would love to have an extra 1300 dollars to drop on a Pixel, but my current Chromebook does everything I need it too, so I just can't justify that kind of investment.

Agree with you 100%. If I had $1450 sitting around for a long time I'd jump on it too. My Samsung does a great job already. Rarely do I grab my other laptop. Chrome is just too easy and fast.

mwara244 says:

If it ran dual chrome os and android os to take advantage of the touch screen more I could almost justify it and if the monitor turned 180 degrees to use like a tablet with the keyboard closed underneath it also would be great innovation, but it doesn't and could have.

linh.nguyen says:

Love the idea. Love the hardware. But the OS isn't ready for $1300 for me. Though, I get it's a "Halo" device.

However.. is there an alternative to doing home/end? I always hated how OS X handled it, but if there's no other way to do home/end, that'd honestly be a huge factor for me. Sounds small, but damn did I ever take that for granted.

jasonvvong says:

I use the Samsung Chromebook and these work for me:

Home = control + alt + "up"
End = control + alt + "down"
Delete = alt + backspace

"up" and "down" refer to the directional arrow keys. The problems with the "home" and "end" shortcuts is that there is no way for you to use control + end to get to the very bottom of a document instantly.

linh.nguyen says:

Is it consistent? I had that problem in OS X a while back when I had an iMac. I thought it was alt (or was it option?)+arrow.. but it was weird in some places.

DirkBelig says:

On my MacBook Pro, delete is done with Fn+Backspace. Yes, it's lame.

pahern says:

To see all Chrome OS shortcuts, bring up the help overlay with ctrl+shift+?

While it's displayed you can press any modifier key or combination of them to see what it works with: Ctrl, Alt, Shift, Ctrl+Shift, Ctrl+Alt, Shift+Alt.

Thank you so much for these tips! You have just increased my technique at least 30%.

JobiWan144 says:

Cue the comments about how this review doesn't belong on an Android site. Just remember: they'll probably eventually converge into a single OS.

JonK says:

I am not going to say this doesn't belong here.

I do however think that the article owes to an android audience an explanation of why anyone would want a chrome book over an android tablet. Why Chrome OS? Why not Android?

The answer to that is quite simple. Android is great for content consumption but struggles at times with content creation. Chrome is great for content creation but sometimes awkward at content consumption much as a laptop is.

chgoflip10 says:

"All those touchscreen Windows 8 laptops will force it"...

That said, is it possible to install Windows 8 Pro on this puppy?

still1 says:

dont think so not yet. although its possible to install linux mint on it.

hoosiercub says:

Curiously though.. why not? The hardware supports it right? I mean it's basically an Intel based Ultrabook in hardware form with an interesting OS.

IceDree says:

Windows 8 Pro takes 41GB of storage .

onixblack says:

Never knew that Jerry had tattoos

Timbitman says:

Anyone know if you can torrent?

a.n.chapin says:

This website is one example of a torrent web app, I assume that there are others.

icyitscold says:

bitlet seems to require a Java plug in so that will not work on ChromeOS. You'd want to use something like JSTorrent

isom says:

I look at it this way. 1TB of Drive storage is $50 a month normally. So for 3 years of that you are looking at $1800. So Google is giving you a discount on storage and throwing in a Pixel for free. In 3 years you do it again. So if you need/use that kind of cloud storage it makes sense even if you don't need the machine.

oscarnyc says:

I'm not sure how it works in terms of the storage being linked to the machine, but if you need that much storage, couldn't you buy this for $1300, and then stick it on ebay (sans the free storage account)? I'm sure you could easily net $800 for the 'naked' machine. So net cost of $500 for 3yrs of 1TB of Google storage? A $1300 discount off the list price?

sleblanc1976 says:

Who in the world has 1tb of Drive storage??

buffdaddy72 says:

I have a 1tb external drive for all my music. If your a big music fan, a 1tb drive is essential.

sleblanc1976 says:

1 Terabyte of storage is a lot different than paying for a 1TB Google Drive account

npco543 says:

While the Pixel isn't for me by a long shot, I'm also glad to see it go against the 16x9 display aspect ratio that's become so popular today. The only reason 16x9 became popular is because TV/Movies transitioned to that. I get it that it's nice for watching TV or movies, but these are computers, not TV or movie screens, and wide but short screens are decidedly not good for running actual applications or browsing the web.

It just really annoys me when one technology starts following a trend of another, mostly unrelated, industry, when the effects of doing so are almost universally negative.

icyitscold says:

"It just really annoys me when one technology starts following a trend of another, mostly unrelated, industry, when the effects of doing so are almost universally negative."

Like how touchscreens are being forced on laptop and desktop users :P

rap1 says:

I see a market for chromebooks. I want my mom to get one for web browsing, email, etc. It would be perfect for her. The high school is looking at them as a low cost way to put more computers in the classrooms. They already use Google docs, mail, etc so it is a natural next step. I like that they are harder to mess up the configuration of.

I can't see paying $1300 for it though.

Versed says:

Exactly, $250 fine. But not at this price.

Great article. I would love to own this. I use my Samsung Chromebook daily. If it weren't for the screen size, this OS would be my daily driver.

wsappenfield says:

I have had the Acer C7 Chromebook for a few months. When looking to increase my screen size, I just HDMI to my 55" HD TV. It is beautiful.

icyitscold says:

The HP Pavilion Chromebook has a slightly larger screen (I think it's 14") but I'm not sure the build quality is great seeing as it's made by HP

xKrNMBoYx says:

I honestly like the shape of widescreen screens, but I love the usability of 4:3 screens or better yet 3:2. Scrolling a lot is something I hate doing, especially if the device has a bad touchpad and I don't have my external mouse. I would buy this if I could get Windows 8 on it...well nevermind, no dedicated gpu

eric6052 says:

I have the Samsung ARM powered Samsung Chromebook, I'm typing this on it. For $249 the battery life, and hardware are excellent. I'm very happy with my purchase as it does almost everything I need in a laptop. It came with 100 gigs of additional Drive storage not 1 TB like the Pixle but I'm okay with that. I want to play with the Pixle to experience the hardware but for that price you can get s Retina Macbook Pro with a 13 inch screen that can run OSX, WIndows 8, Linux, and the Chrome browser as well as all of the apps specifically make for those different OS's. Without hesitation I would reccommend the Samsung Chromebook to anyone who wants to try Chrome OS. For that price there's very little risk.

Suntan says:

Does Chrome OS offer a Splashtop client app?

The one thing that would be needed is a good portal into my full-fledged windows server for times that I would want real "PC" capability. Then the Samsung Chromebook would be tits.


icyitscold says:

Not sure about slashtop (probably not though). You get "Chrome Remote Desktop" which works well.

Retinella says:

Wow. What an overpriced computer. Seriously, who will buy one of those? I can get a decent Windows laptop for half the price and it will be able to do so much more.

return_0 says:

Well, someone didn't read the review.

tailsthecat3 says:

Very much worth the cost.

ilhe1s says:

All I want to know is if there is enough room after installing Ubuntu besides Chrome OS if I can install the Android SDK and use the the terminal to push IMGs & ZIPs to my devices and so forth?

Miguel Mayol says:

Try crouton

angel77lopez says:

I love the hardware but I already have an asus transformer infinity which runs my android apps and use Chrome as my browser. So why get this?

Mike Porter2 says:

Every review of the Pixel Ive seen has been a criticism of the OS (being a CB user for the last 6 months, I thought we've moved past this). When you take inventory on a laptop, accounting for the keyboard and trackpad, specs, battery life, display(!), ports, etc....we have all seen MUCH worse for the price....yet the pixel has received intense criticism for being 'little computer for a lot of money'. Google still needs to make headway with the OS itself before expecting acceptance with this beauty....that being said, they have realistic and grounded expectations, as usual. "We want to provide an option for those who demand premium hardware, those who are writing the next generation of applications," They realize people who have been on Chromebooks for over a year want something more than sub $400 chunks of plastic.

Chromebooks are like a dance. You look on from the sidelines, everyone else is having fun, but you're worried about what other people will think...then, you decide you're drunk enough, take a swig, and jump into the game...and you've never had more fun. It's outside your comfort zone, it's a little new, a little different..This is every day for a Chromebook user. Every day I log on to my Chromebook, I swish my fingers across the keyboard and trackpad because they feel good. They feel damn good. I don't log on wondering 'what if I want to install this game and it's a .exe?'...I wonder about every day things like Facebook, listening to music, watching movies...when your internet goes out, do you think "well now wtf am I going to do"? or do you search your computer intent on occupying your time for the next few hours? NO! We ALL try to get the internet working again...

npco543 says:

I disagree with your comment that reviews universally paint the Pixel as little computer for a lot of money. Most every review I've read has made a point of praising the specifications, features and overall build quality. The criticism is of limited capabilities due to Chrome OS.

And as far as "thinking we've moved past this", I'm not sure why you'd think that. Has Chrome OS gained significant capabilities recently? No, it hasn't, and so the criticism stands. It *is* a lot of money to pay for a system limited to the capabilities of a web browser.

That's not to say it's not worth the price for those who *can* do all they need within a browser, but the amount of people who can do so is rather small compared to the general notebook buying public. Furthermore, even if Chrome OS does work for someone, they can buy ChromeBooks in the $300 price range which will do everything the pixel can, sans the screen resolution and nice machined aluminum body.

At the end of the day, it's a high-end notebook with a limited OS. It's value highly depends on the need of the potential buyer, and while some may be able to work within it's limitations and justify it's price, to the vast majority, it *is* a high price to pay for the capabilities it offers.

oscarnyc says:

I would disagree that the amount of people who can do all they need within the browser is small compared to the general public. for business users, yes. but for most ordinary people a laptop without a functional browser/internet connection is a paperweight. and for what minor things they might do completely offline - write a simple document, watch a movie, the chrome is capable of doing as well. my laptop is still well within its useful life, but when it goes, i'll definitely be buying a chromebook.

npco543 says:

Ok, I might agree that a majority of people might be able to do MOST of what they need within a browser. Certainly there's a lot of people who do little more than e-mail, facebook and watch videos/movies. But I'm not sure that majority would be willing to give up the ability to run normal/all desktop applications entirely.

I just don't see the incentive for someone to lock themselves into only living in a browser with ChromeOS. They can buy a Windows notebook, install Chrome and have all that convenience in addition to the capabilities of a fully featured OS. If we're talking a $200 to $300 ChromeBook, the price might justify the tradeoff, but for $1300, the Pixel just doesn't. So like I said, I'm sure there's a small number of people who can both live within a browser AND justify the high cost of the Pixel, but most can't.

It's one thing to pay less to do less, or pay an equal amount to do less but do it more simply/conveniently, but to pay significantly more to do less just doesn't make sense.

oscarnyc says:

I don't think even Google believes there are a large number of people who will buy the Pixel at its current $1300-1450 price. but if you like Chrome and want a device with an excellent build quality and screen and the extra $1000 isn't meaningful to you, I can see pruchasing one. People buy luxury items with no particular increase in utility all the time.

Jerry, do avi videos run choppy for you? MP4 files are the only format that seem to run smooth on my Chromebook. I have the latest Samsung Chromebook.

Everything plays very nicely on the Pixel. Maybe that's why they dumped 4GB of RAM and the i5 in this thing.

mintvilla says:

To be fair, ive always thought about this laptop, that this is a laptop for goole employees, they probaly got mandated to use chrome, as well it looks bad if a company that makes an operating system, doesnt use it company wide, but the only laptops available are all those cheap crap ones, so they made a lovely expensive model for their own employees and decided to sell it while there at it.

buffdaddy72 says:

Wow, good for Google if they can afford to issue $1600 laptops to all their employees.

I have a beat up 5 year old Dell Latitude (w/core 2 duo)laptop I use for work.

mintvilla says:

Lol well this is google, not only do they make billions in profit each quarter, they are a computer company, they all used to use Macs, but if there going to make a computer os like chrome, and want people to take it seriously, then they have to use it, and it would be embarassing if google used a cheap $300 notebook.

Miguel Mayol says:

They all use macs?
They use Gobuntu an Ubuntu LTS plus some specific Google patches
And some are using chromebooks connected to their ubuntu wake on lan workstations.

oscarnyc says:

well, they do make them. I'm pretty sure Apple employees aren't using $400 Dells.

ChromeJob says:

Jerry? Jerry ... what're you doing with Andrew's lovely flower pic on your Chromebook Pixel?

That picture deserved some super-high-res love. It looks awful nice on this screen, which is why I use it for my wallpaper.

When Andrew takes another ass-kicking picture with his N4, I'll switch it out lol.

ChromeJob says:

Yep, yep. I forgot to put the ";)" on that comment, and now I can't -- my bad. When Andrew takes a good "macro" shot with his N4, I'm flying up there with a bag of doggie treats and hard cash to get him to tell me how he done it.

I appreciate the frank review of this thing. I received a Samsung Chromebook for Xmas and have been having fun sloooowwwwly dipping my toes into it. It doesnt' quite complement the Nexus devices like I'd like (if I could beam a pic and share a web address, that'd rock; I guess Air Droid fills that need), sort of the ugly duckling of the Google device farm. Maybe the Pixel is a hint of what's to come.

Thanks for the Pixlr app tip, I use the Pixlr Express & Pixlr-o-matic on my Android devices from time to time ... even resulting in some nice pics. But to put a 50% opacity watermark layer on them for "ownership," I use Sketchbook Mobile and Sketchbook Pro (even bought the latter for my daughter's N7, and she loves it). This new Autodesk Chrome app looks very promising. I know what I'm testing out tonight -- take a pic with the N4, send to the N7 and Chromebook, and see which is easier to crop, resize, add watermark, and post via FTP to the web. ;)

I think this price tag puts this as the "diamond studded" Chromebook for the jet set. The touchscreen is tempting, but as you intimated ... is it really needed for Chrome OS? The case will certainly hold up better than the cheap plastic-tastic case of the Samsung ... but do you need that? My Chromebook hardly strays far from the couch or kitchen (not ready for the office, due to several irksome OpenVPN implementation bugs). It's a great quick-pick living room toy to look things up, catch up on e-mail, maybe do a G+ Hangout or Talk chat. That's about all I use it for. I'd call the Pixel the 1.0 release. Waiting early for the late 2014 1.1 or 2.0 version....

jamie says:

Jerry has been watching Duck Dynasty! Jack!

Aikuchi says:

It would be nice to see how well runs on the Pixel

It installs, and I did check it out. 

But I want to give the developers a bit of time to work out the bugs and get the touchscreen working before I see if it's worth using. 

Android apps on this think would be amazazazing.


I went all in with Google a while ago. I don't have any needs for video, or intensive picture editing. I have the C7, but my lord, I want one of these badly. I just can't afford it.

ChromeOS isn't for everyone. But for my computing needs, it works perfectly. Its lightweight, blazing fast, and best of all, no more damn driver issues. Ever again.

mazzmoney95 says:

I bought a Samsung Chromebook a little while after the Pixel was announced and I love it to death. My only complaints about it is the hardware. I'd like a device a little more powerful (I do like that the thing is totally silent though). Anyway, since I bought it, I have only used my laptop to print documents (for some reason, my Chromebook wont connect to me "legacy" printer, so I have to keep using my laptop) and to download some files (I could have done it on my Chromebook though). I am a little envious of this Chromebook though, too bad I cant get one :(

return_0 says:

Bravo, Jerry. Excellent review. Excellent computer, too :P

rjkolo says:

Maybe I am missing something...but a $1300 web browser?? The ones that are going for 200-300 I understand, they have the function of a net book and maybe a little more...but this is WAY over priced for what it does and to compare it to a MacBook or even a PC UltraBook is way off...the software is limited to the browser. That being said, great review, and very interesting. Specs are amazing on it...price is a little much...

Its a luxury and a status symbol for those who have money to throw away. I have the $250 Samsung and love it so far.

Darkgift says:

Yeah, I think it's a bit pricey. Nice device, but pricey.


I bought a Pixel, and love it. I also just bought a Surface Pro too. I'm giving them both a solid test drive. More than likely, I'll keep them both, and dump my iPad, and Nexus 7.

Without a doubt, the Pixel is the best build computer I have owned. It's sleek, and sexy too.

The screen is simply gorgeous. The Retina on the Macbooks are really nice, but they take a back seat to the Pixel.

The Pixel is one fast computer, it speeds through everything.

As far as the OS, it's not a big hang up for me. I am on the internet 50% of the time, and email another 25% of the time. Google Doc's handles 100% of all my work related documents. I also suspect, Google will be making improvements to the OS in the coming months.

So far so good for me.

daglesj says:

I've seen quite a lot of negative reaction to the ChromeOS concept from tech folks.

I can only think its one of two reasons.

1. They haven't tried it.

2. They have tried it and realised that if they work in IT support and ChromeOS takes off big time then they are out of a job. It's quite a wake up call when you use it.

A Chromebook is the perfect Mum and Dad computer. No messing around, they cant really screw it up and you wont have to be clearing virus infections off it every two months.

ChromeOS - For those of us fed up with dicking around with Windows/Standard Desktop Linux and OSX.

Miguel Mayol says:

Great article but ...

CROUTON, you miss speaking about installing CROUTON, it is a Xubuntu virtualized and you can INSTANT change, and then use Skype or the tools you like as the same Chrome and other app for gtalk - until it is changed -

Please, i think readers would like to read an update speaking about crouton and the crouton experience, it is GPL and open source.

nina371 says:

Are you tired of going office daily? Make money working from home with Google! I've made $64,000 so far this year working online and I'm a full time student. I've made such great money. It's really user friendly and I'm just so happy that I found out about it. Here is what I do, >>

Why is the quality of AndroidCentral's videos that of a 2010 smartphone front camera?

I have the ARM based samsung chromebook as i got for a cheap second internet machine and to try out chrome os really,and i find myself using it loads more than i ever thought i would.
But you would have to be pretty silly to put down this sort of money for the limitations that the chromebook has.
It really is a beautiful machine there is absolutely no doubt about that but for that sort of money in want a machine without the sort of limitations that chrome os poses.

Like an overpowered dumb terminal. Looked promising.

eyesparky says:

Great review. I know it is somewhat irrational but I still want one. If it had a 128GB SSD then it would be a perfect dev machine too, with Linux running in parallel. Mmm, off to recount the pennies. ;)

cowboydroid says:

I don't get it...why has nobody acknowledged that this has an SD Card slot, and thus can accept SD Cards up to 128GB????????? Why are people complaining about local storage?

Michaelzzzx says:

The Pixel is still not available in Europe (at least in Holland)
I want to buy the Chromebook from Ebay (brand new, never activated).
Does someone knows I can use this Chromebook with my European Google Account without problems? Or does Google block these (European) accounts using the Pixel Chromebook?
Anyone has experience or has the answer to this question? Thanks in advance