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Review: ChromeOS And Chromebook Pixel

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It is sleek, powerful, responsive and well built. It boots in seconds, shuts down in seconds and will get you to what you need in seconds, provided your internet connection can keep up. The Chromebook Pixel is Google's most recent addition to their Chrome OS products and though it has some of the best speakers and most beautiful display on any laptop I've tested, it's greatest strength may also be it's greatest weakness. Make no mistake, this beast tackles trials and tasks like a Greek demi-god, it just has an Achilles heel that you'll want to know about if you're in the market and looking in this direction!


The Chromebook's Pixels

One of the most eye-catching qualities of the Chromebook Pixel is it's 2560 x 1700, 12.85" display. It was car buying time in the Armstrong household recently and while at the dealership, I needed to get them some financial information so I whipped out the Pixel, placed it on the countertop in the sales area with about a dozen chaps standing around in various places in the room. One of the salesman asked me about the laptop, so I told him about it and showed him the demo video that comes with the laptop to showcase its display. Within a couple minutes, most of the people in that room were standing around me completely engrossed in the beautiful images of the demo video and immediately enamored with the display. It is that good and it only gets better because it's also a very responsive touch screen! What may feel a little odd for some in an age of widescreen, 16x9 laptop displays is that that this display is formatted for 3:2 viewing. Simply put, instead of the rectangular display you may be used to now, with the Pixel you're getting a perfectly square screen which Google says is a "photographic format that's designed for the web." It's not the shape of the quadrilateral, but the amount of pixels so, square or rectangle, the 239 pixels per inch of the Chromebook's display make for quite the sight to behold. For comparison, Apple's 13-inch Retina MacBook Pro has a pixel density of 227 PPI. The only complaint I have where this gorgeous display is concerned, is a common complaint I have with most modern laptops… stop it already with the glossy displays. Seriously. I'll take a matte display 6 days a week and twice on Sunday. Glossy displays are beautiful if the place you're viewing them in has ideal lighting but sit in front of an open window, or outside or anywhere that isn't lit like a movie theater or video editing room and you're staring through glare and ghosts to view whatever it is you're trying to look at.


Chrome Hardware

Though the hardware isn't Chrome, this laptop feels really well built as its case is made from anodized aluminum. The Pixel really feels like it will be able to go with you wherever you might haul it, for the long haul. The laptop also features what Google calls "active cooling" with no visible vents but don't let that fool you, you will hear this laptop when it gets warm. And it does indeed get a little spicy. Not hot enough to boil any body parts should you actually be using the device on your lap, but definitely warm enough to remind you that it's there.

One of the areas where this iteration of Google's Chromebooks stands out over previous generation models is the hardware. Where previous Chromebooks were based on the same processors you might find in a tablet or netbook device, the Pixel is running off Intel's Dual Core 1.8GHz Core i5 with 4 GB's of RAM and a 64 GB Solid State Drive (along with a 1TB of free Google Drive storage for 3 years). Let me tell you, this laptop won't leave you waiting for it to do anything. Period. The only thing that will slow you down as you use the Pixel is the speed of your internet connection and if you pick up the version with Verizon's LTE built in (and you're in a location that has a good LTE connection) your internet connection won't be slowing you down either. Matter of fact, the version I tested had Verizon LTE activated and it was fast. Fast at work in a location of the building where I get no AT&T service, diminished Sprint service and fast at home where I get diminished Sprint, T-Mobile and AT&T services. For some reason, my apartment is a cellular service black hole, but true to their claims Verizon's coverage where I live is Johnny On The Spot for me.

Rounding out the great hardware on the Pixel is a nicely backlit keyboard and fully clickable glass trackpad which was a joy to use. I have to say that, typing on the keyboard and using the top row of special keys on the keyboard, and generally everything else I had to do on this laptop was one of the best mobile computing experiences I've had to date- aside from using CAPS LOCK which requires two button presses to activate and deactivate and easily printing any documents on an older networked printer.

I really do enjoy using the Pixel because it is compact, light and quick to get in and out of! It's a powerful device but therein lies the problem. It's like owning a Ferrari that you can only drive on city streets… you have all this power and can't really put it to great use. What do I mean by that? Currently there are no apps available in Google's Chrome Store for serious photo, video or audio editing. I've been looking at a service called WeVideo which could change that, but it doesn't exist in the Chrome Store as of the time of this writing. There are photo editing apps available but nothing that comes close to Photoshop or GIMP. The Chromebook Pixel is just screaming for developers to push out some apps that will help it flex it's muscle and I'm sure we'll get there eventually but today, for the price you're going to pay you'll have to settle for needing another laptop if you want to get into anything other than casual content creation. This problem could be easily solved if the Pixel were able to be dual booted, then you could just slap some flavor of Linux or Windows on it, download/install your media editing app of choice and you'd truly have the ultimate modern machine at your fingertips.



cloud connection

lte available

screen ruined me for all other screens

loud, crisp sound

boot and power down, super quick

touch screen though rarely used is nice

google docs for most will be sufficient, plus schools are using them much more


laptop is fast. really fast


two-steps for caps lock

two-steps for caps lock

no widescreen?

file save issues (properties)

no dual boot

no power apps yet- specifically audio and video editing


printing can be problematic

Tshaka Armstrong Tech Ninja Tshaka Armstong writes about the latest technology and helping FOX 11 Viewers understand how to be safer, smarter users of the internet and their "gadgets. He's also one of our social media guys, helping guide the station's online efforts and social media outreach.
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