Chromebook Pixel Review – The original Chromebook Pixel was infamous for being the most expensive and insanely specced Chromebook, equipped with a high-resolution, unorthodox 3:2 screen. It was expensive and luxurious, and yet the original Pixel’s battery life was underwhelming. Google has equipped the new Pixel with the same 2,560×1,700 screen, an even more powerful Intel Core i5 Broadwell chip, plus a quoted 12 hours of battery life – all at a lower price. In many ways, the new Pixel is the Chromebook perfected.
It reminded us of the Delorean, and not in a good way. It seemed tacky and bland with a sheet-metal body that seemed derivative of the ‘80s car. Thankfully, in person, this was proved wrong. In your hands, it’s a solid aluminium slab that’s reminiscent of the MacBook Air, but it’s made from a smoother, slightly softer metal. Open up this laptop and it reveals its bare, elegant and utilitarian design. From the the lowered lip around the keyboard to the keys themselves and the track pad’s edges, the laptop as a whole follows one sharp, square-shaped aesthetic, set by the 3:2 screen. The edges of the machine fall off sharply, making it feel utterly modern.
USB-C done right
The new USB-C ports are some of the most important new additions to the Chromebook Pixel. The new USB 3.1 port is a big deal, in light of its recent debut with the new MacBook. However, unlike Apple’s latest laptop, the Pixel comes with two of these new fangled ports instead of just one.
The two ports are located on either side of the laptop, letting you plug in the charger on either side of the device. At the same time, the availability of legacy ports means you won’t be bogged down with adaptors, as you are with the new MacBook. Few Chromebooks come equipped with a beyond-HD screen, let alone 32GB of SSD storage or 8GB of RAM by default. This is by far one of the fastest Chromebooks to ship, and you’ll never run into a slowdown, even after opening 20 or more Google Chrome tabs. Powered by a Core i5 processor, the machine comes into its own when streaming 1080p and even 4K video on YouTube. Most Chromebooks do well with FullHD footage, but higher-res video makes most machines buckle; the Pixel ran smoothly.
If you can get over the annoyances of having a 3:2 screen, the Chromebook Pixel has one of the nicest looking displays on the market. The panel is nice and bright: even with the backlight set to 50 per cent, it’s easy to see everything on the display, with bright sunlight no problem. The colours are rich, and there’s plenty of contrast to fully appreciate whites fading into subtle greys and then deep blacks. Google has even fine-tuned the touchscreen’s responsiveness and accuracy. That said, we rarely found ourselves playing around with it, other than to pinch and zoom in on a few webpage images.
Google boasts its new Chromebook Pixel has a battery life of 12 hours, and that estimate isn’t too far off reality. In testing, we were able to eke out eight hours and 22 minutes of heavy usage. Nearly nine hours of battery life would be a huge length of time for any Chromebook, but it’s even more impressive because of the Pixel’s Core i5 processor and high-resolution screen.
Google has improved the Pixel in almost every regard, and most importantly addressed the battery life issues found in its inaugural laptop. The new Pixel has also been tweaked with a more colourful and responsive touchscreen, as well as the addition of USB-C, making it a must-have model if price is no object.
Chromebook Pixel Specifications
- CPU: 2.2GHz Intel Core i5-5200U
- GPU: Intel HD Graphics 5500
- RAM: 8GB DDR3
- Screen: 12.85- inch 2,560×1,700 IPS touchscreen display
- Storage: 32GB SSD
- Ports: 2x USB-C, 2x USB 2.0, headphone/mic jack, SD card reader
- Comms: Intel Dual band Wireless- AC 7260; Bluetooth 4.0 LE
- Camera: 720p HD
- Weight: 1.5kg
- Size: 297x224x 15mm (WxDxH)