Content will look superb on the Pixel’s 2460x1700 high-pixel-density screen.
Browser-only OS? No, when we tell people that, we just get a slack-jawed look that tells us they don’t understand what that even means. Instead, we’ve taken to using a car analogy to help explain the concepts.
A laptop with a full-service OS (whether Windows, Linux, or even OSX) is a truck with a sports car engine; it gives you mind-bending performance and cargo capability not available on any other consumer hardware. An ARM-based device is more akin to early hybrid vehicles. They give you amazing run time and portability, and the applications—for what they are—work pretty damned well when scaled down for the platform.
If that analogy holds up, the Chromebook is an electric car. It’s fine when you have Internet access, but once you’re offline, its capabilities plummet. It’s like trying to drive your electric car across the United States—it’s just not feasible at this point unless you want to stop every 250 miles and park the car overnight near a power outlet.
Well, kids, behold the Tesla Model S of personal computers: the Chromebook Pixel. Built on a stunning aluminum shell, the Chromebook Pixel is the sexiest Chromebook we’ve ever seen and easily one of the sexiest notebooks, too.
It’s no clone/me-too notebook, either. Google eschews the popular 16:9 aspect ratio screen for a 3:2 aspect-ratio IPS multitouch panel. This makes the screen slightly taller than 99 percent of the notebooks out today. We appreciate the 3:2, but then again, we actually still pine for the days of the long-ago 4:3 aspect-ratio screens, so maybe we’re just crazy. The screen itself is an incredible 2560x1700 pixels crammed onto 12.8 inches diagonal. That gives it a PPI of 239, which is the highest in the industry on a clamshell computing device. The etched glass and laser-honed track pad is simply stunning to use, too.
The LTE version reviewed here features 64GB of storage and gives you 100MB of data per month for two years. Pixel buyers will also get 1TB of Google Drive storage for three years. The Wi-Fi-only model cuts the storage in half and brings the price down to $1,300.
And proving that even for thin clients, performance still matters, the Pixel uses a 1.8GHz Core i5 processor, which makes a monkey out of all previous Chromebooks we’ve tested. On the graphics side, some may beg to differ with the performance of the Intel HD 4000 graphics (*cough* Nvidia) but the combination outstrips any other Chrome OS notebook out today. You’re probably wondering why you even need CPU performance for a browser OS that actually runs decently on even limp ARM chips. Frankly, our gut says Google has plans to use all the CPU horsepower in the Pixel on something. Don’t believe us? Just look up Google’s 10,000 Stars experiment on your old Atom- or ARM-based Chromebook and you’ll see what we mean.
Still, we understand what has led the majority of reviewers to label the Pixel the sexiest notebook no one should ever buy—its utility still falls far short of a full-service laptop. At the same time, there are a lot of a people who think the Tesla S is an impractical, overpriced electric car, too. That assessment is probably accurate, but there’s no denying that the Tesla S is a damned-sexy car few of us would turn down. Same goes for the Google Pixel.