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Google Chromebook Pixel review

Wed Feb 27 2013, 17:04

One thing that sets Google's Chromebook Pixel apart from its competitors is its 13in touchscreen display with what the firm claims is the highest pixel density screen on any laptop - including Apple's Retina display.

Boasting 2,560x1,700 resolution with 239ppi pixel density, the Pixel has 12 more pixels per inch than Apple's 13in Macbook Pro Retina laptop, which has 227ppi. Google's hard work in delivering this crisp quality display is evident and even on close inspection there are no visible pixels. Colours are brilliantly vibrant with a great depth of tone. We really cannot fault the quality of the display on the Pixel, and we can see why Google has named its new Chromebook after this particular feature.

Google Chromebook Pixel side view

The Pixel's screen is so impressive to look at that you almost forget it is also optimised for touch commands, so you can select on-screen icons with the tip of your finger. Multi-touch is also supported, meaning that you can swipe, pinch and zoom on web pages and media windows.

In our initial tests we found that the screen was very responsive to touch commands, with operations feeling very fluid. This feature works particularly well on Google Maps, for instance. However, during our use of the Pixel, we didn't find ourselves using the touch feature all that much as the touchpad sufficed. There isn't much of a need for touch commands in Chrome OS either, which leads us to believe that for now it is more of a gimmick.

Google Chromebook Pixel screen close up

Google claims that the Pixel's display has an "extra wide" viewing angle of up to 178 degrees, and we'd have to agree there. Turning the pixel around while reading a web page, we found that we could read displayed text clearly until the screen was almost at a right angle to our line of vision, which has to be said is rather impressive.

The only real negative we came across with the Pixel's display, which is made from Gorilla Glass, is that it is rather glossy, so it does reflect light a little more than we liked. Nevertheless, this isn't too much of an issue as the highest level of screen brightness on the Pixel is more than adequate in most lighting conditions. It also would have been impossible for Google to create a matte finish on this screen while retaining its impressively high resolution.

Google Chromebook Pixel has quite a boxy shape

Another attribute of the Pixel's display that some might not like is its 3:2 aspect ratio that makes it appear quite boxy. Most Ultrabooks on the market offer a much wider aspect ratio of 16:9 or 16:10, which is good for entertainment use, so this could put people off. That said, it does give the Chromebook Pixel a unique advantage over its competitors, setting it apart in terms of appearance.

Next: Keyboard, touchpad and shortcut keys.


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