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Google Chromebook Pixel review

Wed Feb 27 2013, 17:04

Keyboard, touchpad and shortcut keys
The Pixel's keyboard is in keeping with the minimalist theme of the device, with white lowercase lettering on black keys that are set around 3mm apart. This space is just right, as typing on the keyboard is pleasant and effortless.

Google Chromebook Pixel laptop keyboard view

Despite being very simplistic, the keyboard's travel is excellent and it is one of the best keyboards we've used for a while. Typing on a Google Docs spreadsheet, for example, is enjoyable compared to many other laptops we've tested, as the Pixel's keys are evenly spaced and allow for fluid finger movement. The keys' surface texture is also smooth so your fingers glide from one key to the next, but the keys are not so glossy that they slip and cause loss of precision. Better still, the keyboard has a backlight that auto adjusts based on ambient light, which is great for typing in low-light conditions.

As you'd expect, the Pixel's keyboard is accompanied by a touchpad for cursor commands. Google boasts that this touchpad is made from etched glass "honed using a laser microscope" to ensure that it feels smooth and is responsive to commands. We'll have to agree with Google on this one. We're not usually a fan of multi-touch gesture touchpads, but it is responsive to commands, making the cursor easy to control, and feels exceptionally smooth to the touch.

Google Chromebook Pixel touchpad

During our time with the Pixel, there was one thing that we didn't like about the keyboard and that was the lack of a Delete key. Though it's not really a problem for those used to Apple Macbooks, as they too don't feature this particular key, those moving from Windows laptops to the Pixel might find it rather frustrating. It does however have a backspace key, so deleting a letter where the text cursor lies means you'll have to move in front of it and delete it with a backspace. This isn't a major problem though, as most people will get used to it, so perhaps we're just being picky.

Running across the top of keyboard is an assortment of shortcut keys to control variable settings on a web page, such as back, forward, refresh and restore, as well as more general commands such as tab selection, brightness, volume and power settings. These all work as you'd expect, and provide quick means to control basic configurations.

Next: Performance, connectivity and storage.

 

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