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Google Chromebook Pixel review

Wed Feb 27 2013, 17:04

The Chromebook Pixel is powered by an Intel Core i5 processor running at 1.8Ghz, has 4GB of DDR3 RAM and, as you'd expect with a laptop in this price bracket, has integrated Intel HD 4000 graphics. However, as it retails at £1,049, we would expect the Pixel to have slightly higher specifications.

For example, you can buy a 13in Macbook Pro with a 2.5Ghz Intel Core i5 CPU and 4GB RAM for £999. However, the Macbook wouldn't have the high resolution Retina display at that price. In terms of Windows machines, you can buy a Sony T Series 13in touchscreen ultrabook with an Intel Core i7 processor and 4GB of RAM for £999.

Google Chromebook Pixel laptop overview

Nevertheless, the Chromebook Pixel runs Chrome OS, which is rather new and most people won't be familiar with it. As a result, it is difficult to compare its performance to that of Windows and Mac OS X laptops and benchmark its capabilities. Conversely, it might be argued that Chrome OS requires less system power and lower specification components to perform equally as well as rival devices.

Google claims that, like all Chromebooks, "Pixel boots up in seconds and stays fast, [and] requires almost zero setup or maintenance". In our experience this proved to be the case. All operations were fluid, there was zero lag in performing daily tasks and it provided a seamless Google Docs productivity suite experience as soon as it powered up. Booting up the Pixel took around three to four seconds.

Google Chromebook Pixel view from above open

That said, Chrome OS might not be to everyone's taste. Despite providing an intuitively designed user interface (UI) and offering easy access to Google's online office suite Google Docs, Chrome OS won't let you install familiar programs such as Microsoft Office, Adobe Creative Suite or games. For this reason, we don't expect to see a lot of people rushing out to buy the Chromebook Pixel instead of a Macbook or Windows PC.

In terms of connectivity, the Pixel features two USB ports, which we should note don't support USB 3.0 technology, so transferring files is slower than on competiting products with USB 3.0 ports. Joining these two ports on the left hand side is a mini display port so that you can output the Pixel's display to an external monitor or smart TV, for example, as well as a 3.5mm audio jack. On the right hand side of the chassis there's also a 2-in-1 card reader supporting the SD and MMC card standards. The ports featured on the Pixel fit in well with its overall minimalist design, with no accompanying texts or colours.

Google Chromebook Pixel side usb ports

On the inside, the Pixel has dual-band 802.11a/b/g/n 2x2 WiFi, Bluetooth 3.0 and optional 4G capabilities for faster connections on the go. It's also worth noting that the Pixel has an HD webcam set just above the screen for video calls, or perhaps more appropriately, Google Hangouts.

The Pixel has a 32GB SSD drive on board. This is far less storage than its Windows and Mac OS X laptop equivalents offer. However, Google is throwing in a hefty 1TB of free cloud storage with the Pixel, free of charge for the first three years after purchase. Google claims that this would normally cost about $1,800, but by doing so it is making the point that cloud computing is the future of storage.

Next: Battery life.


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