Disclaimer: I work for Microsoft. This is my own personal review of the Chrome Pixel and is not associated with my employer in any way.
I recently got a Google Pixel Chromebook at Google I/O 2013. All attendees were given this device as a giveaway as part of their registration and I wanted to share some observations after having it for a little while.
One thing I love about Apple is that they’ve forced OEMs to rethink their packaging and make it a key visual and emotional aspect of their devices. Google did a nice job of boxing up the Pixel so that it feels like a luxury device. =I took pictures of my unboxing and posted them below. If you’ve ever opened an Apple MacBook, it kind of seems similar.
Having used both PCs and MacBooks, I think I have a fairly well-balanced expectation of how devices should respond. I’m very pleased with the hardware for the Pixel. It “feels” solid with no cheap feeling areas that were immediately visible.
You can tell that Google took a lot of cues from Apple when they built this device. I love the MacBook keyboards because they’re light on the fingers and backlit. The Pixel keyboard feels the same way and when my wife saw that the keys were backlit, that was a big plus for her.
The trackpad is responsive and attaching an external mouse was easy. I enabled bluetooth and it discovered my Microsoft bluetooth mouse. The mouse settings didn’t seem as granular so I couldn’t really dial-up the mouse speed as much as I liked but it was passable.
One thing to note is that the audio plug is a little tight. When I plugged in my headphones, I initially thought that the jack was broken because the headphone plug just kind of dangled inside loosely and wouldn’t output my audio. After some online searching, I found I just needed to push it in just a little harder because the laptops jack is a little tight.
The nicest aspect of this device, by far, is the screen. I mean OH MY GOD what a gorgeous display. It’s one of those that makes you realize how nice things could look and how you wish all your devices looked this nice. I have to believe this is the reason the Pixel is so pricey.
And on top of that, it’s touch-based which in my opinion puts a nail in the coffin to all those silly “gorilla arm” comments.
This is my first foray into ChromeOS. I’ve tried it out sparingly in the past at Best Buy but that’s about it. I think it’s an okay experience for someone who solely wants to surf the web or do some basic documents using Google Apps. At this point, power users may feel that this device is anemic for their needs and I’d have to agree. Being a developer, there’s a host of tools that I need local access to that ChromeOS just can’t handle. With that said, it seems like more than a suitable device for a consumer to have on their kitchen counter for general browsing, especially if it’s a user that takes full advantage of Google’s ecosystem. I spoke with Joe Marini of Google and he feels that Chrome Packaged Apps will be a big plus to ChromeOS bringing feature-rich native-style apps.
The tie-in to Google Drive is certainly nice (along with the 3-years of 1TB cloud space) but I think it takes some getting used. For me, I still like having access to local documents, especially since I travel frequently. It’s the whole “living in the cloud” thing and Microsoft and Apple are heading down that route as well so it’s not a stretch to imagine everything just living on the Internet. For me, though, some old habits die hard. Yes, I know I can do some things offline and the Pixel comes with some (limited) disk storage but the expectation is clear that you will use this device while connected to the Internet. Hence why they offer a Verizon LTE option in this device. That way, you can connect whether WiFi is available or not.
The Pixel comes in two flavors: 32GB w/Wi-Fi ($1,299) & 64GB w/Wi-Fi & LTE ($1,449). While the device is gorgeous, I can’t picture myself (or most anyone else) dropping that amount of money of it especially when there are feature-packed touch devices like the Samsung Series 7 & Toshiba Kirabooks and Apple’s great lineup of MacBooks for similar pricing. And I’m not alone in this opinion. This feels like a nice reference device for Google. A kind of “look at what we can do when we want to build something really nice” type of thing. And I think Google did a good job at this. I just don’t think they’re going to sell a lot of them; at least not at those price points.
Great, gorgeous hardware. Love the high-dpi touchscreen. Fast startup is awesome. Would I buy one? No way, not at this price point. There are just too many other equally awesome machines out there that offer a whole lot more for the money.
Note: I updated this post to reference the fact that I received the Pixel at Google I/O 2013.