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Everything You Need to Know About The Chromebook Pixel 2

Google's flagship Chromebook gets a better processor, longer battery and USB Type-C

The Chromebook Pixel 2 has been officially unveiled by Google, after weeks of rumours and hints.

As updates go this one is likely to be considered more of a refresh than a revamp as it uses the same aluminium body and 12.85-inch display with only relatively minor hardware changes.

Pixel

The high-end device remains expensive. At least compared to the $249 Chromebooks most people are used to.

But that is not a surprise. Unlike regular Chromebooks the Pixel is aimed squarely at power users, Googlers and developers.

The Chromebook Pixel 2015 — Better, Faster, Longer

The Chromebook Pixel 2 is very much a premium laptop, both in build, price and specifications. Its high-resolution touch screen is covered in Gorilla Glass (like a smartphone) and boasts an eye-popping 4 million pixels. Google say they have improved the colour reproduction in this latest version, though.

The device is powered by a fifth generation Intel Core processor (also known as Broadwell) rather than the standard (slower) Celeron chips found in consumer Chromebooks, and comes with as much as 16 GB RAM.

Graphics are provided by the Intel HD 5500 chipset which is enough to drive a full 4K resolution monitor. Wheesh!

The choice of fifth generation Intel Core i5 (2.2 GHz) or i7 (2.7GHz) Broadwell processors mean that the device is able to last for up to 12 hours on a single charge.

The choices don’t stop there either as it can be bought in two distinct versions, with either 8GB or 16GB of RAM and 32GB or 64GB of local SSD storage.

Although the Chromebook Pixel 2 still uses the same overall case design of the original Pixel, and still features a (stunning) 12.85-inch touch display running at 2560×1700 with a 3:2 aspect ratio, Google has made a few improvements, reducing the weight by a shade (likely thanks to the updated internals) and improving the on-screen colour reproduction.

There’s also some nifty extras. Pixel owners can now double tap the colour bar on the lid to see the current battery level and the keyboard backlight is turned on when hands are moved over the keyboard.

USB Type-C

Like the new Macbook from Apple the Chromebook Pixel 2 makes use of USB Type-C. This single port is able to combine power (Google say 15 minutes of charging will give you 2 hours of use), data transfer (USB, et al.) and display (HDMI, DisplayPort, etc.) ports into one unified port.

Of course, you’ll need a spangly new set of adapters to make use of them all, too!

Unlike the new Macbook the Chromebook Pixel 2 offers two USB Type-C ports in addition to two USB 3.0 ones.

The Price Is Lower Than You’d Expect, Too

The device is enviable in what it offers users. As with the Nexus line of Android devices Google’s aim with the Pixel has, in part, been to “inspire the next generation of Chromebooks.”

As before Google is making the Chromebook Pixel 2 available for purchase on Google Play in the U.S. and U.K., with a host of additional retailers to be announced.

And the price? Lower than you’d expect:

  • £799/$999 for the i5/8GB version
  • £999/$1299 for the i7/16GB model

Chromebook Pixel 2 Specs

Screen:

  • 12.85-inch touch display
  • 3:2 aspect ratio
  • 2560 x 1700, at 239 PPI

Memory:

  • 8 GB or 16 GB RAM

Camera:

  • 720p wide angle web cam with blue glass

Connectivity:

  • Wi-Fi 802.11ac
  • Bluetooth 4.0 BR/EDR/LE Smart Ready

Processor & Graphics:

  • Intel Core i5 or i7 Processor (Broadwell)
  • Intel HD Graphics 5500 (Integrated)

Storage: 

  • 32 GB or 64 GB SSD

Ports:

  • 2 x USB Type-C (also used for charging)
  • 2 x USB 3.0
  • Card Reader

Size and Weight:

  • 297.7 x 224.6 x 16.2 mm
  • 3.35 lbs / 1.5 kg

  • Ross

    Cheaper, but still laughably overpriced. Putting such high-end hardware to use running Chrome OS is a waste. Even as a developer machine it makes little sense.

    • brenden gonzalez

      The original pixel was just to prove that a high end Chromebook was possible and they sold enough to make a second generation model.

    • I beg to differ. As a developer machine this makes perfect sense, especially if you put it in developer mode and load something like Crouton on it. Now as a developer I can run several virtual machines side by side while I am developing a large scale web application and not have to worry about the machine slowing down to a crawl.

      Even without Crouton and only staying in Chrome OS with that much horsepower I could have I could do much more work more efficiently by having the resources available to me. Anyone who has ever done any real web development work on a Chromebook can also tell you that the screen they are offering is nothing to laugh at either. Now we have the real estate needed to have an app you’re working on and your text editor running side by side.

      As a developer machine I think this is great.

      • Samuel G

        Even as a user machine I think it’s great. I have been waiting for a decent spec’ed Chrombook for a long time now. Celerons dont cut it.

  • FelschR

    I’m sold

    • Me too!

    • FelschR

      Damn, can’t order one in Germany :(

      • Samuel Horne

        Day trip to London!?

        • FelschR

          well… probably the best option :D

  • Fatal1ty_93_RUS

    999$ is kinda …yeah, a bit on the expensive side

    Still would’ve preferred bigger storage options, but oh well

  • Claude Champagne

    I would gladly buy a version of ChromeOS and install it on my laptop to run it in dual boot.

    But I will never buy a ChromeBook to replace my laptop.

    At that price, I’ll keep my MacBook Air a very long time. It does far more things.

    • I’m genuinely curious to know what your MacBook Air is doing that a Pixel could not? Late last year my friend let me borrow his Pixel for a week and I loved it. I put it in developer mode and installed Couton fully expecting to spend a lot of my time on the Ubuntu side of things. With the extra screen real estate and horsepower though the only time I flipped over to Crouton was when I needed to use a virtual machine or Gimp for work.

      I understand our use cases are probably different, but I am always curious to hear what people are doing on their machines that they can’t do in Chrome OS or with a Chrome OS device :)

      • Apple and Adobe software, mainly. I do video, audio, and photo editing on my Mac, with Photoshop Streaming on my Chromebook for when I am on the go. Given that editing photos on my Chromebook is not optimal, I use my Mac often for those purposes. Other than that, my Chromebook has replaced the Mac I use daily.

        P.S., the Mac is a Power Mac G4 (FW800, 1.42GHz dual). Pretty old.

        • There is some nice open source high-end video and audio editing software that you could side load via Crouton, but unfortunately there is not a good Photoshop alternative. It’s pretty much the main reason I always have a nice Windows workstation around like you have your Mac.

          Gimp is alright I guess but its frustrating. When working with graphics I’d much rather use Adobe Fireworks or Photoshop. Adobe should get on the ball and start branching out to other platforms sooner. Photoshop would be a pain on the less expensive Chromebooks but it would be nice to use on this hardware.

  • I’m thinking long and hard about if the i7 and ram is worth the extra $300. Going to order one next week but I have to decide which.

    • Samuel G

      This is the hardest decision for me here.

    • TruthBeTold

      The i7 and ram is overkill. Trust me, i5 and 8gigs is blazing fast on chrome os

    • Samuel Horne

      Depends if you’re going to run a linux distro or not! If not, I wouldn’t bother personally.

  • moe

    I really like the chromebook pixel but its still hard to sell, would of liked to see more of “for whats next” features other than the type c ports and updated specs.

  • Sean Lumly

    It looks really good, but the weight is the thing that keeps me from considering this seriously, even if I was willing to spend the money to get one. I’m very glad that the battery life has improved over the last model (which was a deal-breaker, IMO), and the addition of USB type-c is very nice.

    My ideal Chromebook doesn’t yet exist. I’m not hung up on build materials (plastic is more than adequate) or design. But I do want something that’s thin, light, has outstanding battery life, and a great screen, keyboard, and touchpad. Currently I have the Asus C200: a great little laptop. It however lacks an outstanding screen and could be a bit stronger, for heavier tasks. In this case, the price more than makes up for the shortcomings..

    • moe

      Chromebooks should be synonymous with light weight and long battery life. They are accepted as “secondary” computers which if means anything should mean they will be carried around daily and hence the logic having long battery life and being light weight.

      • Sean Lumly

        I’m not sure if Chromebooks “should” be anything other than what they’re marketed as. I actually have two family members that use them as primary computers quite effectively, and the market positioning seems to comply with this (or at the very least, does not oppose it).

        Still, I agree with you in that I highly value long battery life and light weight. Of course, I say that about all laptops! :)

        • BKarno

          I have been using Chrome OS devices as my primary “personal” computing machines for almost 18 months now. It took a bit of work to get all of my stuff into my cloud drive, but it was well worth it.

          • Sean Lumly

            Very nice! I’m moving in this direction also. I’m a developer, so its a little tricky (and time consuming) to make the move, but I will get there eventually. :)

    • CLM3Chip

      The 13.3″ Toshiba Chromebook 2 with 1080HD resolution and an IPS panel is probably your best bet at the current time (mid-March 2015). It weighs about 3 pounds. I’m typing this message on that exact chromebook right now. :)

  • Liang Li

    I’d be aboard if it ran windows too :-(

    • HOW YOU DARE??

    • pixelstuff

      Me too, if it also had a 256GB SSD. It would likely be a better Windows laptop than most Windows laptops.

    • alvaro guzman

      Supposedly , the old one can have windows. There is a way to install it. Now, i dont know if this new processor will allow it.

    • You could use Crouton to run a full Linux distro, and in theory you could install a Windows VM there. Kind of a work-around but should do the trick for most people.

  • Fabian Büscher

    I hope it’ll be available in Germany. The old model never was.

    • FelschR

      I’m hoping that, too. Hopefully in just a few weeks and not month.

    • Paul Henschel

      You think it would be possible to import it from the UK somehow? I need to get this laptop.

  • Gozei. *-*

  • JusticeL

    No LTE! I want to cry.

    • christer247

      Your phone probably has…? I don’t know about you, but I ain’t going nowhere without my phone..

      • JusticeL

        True, I have 20 GB of data on my phone. So that will work.

        • ChromeDude

          Twenty gigabytes? Wow, what country do you live in?

          • JusticeL

            America, I have Cricket wireless.

          • Dino Rodriguez

            Go Nexus and you’ll always be able to tether to your Chromebook. That’s what I do. I’m in the NYC Market and I have T-Mobile’s [truly] unlimited LTE data plan. Never leave home without my Nexus and I’m never looking for Wi-Fi and never examining how much data I’ve used. It’s a wonderful thing.

          • Maybe it’s time for me to switch providers…

  • BKarno

    These next 3-4 weeks will be some of the longest in my life!

  • Juan De Luca

    Does someone know if the SSD will be upgradeable?

    • Nick

      It will not be.

      • Juan De Luca

        Source? Or do you assume based on last the previous model?

        • Nick

          I’m waiting for my other reply to be approved (contains picture), but a source on reddit says he worked on the project and showed a picture of the internals, showing that it was not replaceable.

          • gadget_hero

            I wonder why they wouldn’t just use a m.2 connector?

          • Nick

            I wish they did. I would move my 128gb SSD over to it right away. At least they have a flush SD card slot. I can put in my UHS-I 128GB SD card, and it won’t stick out, for some extra storage.

          • Dino Rodriguez

            I have the Pixel 2 (LS) and 64GB for me, is more than enough (actually, I may never need to use nearly that much hard disc memory). I live in Google’s Cloud and Google provides an enormous amount of cloud storage.

            I use my Education account and it provides me with unlimited cloud storage (yep, as many terabytes as you can imagine, unlimited).

            That said, all of my productivity remains in the cloud and for me, SSD memory never tends to be a problem. I wish more Bloggers would highlight the fact that these are Cloud based machines and Google’s ecosystem works in the Cloud hence the “seemingly” small amount of inboard memory.

            We’re quickly moving toward a cloud only based world and soon, even Adobe’s Creative Cloud will truly be an entirely browser/cloud based experience.

  • korney654

    If only they did student discount, I’d be right on it! That’s the only way I afforded my MacBook Air but this would’ve been a whole lot more preferable.

  • christer247

    DROOOOOOOLLLL :D

  • Jeffrey Heesch

    My body NEEDS this! Why do I have to be cursed with being so damn poor!?!

  • Rodolfo Duran

    Its a done deal!! I just bought one!!

    • ChromeDude

      …How?

      • Rodolfo Duran

        Just to go google play store, it should be $1062.44 after Taxes

    • BKarno

      Congratulations! I’m waiting for mine as well!

      • Rodolfo Duran

        I just got mine in today!!

  • Samuel Horne

    What’s “blue glass” on the webcam?

    • Mik Furie

      It cuts out some of the infrared interference that cameras tend to pick up, so you’ll get more realistic colours.

  • If they would only offer it in Germany… As a developer I am highly interested in this device. I want to throw my money on the screen! Why Google, why don’t you want to take my money? ;(

  • ChrisGX

    I would say that everything about the Pixel 2 serves a strategic purpose. Well, the release timing may be more tactical than strategic coming as it does just a few days after the Apple MacBook announcement. No doubt, the Pixel 2 was conceived in the imaginations of its designers as “the computer for ChromeOS power users”. But is there a greater purpose there? Is it possible that Google is trying to give shape to the emerging Chromebook market in a way that draws clean lines of demarcation for everybody to see? Let me just emphasise a few points. Firstly, that even demanding general users of computers can expect good design and a complete set of features for US$1000 -US$1300 is a pretty amazing proposition and should get people’s attention. Only, the most inept reviewers of computer tech will be able to miss the fact that the Pixel 2 is serious hardware with serious capabilities and not just “an appliance for viewing webpages”. That the form taken by a personal computer – yes, I did say PC – today, and thus the Pixel 2, like other PCs, is more in line with Apple’s original concept of a ‘media device’ than Microsoft’s ‘business machine’ is nothing more than an acknowledgement by the Pixel 2’s designers of what would be apparent to every competent designer. Apple’s vision of personal computing devices prevailed, aided by the incredible transformation of the mobile phone into a smart computing device. Even the standard bearer for the rival vision, Microsoft, is now having to try to emulate Apple approach. Of course we know how that went. Google’s ‘play’ (no pun intended) in the PC arena, despite the many software services it can bring to bear to elevate the level of interest, is essentially a value proposition – the Pixel 2 is a finely designed and crafted computer that caters to the needs of common PC users and will acquit itself well in that context without breaking the bank! Not a flashy message but it could prove to be effective.

    The other thing I wanted to point out was the (reaffirmed) commitment to Intel. I suspect that it may mainly follow from a marketing need, not technical requirements particularly. Is Google trying to convey the idea that Chromebook buyers can expect the same dependable process of timely hardware upgrades and improvements that we now commonly expect from products carrying the “Intel Inside” sticker? Perhaps, some purpose is also served in weening Intel off the Microsoft teat! And assuming Google wants to exert pressure over the direction of the hardware upgrade process (hopefully pushing it more towards improving energy efficiency and maintaining product affordability rather than pushing raw CPU speed alone to the detriment of these other factors) allying with Intel makes sense – even as Intel caters to Google’s vision and program they also as a consequence chip away at the viability of Microsoft’s program, that is, Microsoft’s story about what computing resources we need and how they should be organised loses its power.

    Google won’t be able to carry all the PC manufacturers with this kind of strategy but it could do alright, after all when faced with a program that barely works at all (margins on Windows PCs are small, only Microsoft and Intel are making any real money out of them) another program that mightn’t work either suddenly doesn’t seem quite so unattractive. Acer, at least, seems to believe a computer company, if it gets in early enough, can do well vending chromebooks and has gone all in. It would be good to see chromebook vendors other than Google releasing high end devices at this point that raise the level of interest in and give further definition to the chromebook market.

    • BKarno

      Excellent post! I’m waiting for my “LS” to ship.

      • Dino Rodriguez

        You’re going to love the LS. I received it a few days ago and I can’t let it down. It’s such an amazing piece of machinery.

        The Chromebook Pixel 2 trumps the new Macbook in many ways and is a fine example of “for what’s next”.

  • Cormac Krupa-Gillmor

    I am looking for opinions on what chromebook I should buy, price isnt an issue for anything but the pixel. I like portability and processing speed above all else and was wondering what my best option is. Thanks

    • CLM3Chip

      If every chromebook excluding the Pixel is in your price range, based on what you said above you should get a 11.6″ Core i3 chromebook. Acer has a chromebook with these specifications. For noticeably less money but with only somewhat lesser performance, you could also get an 11.6″ Celeron (2955C processor) chromebook; the Acer C720 model is a good bet, as is the Dell 11.6″ chromebook.

      In general, if processing speed is important you want to get a chromebook with an Intel processor that includes a fan (i.e. something besides a Bay Trail Celeron). The fanless chromebooks (both Intel and non-Intel) are lighter than similar-sized chromebooks with fans, but they have noticeably slower performance. “Slower performance” is a relative term though because compared to low-end Windows laptops, even ARM processor chromebooks are fast.

      • Adam Acuo

        I’d also suggest that you take a look at the Nvidia Tegra based Chromebooks. The Acer Chromebook 13 has a nice 1080p screen to boot.

        • Watch out for Tegra and Exynos processors if you plan on using Crouton and require x86 applications to go with it – those processors are ARM-based so some x86 applications won’t work.

    • BKarno

      I would look for the new Acer C740 with the Broadwell 3205U (or a Dell Chromebook). If you look at the benchmark story from a couple of days ago here on OMG Chrome you will see it is a very fast machine. It would also offer the portability you’re looking for, excellent battery life, and should be better made than the current C720’s. You’re not going to get a great display, but hopefully it’s improved a little from the C720.

    • Rein J

      Do have a look at the Toshiba Chromebook 2, because of its high quality display. IMHO processing power is never a big issue with chromebooks, BTW this one has an Intel Bay trail processor.

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  • I really wish the SSD was larger, given the price. I’d rather have a larger SSD than more RAM in this case because I’d be using Crouton to run a full Linux distro alongside ChromeOS.

    • Justin Reid

      Seriously, if they had given this at least 128gb of storage then this would be the perfect laptop for developers or anyone who wants to run Linux on high end hardware without the headaches that come with it.

  • Daneil

    How to buy ?