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Its Pixel Perfect! But Is It Right for The Market?

In this editorial, we'll dive into the Pixel.

This week sees the much anticipated release of the Chromebook Pixel. A premium Chromebook which comes with a high price tag, to break the trend of current Chromebooks.

Will this push the Chromebook market further or go the way of the Nexus Q? In this editorial, will dive into the pixel.

Google has had a rather rough time in the past 2 years with releasing Chrome devices. With its first device, the Samsung Series 5 back in June 2011. It was criticised for being an expensive netbook with limited functionality, even though it was priced at £350.

As Chrome OS improved with the introduction of the Aura desktop update and Google introducing two low-priced Chromebook device from Acer and Samsung, it has excited the Chromebook market. Consumers are starting to understand what Google is trying to do with the Chrome platform and also being incredibly affordable for people to buy. Even today, both Acer and Samsung Chromebooks are on the Top 5 best-selling laptops list.

ARM Chromebook

While the recent Chromebooks have been met with critical praise, it still has its issues. Putting the software aside, the hardware many believe is still lacking. All Chrome devices so far have been on the low end of the market, with limited performance and average build quality. The Samsung 550 was released to provide a more high-end Chromebook with its dual core Intel processor, but there was still room for improvements. I will praise the Samsung Chromebooks for having the best keyboard and touchpad outside of the Apple devices.

The Chromebook Pixel is the device to address these issues. Google have built a laptop to rival the Macbook Pro with Retina Display on performance and build quality. The display is the highest pixel-density screen on chromebook-pixel1any laptop, an i5 processor with more than enough horse power for the Chrome operating system, and a stunning laptop design.

For me personally, it ticks all my boxes. After 2 years with my Series 5, I am looking to upgrading it for a newer Chromebook. I want my next Chromebook to have a fast Intel CPU, good display and backlit keyboard. So why have I not clicked ‘Buy’?

While I find the price quite high, I do not believe its overpriced. For the past few days, I have been reading plenty of comments from news website and Google+. Most people seem to believe that the Pixel is too expensive, with some claiming that Google is selling a web browser for £1000.

I believe that these comments are unjustified. They relate to a different discussion entirely. Chrome OS still has this sigma which Google is struggling to shake off;

“Chrome OS is just a browser, you can’t do anything but browse the web”

“Chrome OS is useless without an Internet connection”

“Still need native applications to use a computer”

This is unrelated to the Chromebook Pixel, its a criticism of the platform, not of the device. A discussion I will save for another day.

If we put the software aside, and focus on the actually hardware. Is the Pixel worth the money? Let say it shipped with Ubuntu, is it now worth the £1000 price tag? I think majority would say yes. £1000 gets you one of the most well designed laptops on the market, the best display and a fast processor. If people are spending £1250 for a Macbook Pro with Retina Display, then the Chromebook Pixel is priced correctly.

Google clearly believes that Chrome OS could be adopted as your only computer. Its now at a stage where Web Apps should complete all your computing tasks, you can print using an ePrint printer, you can watch Acer AC700Netflix and listen to Spotify. I am in process of moving to Chrome OS as my only computer, the final stage for me is replacing my Lexmark Inkjet printer with a HP ePrint Printer. Google will still market the Chromebook as a secondary computer, which is what the Samsung ARM Chromebook and Acer C7 are for, the cheap Chromebooks. For customers, such as myself, who will use the Chromebook as their primary laptop, the Pixel is for them.

So why have I not purchased a Pixel, since it should be an excellent replacement for my Series 5. The Pixel is very tempting, and I could see myself caving any day now and buy one, but I can not currently justify spending £1000 on any laptop. My second complaint with the device is the battery life. Granted, the battery is powering a very large display and a fast i5 processor, but I want more than 5 hours. I took great joy earlier this week with my Chromebook’s battery life  I was working in my University library on my Series 5 all day on battery, to find by 5pm I still had around 50% charge left. A feat I certainly will not achieve with the Pixel.

I am keen to see what Samsung does next. They released their low-end Samsung ARM Chromebook last October. Rumour has it that they are currently planning another ARM Chromebook, under the codename ‘Puppy’. I am expecting to see a replacement to the 550, the middle of the Chromebook market. If Samsung release a Chromebook with a fast Intel Processor and 7+ hours of battery life, that will likely be my next Chromebook.

So, the Pixel is a fantastic device and will tick all the boxes for anyone who was disappointed with the low-end Chromebooks. If you are planning to use Chrome OS as your primary computer, the Pixel is ideal for you. Similar to if you were planning to use Mac OS as your primary computer, the Macbook Pro with Retina Display is ideal for you. The Pixel is not overpriced, its in-line with the competition.

chromebook-pixel4

  • Javier Bastardo

    I can’t say I can totally agree, but I do understand your point of view. Still I feel they could have made some better upgrades, use of 3.0 USB ports, little more RAM, better battery, more internal storage. The screen is amazing, I’m sure pretty much of the whole $1300 goes there and the overall build quality of the product.

    I just hope this doesn’t meets the same fate (and I’m sure it wont) of the Nexus Q. With the rumored Nexus X, Google Glass, a revamped Nexus Q and Google TV (they should, who knows what will they unveil on the I|O conference), this laptop… Is surely a nice year to be a Google fanatic.

    • http://twitter.com/Jerzup Jerry

      Why would you need USB 3.0 when everything is stored on the web? That’s a waste of money and will use up more battery life. You don’t need a USB because duh, you have the cloud. I have a feeling you’re not getting the whole point of the Chrome OS, you dont need more RAM and more internal storage.

      • Bill

        I think you do still need more RAM. My 2GB in the Acer C7 is barely sufficient for multiple tabs and comes to a crawl on a spreadsheet of any large file size. 4GB is ok, but with Chrome OS RAM is hugely important even with a lot of processing power.

  • Billy Dalton

    I just read an article elsewhere that mentioned the Pixel might be a future thinking investment, expanding the range of possibility for Chromebook to a higher end clientele than the functionality of the Samsung or Acer, but I still think Chromebook has a niche market with it’s super specific operating style. I think Pixel is more about showing that Chrome OS has more variety than just a quick and easy operating system on a budget computer.

    I almost wish they would more clearly take MacBook Pro Retina on in battle – I really can’t see how the mac could compare to the Pixel. I think with the release of a new level of Chromebook, Google will have to change their advertising approach dramatically.

    • http://twitter.com/Jerzup Jerry

      You’re right, Chromebooks are a niche market, but Google made the Chrome Pixel as a Halo product in hopes of inspiring other Chromebook manufacturers to make higher-ended Chromebooks.
      I’m a Macbook Retina (all specs maxed out $3600) user who is going to switch to the Chromebook Pixel. I’ve already pre-ordered the LTE version.

      There are lots of things that are bad with the Retina macbooks, for one the screen has ghosting and Apple will not fix it, and two during video playbacks sometimes full screen lags, 50% of the time I would say.

    • Nicolas Ruiz

      I agree. I like this guy’s videos: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xU2fB0pQJkA
      He talks about the chromebook pixel

  • Joel dos Santos Almeida

    It’s still A LOT for an computer that natively runs chrome… I mean, I can buy a nicer Asus computer with an i7 and still be able to use chrome (?) for a lower price lol

    • Javier Bastardo

      Yeah, but you don’t get the super-touch-screen. Not quite the selling point for much people regarding the OS I must admit.

  • S_Deemer

    As a Chromebook, the Pixel may be an iffy value proposition, but as a marketing device it’s close to genius, and has already garnered enormous publicity. Mark Hachman on ReadWrite Mobile described the Pixel as “When Technology Trumps Product,” which is apt considering the mediocre battery life that comes from building light and thin, and trying to drive a HD screen. Like Apple’s Retina Macbook last year, if you buy a Pixel now, you pay the early adopter tax. I still want one.

    But more importantly, at $1299, the Pixel opens a huge hole in Chromebook pricing, with the top of the bottom tier being the HP Chromebook at $329 (I’m ignoring the Samsung 550, because it’s “last year’s model” and virtually unavailable). I hope to see new hardware partners offering Chromebooks (ASUS?) and existing partners to add more models by re-purposing existing models (as Acer, HP, and Lenovo have done at the low end). It’s not hard to imagine a higher-quality Chromebook built on an Ultrabook foundation with a $500-$600 price point, but without the HD touch screen, and with better battery life than the Pixel — something that would have been a difficult sell prior to $1299.

  • http://profiles.google.com/kenny.strawn Kenny Strawn

    As we all know, the amount of stuff you can do on a Chromebook without an Internet collection is growing VERY quickly:

    https://chrome.google.com/webstore/category/collection/offline_enabled

    And, Google hopes it will only continue that trend:

    http://developer.chrome.com/dev/apps/about_apps.html

    So, please, the claim that Chrome OS is useless without an Internet collection has long been made obsolete. For the love of God, naysayers, there’s absolutely no reason for this complaining.

  • http://twitter.com/the_stefanovic Mr Mango

    Apart from the display the specs are almost identical to the 13.3″ base Macbook Air but the Air has 128GB flash storage instead of 32GB and USB 3.0 ports for less money. I just can’t get past that 32GB hard drive, that’s a severely limiting factor to what you can do offline. How much of that’s usable?

    Ask yourself WWLD? (What would Linus do?) He’d get a Macbook Air :P

    *edit

    i priced up a laptop similarly on System76 too, I couldn’t get the specs down as low as the Pixel but it was still half the price, if you’re buying this then you’re buying for the display, nothing else.

    • KatsumeBlisk

      Linus has actually made the Pixel his main computer….

      • http://twitter.com/Jerzup Jerry

        Where? any links? Did you mean Linus Torvald?

        • Kyle Morrison

          Yes he actually uses Fedora on his Pixel thinking the only limitation was the OS for the hardware.

  • Howard Story

    Call me when I don’t have to have a special printer and an internet connection to print something. I can print from my iPad to a network printer.

    • Ed Hewitt

      ePrint printers are not special printers, its now the industry standard. You will struggle to by a non-ePrint printer now. ePrint is the future of printing allowing all internet connected devices to print without the need for drivers. So you can print from your iPhone, iPad and Chromebook to a ePrint printer.

  • http://twitter.com/Jerzup Jerry

    “If we put the software aside, and focus on the actually hardware.” you mean actual hardware?

  • Nicolas Ruiz

    I have found myself using chrome browser 99% of my time in the computer; that’s why I got myself a Samsung Chromebook. I am turning my desktop pc off but not putting it away for one reason: I like taking pictures, I have a Nikon D7100 and I always shoot raw, so I need Adobe Lightroom to import/edit/export them. That is the only scenario were I see myself actually going back to my PC.