Chromebook Pixel Review Roundup: Google Goes Premium


Slowly but surely, Google’s Chrome OS is gaining ground. Chromebooks – cheap, lightweight laptops featuring nothing but the Chrome Web browser – are beginning to sell in significant numbers, and within the last 12 months we’ve seen new models from HP, Lenovo, Acer and Samsung.

The Pixel is Google’s attempt to make its own flagship model (like the phone/tablet Nexus lines) – it is far more powerful, and far more expensive, than any Chromebook to date. The laptop boasts a stellar 2,560 x 1,700 display that supports touch; it’s powered by an i5 processor and includes 4GB of RAM; and you get 1TB of Google Drive storage for free for three years to augment the 32GB of local storage.

Despite these impressive statistics, the Pixel still runs Google Chrome OS and nothing more, just like the Chromebooks that cost a fraction of its price. Should you be spending over £1,000 on a Web-only laptop? We’ve rounded up some of the best first-look reviews appearing online.

The Telegraph: “It’s not the computer for right now. It’s the computer for what’s next.”

I really, really wanted to love it. But even London can’t quite offer the ubiquitous connectivity it needs, and Google’s apps don’t fill in the gaps where they need to at this price. You can do more in the cloud and via the Chrome Web Store than you think, but you can’t yet do everything.

Gizmodo: “It does what it was designed to do really, really well.”

The OS itself may be seen as restrictive — standalone programs are a no go — but for those of us that use our laptops primarily as online terminals rather than traditional desktops, these limitations are hardly noticeable.

The Verge: “You had best be as dedicated to cloud computing as Google is before you lay your money down.”

Google’s all-new Chromebook Pixel isn’t something we entirely expected, but it was something that Google absolutely needed to do: try to create a top-tier laptop that could conceivably become somebody’s main machine. We can’t say that Chrome OS is totally ready for that challenge yet, but the Pixel itself feels as premium as any laptop on the market today. It’s a solid, rectangular machine in a gunmetal gray metal shell, with an even thickness from the back to the front of the device.

Engadget: “The machine’s real star is its 12-inch, 3:2 display.”

Still, everything we did was comfortable, eye-catching and rather quick, thanks, no doubt, to the Pixel’s Intel Core-i5 processer. First impressions? Very solid, and possibly the finest Chromebook yet.

T3: “Gone is the budget laptop to be replaced by a power-lappy with a premium feel.”

One of the main changes to the Chromebook is that it’s now fully touchscreen. Whether you’re browsing the web or flicking through your pics you have full control through the screen. We imagine that it will take a while to get used to and we didn’t find ourselves naturally using it during our quick test but a long term test could prove otherwise.

How does the new Firefox 3.6 match up?

As Google enters the ring and Firefox releases a new update, we compare the most popular internet browsers available for download.

Firefox 3.6

Faster, safer and an all-round improved browsing experience: these are the promises made by Mozilla regarding Firefox’s latest release, version 3.6. As great as this sounds, some users might find the upgrade installation less than bug free. However, after download-and-install attempt number six finally yielded results, I entered the world of the new and improved Firefox browser…

On a first look around, it doesn’t seem as if much has changed. However, Mozilla have made a lot of subtle adjustments that, put together, really make a difference to the browsing experience.

The technical improvements include:

  • Improved speed – 20% faster than the previous version
  • Increased stability
  • Better safety features
  • HTML 5 support
  • Plugin updater

Other features that are sure to be popular include the Personas plugin, which gives users over 35,000 browser themes to choose from. The new version also enables one-click bookmarking, one of the many adjustments that improve the accessibility.

Internet Explorer

As the original web browser, Microsoft’s Internet Explorer has found itself struggling against its competitors more recently. When Firefox arrived, users celebrated its ease of use, stability and speed compared to its clunky Microsoft counterpart.

Since then, Microsoft have tried to level with other browsers, releasing fairly regular updates with new and improved features. However, some would probably say that they are fighting a losing battle.

This was highlighted most recently by the revelation that hackers had exploited serious flaws in IE8 to attack Google and over 30 other companies around the world. Although Microsoft quickly released an additional security patch to fix the issues, the news didn’t do much to instil confidence in their safety features.

Google Chrome

Google Chrome is a recent addition to the battle of the browsers. It’s key attraction is simplicity; the toolbar contains basic browsing functions and nothing more. It also erases the need for a separate search box, as users can now navigate web pages and search for keywords from the same place. Conveniently, it even offers to import your Mozilla bookmarks and settings when downloaded.

For many internet users, this accessibility is sure to be alluring. However, aside from Chrome’s minimalist design, Google and Mozilla are two of a kind: both offer high-speed browsing, good security features and have a customisable appearance.

The way we browse the internet has changed dramatically over the last few years. More competition in the market has lead to better features, improved security and faster speeds. However, as in any competition, someone always has to fall behind. Sadly for Microsoft, it looks like it’s their turn.