Google released a new Chromebook Pixel, refreshing their high-end Chromebook with a new hardware design, a serious bump in specs and a new lower price. Google posted the Chromebook Pixel on their new Google Hardware Store, which showed up with little fanfare.
But should you buy the new Chromebook Pixel 2015, or Chromebook Pixel 2 as some call it? For the right person, the Chromebook Pixel will make a great option. Google positions this as a developer tool or an option for the IT pro who has to manage a slew of Chromebooks at work. It’s also an option for ChromeOS fans, or those who want a luxury notebook but can spend all their time in a browser or use webapps.
Here’s 5 reasons to buy the new Chromebook Pixel, if you fit that target audience for the device.
Chromebook Pixel Price
The new Chromebook Pixel 2015 starts at $999. For that price the buyer gets some handsome specs. Here’s the hardware Google put into their new high-end system.
- Intel Core i5 processor running at 2.2GHz
- 8GB of RAM
- 32GB of flash storage
For those wanting a little more, the more expensive Chromebook Pixel will cost $1,299. Google packed in some potent hardware as follows:
- Intel Core i7 processor running at 2.4GHz
- 16GB of RAM
- 64GB of flash storage
In addition to those specs, both Pixels will include the following:
- 12.85-inch display with a 3:2 aspect ratio and 2560×1700 resolution (239 pixels per inch)
- Multi-touch screen
- Backlit keyboard
- Spacious glass trackpad
- 802.11ac wireless with a/b/g/n support
- Bluetooth 4.0
- 720p webcam
- 11.7 x 8.8 x .6 inches and 3.3lbs.
- Up to 12 hours of battery life
- Ports: 2 USB Type-C, 2 USB 3.0 ports, SD Card slot, Headphone/mic jack
- Video output over Type-C USB port with a dongle that supports up to 4K video using an optional DisplayPort or HDMI adapter
Chromebook Pixel Looks Beautiful
The Chromebook Pixel comes with a beautiful new silver design replacing the darker one. It’s not the sleek wedge shape that so many manufacturers use today to compete with the popular MacBook Air. Even Apple mimics that design with their new MacBook. Instead, Google uses a design that looks more like the MacBook Pro, with squared edges and rounded corners in an aluminum housing.
The screen on the Chromebook Pixel will best the new MacBook with Retina Display or the MacBook Pro with Retina Display. The Pixel resolution gives users 239 pixels per inch density. That’s higher than the human eye can perceive and beats Apple’s Retina Display. Also the 3:2 ration means an almost square look, making it a better option for business users. The aspect ratio will let the user fit more on-screen than the widescreen look on most modern computers.
Chromebook Pixel Has Better Specs than the New MacBook
When people compare the Chromebook Pixel to the new MacBook (see above) that Apple announced the same week, they’ll find that the Pixel will trounce the MacBook specs, at least on paper.
- Processor: The Intel Core i5 or i7 runs faster with more power than the Intel Core M processor in the new 2015 MacBook
- Display: Apple’s new MacBook doesn’t include a touchscreen and it’s rated at 226 PPI, versus the Pixel at 239 due to a 2560×1700 resolution compared to Apple’s 2304×1440
- Memory: The Pixel starts at 8GB just like the MacBook, but at the $1,299 price the Pixel comes with double the RAM, at 16GB versus Apple’s 8GB.
- Storage: Apple beats the Pixel in terms of storage, but Google includes more free Google Drive storage than Apple does with iCloud Drive
- Ports: The MacBook includes a headphone/mic jack and one other port, a Type-C USB port for charging the computer and connecting peripherals; the Pixel adds a second Type-C port and a pair of USB 3.0 ports plus SD card slot
A Type-C USB port will transfer data faster while also sending electricity both ways. Manufacturers can design their computer to charge the machine over a Type-C port or power peripherals. It looks like great technology and Google put a couple in the Pixel.
Apple only put one Type-C port on the new MacBook, annoying some potential MacBook buyers who took the social media to voice discontent over the MacBook’s single port. A user can’t charge their MacBook and plug in an external drive, an iPhone or hook up to a projector at the same time. Both MacBook and Pixel users will need an adapter to hook up to a DisplayPort or HDMI port for extending the display to a TV, monitor or projector, but Pixel owners can connect to peripherals while charging the machine at the same time thanks to 2 Type-C ports.
Chromebook Pixel Fast Charging and Long Battery Life
Google promises up to 12 hours of battery life on a single charge. They also promise a two-hour boost in battery life on the Chromebook Pixel after just 15 minutes of charging. Do the math: that means a user can theoretically charge their computer to full power in 90 minutes. That’s an attractive feature for people who work on their machine all day and just need a couple of hours to finish out a long day. Someone could unplug the charger in the morning and start using my Pixel at 9:00 a.m. and then plug it in at night while having supper. Then the person can run the Pixel on battery until late into the night.
The Chromebook Pixel Runs ChromeOS
For some people ChromeOS serves as a deterrent to buying a Chromebook. When they try a Chromebook and learn how simple and easy they are to manage, many people find them more useful. Add in a ton of free software and impeccable security, and you get a hit. Show someone how easily the person can update the OS in two minutes or even totally erase and restore it in under five minutes. Suddenly ChromeOS gets more appealing.
Chromebooks won’t satisfy everyone. However, most notebook computer users today don’t need anything more than a Chromebook. That assumes the user will spend most of their day doing the following:
- Looking at websites
- Reading email
- Catching up on social media
- Watching streaming video at YouTube, Netflix or other sites
- Editing documents, spreadsheets, or creating presentations for work or school
- Playing online games
- Posting pictures to image sharing sites or social networks
If that’s 90% of your computer usage, a Chromebook will fit perfectly in your lifestyle, especially if you own another mainstream desktop system or other laptop. Use that for hardcore tasks like video editing and gaming and get on the Chromebook for the above tasks. Some people buy the Chromebook as a second computer, but then find themselves using the Chromebook more often since they’re so convenient.
People who find the Chromebook Pixel enticing should take this challenge. Don’t open any software on your current computer other than the Chrome browser. If you can make it through a week without getting frustrated, then a Chromebook would make a great fit. If you like owning the best, the Chromebook Pixel will remain the best Chromebook for some time.
How can a new Chromebook user cope without their software? The Chrome App Store offers great alternatives for most popular software. Here’s a few of the best options.
- Microsoft Office – use Google’s online suite of Google Docs, Sheets, Slides and Forms or get an Office 365 subscription; Apple customers can use iCloud.
- iTunes – subscribe to Google Play Music or Amazon’s Music service; other music streaming services include Pandora, Rdio, or Spotify.
- Photoshop – while not as powerful, Pixlr handles editing photos online for simple needs and Photoshop’s got an online version as well.
- Calendar – use Google calendar.
- Email – Gmail is the best option for Chromebook users but any online service works.
- Tasks – RemeberTheMilk can handle tasks but so can Google Calendar.
- Note Taking – Evernote is the standard.
- Video Editor – WeVideo is not very good, but it works in an emergency. So does the YouTube video editor.
- Finances – Give Mint a try.
The Last Word
The Chromebook Pixel 2015 looks like an incredible machine. Hardcore ChromeOS fans will love the new Pixel. Developers who create webapps or work in an online editor, or IT managers who want an awesome laptop and need to manage a school’s collection of lower cost Chromebooks, will love it as well. The new MacBook offers Apple fans a luxury notebook for people with simple needs. The Chromebook Pixel offers serious ChromeOS fans a similar luxury option, but it comes with more powerful hardware. Now ChromeOS fans don’t need to compromise on speed and power if they’re willing pay triple the price.
We’re not suggesting that the Chromebook Pixel’s a better option than the MacBook or a high-end Windows PC. However, it offers a great option for the people we’ve included. There’s a large group of users who would likely enjoy using ChromeOS but haven’t tried it yet for lack of opportunity.
For some low cost options, see Notebooks.com for a number of excellent Chromebook options at a lower price.