Google took a page from Microsoft’s playbook and created its first company-produced computer, the Chromebook Pixel. Although there have been Chromebooks before, all of them were produced via partnerships with second-party hardware manufacturers, most notably Samsung and Acer. With the Pixel, Google announces its first independent foray into the hardware market (commercially, at least; the Google Glass prototype may have been produced first, although the finished product has yet to be released).
Chromebook Pixel Specs – Price Worthy or Not?
The Google Chromebook Pixel is powered by the following laptop parts: A 3rd gen 1.8 GHz dual-core Intel Core i5 processor, 4 GB of DDR3 RAM, and an integrated Intel HD 4000 GPU. It has 32 GB of storage space, a Mini DisplayPort, two USB 2.0 slots, Bluetooth 3.0 for gadget-to-gadget connectivity, and 4G for Internet connectivity.
It all sounds good enough, but for $1,299, you’d expect more high-end hardware. It’s commendable that Google is finally pushing the Chromebook brand into higher spec brackets (previous iterations have all been of the low-end budget variety), but the price tag could stand to be lowered a bit more.
One-Upping the Almighty MacBook?
To (possibly) justify the price, Google sought to do one over on Apple and make the Pixel’s screen more densely packed with, er, pixels than the other company’s vaunted Retina Display technology. While Apple’s similarly-sized MacBook features an already impressive 2560 x 1600 pixels at 227 ppi, the Chromebook Pixel has 2560 x 1700, pushing the pixel density to 239 ppi.
While it does look good on paper, the reality of it is that the Chromebook Pixel’s screen stands at a 3:2 aspect ratio – which means that it has a higher vertical space (i.e. taller) than the current trend of 16:9 (i.e. widescreen) laptop screens – so naturally it’ll have a higher vertical pixel count. Also, when you think about it, 2560 x 1600 isn’t all that far from 2560 x 1700, leaving us back at square one vis-à-vis the pricing issue.
Silver Linings (of this) Chromebook
On the other hand, if the price tag isn’t that big of an issue for you (especially if you’re a Google fan), it’s easy to see why Google is so confident of its product. The internal laptop parts mentioned above are fairly high mid-end; and the laptop is equipped with 4G technology, which is only apropos considering its operating system, the Chrome OS, is web-based.
Speaking of web-based functionality, the 3:2 aspect ratio of the screen would seem quite right for what the Chromebook Pixel is built to do. While widescreen has its strong points, scrolling down through webpages isn’t one of them. With its taller screen, users may find that browsing and scrolling through webpages is far easier and more natural.
It would also seem that Google is experimenting with a near-future-proof product. The sufficiently high laptop components may last for a few years more before they become obsolete; the Chrome OS on the Pixel automatically updates itself, and there’s reason to believe that Google may optimize the updates for the Pixel and other forthcoming products that’ll match the Pixel’s specifications; and the 3:2 screen is rather close to the IMAX aspect ratio, which could very well be the next step in standardized filmmaking ratios (or at least have movies that switch to that aspect ratio every now and then à la Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight films).
Looking at it that way, the Chromebook die-hard might just want to consider a purchase. For everyone else, other laptops might be better investments.