Chromebook Pixel - Google’s Unreal Wonder (Part 2)

3/26/2013 3:43:25 PM

The embossed keyboard continues to get hotter and Google is mainly no exception with its latest Chromebook. The main keys are embossed in a slightly concave area, and they have comfortable size and distance between each other. Each key has a great feel and resistance. Typing on this computer is very interesting.

However, function keys stay on the number pad, and separate buttons to adjust the volume and brightness, etc. are another story. They are evenly spaced and harder than other keys. This may not be a nuisance, because you will not use them as often as the rest, but they stick together, which makes it harder to find them by touch. Fortunately, all is backlit, so identifying them in the dark should not a problem.

We also hope to have dedicated Home and End keys, after seeing that other options of Chrome OS such as Ctrl + Alt + Up or Down are a bit uncomfortable. However, you will quickly learn how to overcome these rather small shortcomings and enjoy the great keyboard. Fortunately, the trackpad is equally good as well.

Google Chromebook Pixel’s backlit keyboard

Google Chromebook Pixel’s backlit keyboard

It is made of glass with dark color and is located in the center of the place where you put your wrist on, which makes it slightly move to the right compared with the long bar. It features an anti-glare coating, but still feels pretty smooth, which leads to a good feeling with strokes. Of course, with a 12.85-inch touchscreen, you may not find yourself using it as often as you think.


On the top is the IPS 12.85-inch LCD, 2,560x1,700 and with it, we cannot help thinking of the 13.3 inch screen, 2,560x1,600 which is very similar to the 13-inch MacBook Pro with Retina display. It's small but packed by 100 pixels more vertically, giving it a higher pixel density: 239ppi. Naturally, that's not the full story here, and those who truly love the density will know the resolution rate will be equivalent to the 3:2 ratio. In other words, it's a bit high.



The 16:9 aspect ratio (or close to it) is the mainstream between the non- Mac computers now, but even knowing that, this device has a very high feel. However, we do not get bothered. As mentioned above, the keyboard is quite large, and based on the fact that the Chrome OS is not very friendly with multitasking with multiple windows, we rarely want a wider screen.

In fact, it is our small and only worry about this screen. On the other hand, we have nothing to work with the screen. Of course, it has high resolution, sometimes we felt strange, making the pixels disappear basically. In reality, the Chrome OS is simple and neat, which looks great when presented with such clarity, but we cannot stop complaining about the occasional excesses of white space that is becoming increasingly popular among Google websites. With a high pixel-density screen like this, we had a feeling it is used improperly.

Of course, that is until you play the 4K footage that Google wisely stored on the computer, you will be stunned by its wonder – even though it is shown in the resolution which is more than half of its natural resolution.

This is the LCD screen, mounted behind a Gorilla Glass, so glare can be a problem if your work environment consists of bright lights in front. However, the reflection seems to be equal to the screen fitted with the latest optical technology – that is, there is no reflection effect seen on previous LCD screen. Contrast is quite good from any angle, even though color accuracy decreases if you look at it from the angle which is too high or too low, with everything quickly becoming pinkish. It’s quite nice.

And finally, this is indeed a screen with touch support, which we did not know that we would need on the Chromebook and actually we said that we are still not sure. We will discuss it in more detail in the software section below.

Performance and battery life

Again, we need to talk about the Intel Core i5 1.8GHz processor here, which is a little trivial compared to that of most high-end laptops. However, it proved to be so powerful to run Chrome OS. It is combined with 4GB of DDR3 RAM and integrated graphics through the Intel HD 4000 chipset.

Not outstanding, but it runs the browser with confidence. And really that's all what it can do with the limited choice of applications available for the Chrome. Everything we tried was running fine, although after long time of use, we found the heavier websites started to become slightly lagging. However, that is not what restarting the browser can’t resolve.

High-definition videos are smoothly played, although when we were playing games, the device became quite warm. The fan vents lie under the joints; a thin and open piece which fortunately does not emit a lot of heat into your lap. It is easy to see, but it is not very big or annoying, and as maybe you cannot do heavy work here, do not expect to hear it often.

High-definition videos are smoothly played, although when we were playing games, the device became quite warm.

High-definition videos are smoothly played, although when we were playing games, the device became quite warm.

When it comes to battery life, Google estimates the 59Wh battery will provide "up to" 5 hours of continuous use. Indeed it can. In the standard battery test, with repeating one video at fixed brightness, it lasted 4 hours 8 minutes for the Wi-Fi model. The LTE model, with LTE antenna on, lost to the former 30 minutes, which was about 3 hours 34 minutes.

Unfortunately, these figures are quite poor. The 13-inch MacBook Pro with Retina lasted more than 6 hours in the same battery test, while the 13-inch MacBook Air and the latest Samsung Chromebook outlived about 30 minutes.


As mentioned above, the two models of the Chromebook Pixel include dual-band 802.11a/b/g/n MIMO, which means that you will have more or less the optimal speed regardless of the type of router you are connecting.

Of course, upgrading to the LTE version of $1,449 means you can avoid these routers. This includes the Qualcomm MDM9600 chipset to get the LTE band 13, intended only for Verizon in the United States. Therefore, we tested it in two different LTE markets on both sides of the ocean. Speed ​​varies from place to place, but it is generally equal or exceeds the rate at which we can see from other mobile devices compatible with Verizon.

Regarding the possibility of more practical connections, it is worth noting that the modem takes about 30 seconds to reconnect after the laptop resumes from suspended mode, a bit annoying but of course it is not slower than your average LTE USB modem. Verizon also includes 100MB of free data per month for the first two years of owning your Chromebook, but then you will have to pay for a data package from Verizon.

Oh, and the Pixel lacks an Ethernet port, and does not include the adapter either. We tried a few standard USB Ethernet adapters and all worked without a problem.

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