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Google Chromebook Pixel review

  • Google Chromebook Pixel
  • Google Chromebook Pixel
  • Google Chromebook Pixel
  • Google Chromebook Pixel
  • Google Chromebook Pixel

Verdict:

With its beautiful retina display, this would be a serious MacBook rival if it wasn’t for Chrome OS

Review Date: 28 Feb 2013

Price when reviewed: £1,049

Supplier: http://www.play.google.com

Reviewed By: Katharine Byrne

Our Rating 3 stars out of 5

The Chromebook Pixel is the best Chromebook we’ve ever seen – but then it should be given it costs three times what the competition does. You can see where your money has gone, though; from the outside, it’s a minimalist work of art. Its smooth, grey industrial lines are accented solely by a thin LED light on the back of the lid that flashes briefly with Google’s quartet of red, blue, yellow and green when opened and then glows a pale blue.

Google Chromebook Pixel
Mixing modern engineering with a retro shape, the Chromebook Pixel looks fantastic

It measures a svelte 16.2mm thick and weighs just 1.5kg, but the main highlight is its beautiful 12.85in touchscreen. It’s made of Gorilla Glass and has a razor sharp 2,560x1,700 retina display, giving everything an astounding level of detail. Perhaps its best feature, though, is that it’s all packed into a square-ish 3:2 aspect ratio. This is a world away from the 16:9 widescreen configurations we’ve become accustomed to, and is far better suited to the web as it exists today.

It’s incredibly bright and responsive too, and while Chrome OS isn’t quite as touch-orientated as Windows 8, swiping through its app-style menu and scrolling through the Chrome WebStore has never been so simple.

Google Chromebook Pixel
It look great from any angle, though the lid doesn't fold back any further than this

We preferred using the touchscreen to the all-in-one touchpad, but that certainly wasn’t through any fault in the touchpad’s design. Rather, the touchpad’s smooth surface was a joy to use, and it provided a solid amount of click from almost anywhere on its surface. Multi-touch gestures like pinch-zooming were a little temperamental, but two-finger scrolling worked perfectly.

Typing on the Pixel was even more comfortable, as all its Chiclet-style keys were very well-spaced and provided plenty of tactile feedback. It’s lost its Function key labels in favour of a row of media buttons across the top of the keyboard, but all of the unique web-related buttons from previous Chromebooks make an appearance here. It also retains a single Search key to help pinpoint your favourite apps and web pages without taking your hands away from the keyboard; that's at the expense of the Caps Lock key though, which is annoyingly relegated to Alt+Search.

Google Chromebook Pixel
The keyboard is great, even is the layout is a little eccentric

It’s not just a fancy screen that sets the Pixel apart from other Chromebooks, as there’s some fast hardware squeezed into its tiny chassis to try and justify that price. Unlike previous Chromebooks which economised on hardware to help keep their sub-£250 price, the Pixel has 4GB of RAM and a 1.8GHz Intel Core i5 processor. Google has been vague on the exact details of its processor, but it looks to be a Core i5-3427U, the same processor we believe powers Apple’s 13in MacBook Air.

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