Google has launched the Chromebook Pixel, its first Chrome OS laptop developed completely in-house, in an attempt to take on Apple’s MacBook Pro Retina. Its 12.85in display has a 3:2 aspect ratio and massively high 2,560×1,700 resolution which Google hopes will persuade customers to part with a wallet-sapping £1049.
Built into a metal unibody chassis and weighing a fairly minuscule 1.5kg, the Chromebook Pixel is more than a little reminiscent of Apple’s laptops – even down to the black Chiclet-style keyboard and all-in-one glass touchpad. It has a minimal selection of inputs, with an SD/MMC card reader on one side and a Mini DisplayPort, two USB ports and a power port on the other. There’s no Ethernet port, so you’ll have to use the integrated Wi-Fi to get online.
Unlike previous Chromebooks, which used either Intel Atom or ARM-based Samsung Exynos processors, the Pixel is powered by a Core i5 CPU running at 1.8GHz and paired with 4GB of RAM – this is a major performance boost for Chrome OS, which typically uses less power than a Windows-powered machine. There’s also a 32GB SSD for storage, as Google expects Chromebook owners to live in the Cloud rather than store their files locally.
All that power, combined with the high-resolution screen, will significantly impact battery life – Google claims the Chromebook Pixel is good for five hours of continuous use, which is a far cry from the 9+ hours we’ve seen from previous models.
It’s the screen that’s the star of the show, with a 400nit brightness rating and a pixel density of 239ppi, which means you can’t see individual pixels from a normal working distance. It’s also touch-enabled, although we’ve never used Chrome OS on a touchscreen device so we don’t know how much of a difference it will make in general use.
We think the Chromebook Pixel will be a tough sell for Google – not being able to run applications, except for those downloaded through the Chrome store, will be a major stumbling block for many. It’s the same problem Microsoft has encountered with Windows RT, and when you can buy a MacBook Air for less we think the company may have a fight on its hands.
Eager Chrome OS fans with deep pockets can pick up a Chromebook Pixel from theGoogle Play Storetoday, with units expected to ship in around a week.
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