News / Reviews

Google’s new Chromebook Pixel high-end but expensive


Kyle Wiggers, kw372312@ohio.edu

Google reaffirmed its dedication to all things cloud. After considerable speculation (and a leaked video or two), the company officially unveiled the newest addition to its Chrome OS family of devices, the Chromebook Pixel. The Pixel is  unmistakably a premium device, featuring an ultra-high-resolution display (2560 x 1700), 4gb of RAM, and an Intel Core i5 processor. This marks a departure from what has consistently been Google’s Chromebook strategy: an emphasis on cheap, affordable, almost disposable laptops. As of Feb. 20, the most expensive Chromebook was HP’s Pavilion 14, which retails for $330. With a base price of $1299, the company is positioning the Chromebook Pixel as a viable high-end alternative to computers such as Apple’s MacBook.

Although the Chromebook Pixel’s specs are adequate (the device has two USB 2.0 ports, integrated graphics, a Mini DisplayPort, an SD card slot, and the standard wireless accoutrements), Google’s package deal seems to emphasize an on-line, always on workflow. With the purchase of every Chromebook Pixel comes 1TB of Google Drive storage for three years and a Google+ app, which uploads full-resolution photos directly from attached SD cards to remote storage. And alongside the company’s Wi-Fi–only base model, Google is making available a Chromebook Pixel with built-in Verizon LTE connectivity for an additional $200, ensuring constant connection to the Chrome OS ecosystem.

The Chromebook isn’t without deficiencies. Google says the battery lasts five hours at the maximum, and performance is, according to The Verge reporter Sean Hollister, disappointingly inconsistent. And there’s the price. At $1299, the Chromebook Pixel is nearly $300 more expensive than Apple’s MacBook Air, which has comparable (and, in some respects, superior) hardware. That’s a substantial amount of money for what amounts to a glorified, albeit quality, Google portal. However, the Chromebook Pixel is a saving if the Google Drive storage is factored: three years of 1TB storage costs $1800 alone. The device begs the question, though: will consumers pay more for subsidized on-line gigabytes and services or a more capable device with local storage? Only sales will tell.

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