But the Pixel has an Achilles heel that becomes apparent shortly after you try to travel with it: Battery life sucks. Sort of.
I say "sort of" because I've figured out how to maximize Chromebook Pixel life so it lasts a reasonable amount of time: Decrease the screen brightness to its lowest level. That's easy to do, since the Chromebook has built-in keyboard keys for display brightness. But, as mentioned earlier, the best part about the Pixel is its beautiful display. Frankly, the Pixel's display doesn't look all that beautiful when it's so dim you have to squint to see details.
Google's official battery life number is "up to 5 hours of active use." (In comparison, Apple cites the 13-inch Macbook Air's battery life as "up to 10 hours iTunes movie playback," which roughly translates to "active use.") Google's estimate is accurate...if I bump the screen brightness down to 25 percent of its full capacity and I don't stream any multimedia content. Yesterday, I bumped down my screen brightness and got almost exactly five hours of continuous Pixel use, but all I did was write in a Google Doc and occasionally surf the Web for links. Not bad.
Last night I recharged the machine. This morning, I bumped up the screen brightness to 75 percent. I worked on writing this story in a Google Doc and occasionally surfed the Web. I got about 4 hours of battery life, or an hour less than when the screen was at 25 percent brightness. Again, not terrible.
Then I recharged the machine again, left the display brightness at 75 percent and turned on the Indians vs. Twins baseball game on MLB.tv. The machine lasted less than three hours before dying. Not good.
The Chromebook Pixel also takes a long time to charge. Using the block charger that came with the Pixel and a standard power outlet in my living room, it takes just over three hours to fully charge the dead Chromebook -- more if you use it while it's charging.
To sum that up, in my experience the Chromebook Pixel gets about 5 hours of relatively light use and less than three hours of heavy use. That's disappointing for a machine built for road warriors who don't always have access to power outlets.
2) Chromebook Pixel is HOT -- and not in a good way
The Chromebook Pixel gets hot when you stream content. Really, really hot. Like too-hot-to-keep-on-your-lap-while-streaming hot.
It's even worse when the machine is charging. As mentioned earlier, you're not going to get much streaming time if you don't plug it in while in use, so your Chromebook is going to get very hot while streaming. There's no way around it.
It's not uncommon for laptops to warm up when in use or while charging, but the Chromebook Pixel gets hotter than any computer I've ever used. Google touts Pixel's "active cooling with no visible vents" and its "finely tuned piano hinge that's engineered...as a heatsink to help keep the machine cool." Maybe Google should've made those vents just a bit more visible, because the piano hinge doesn't "sink" nearly enough heat.
3) Chromebook Pixel and Chrome OS lack the apps I need
The whole point of the Chrome OS is to be as lightweight as possible, so it runs rapidly and smoothly. Chrome "apps" are Web apps that run in the browser. Many traditional pieces of Windows or Mac software are not compatible with Chrome, though. There are positives and negatives to this approach and many workarounds.
For me, Chrome just doesn't cut it. I can't use it alone to do my job. I need another PC or Mac in addition to the Chromebook Pixel. My IT department doesn't officially support Chrome, so that's a problem. Some IT departments presumably do support Chrome devices, and Chrome does support some VPNs, so it's not fair to say that the OS isn't IT friendly.