I've been using Google's latest Chrome-OS-powered Chromebook laptop computer, the Pixel, for the past three months. At Google's annual I/O developer conference in May, the company distributed Chromebook Pixels to more than 6,000 attendees, and I walked away with a Pixel review unit. Though I don't feel qualified to write a full, in-depth review -- at least not a good one, as I've used the same two laptops for the past four years -- I do have a number of noteworthy impressions to share.
The Chromebook Pixel is unique, because it's the first official "high-end" piece of hardware to run Google's Chrome OS. The Pixel is meant to appeal to the MacBook Air sect. And it's made by Google, not one of the company's hardware partners (Samsung, Acer or HP).
After spending a few months with the Chromebook -- working with it in the office, using it on planes and trains, and toting the machine with me to the beach -- I've found a lot to love about the sleek machine. And a lot to, well, not love. At all.
Here's a quick list of four things I love about the Chromebook Pixel, followed by four things I hate.
Why I love the Chromebook Pixel
1) The Chromebook Pixel is beautifully designed
I love the look and feel of the Chromebook Pixel. It's elegant, it's sleek and it just feels good in your hand while you carry it or clack away on its keys.
The machine is skillfully cut from anodized aluminum, and the hinge that connects the display to the keyboard and base is a "finely-tuned piano hinge" that looks really cool. It also works very well; it's extremely responsive to touch and, after three months of regular use, the hinge is just as sturdy as the first time I opened it. You can't see any of the Chromebook's screws, vents, speaker ports or antennae. The backlit keyboard is simple, functional and good looking.
A thin horizontal panel atop the rear side of the display lights up in rainbow of colors when you first turn the Pixel on; in blue when it's awake and in use, and in red when the battery needs a charge. It's kind of like Google's take on the iconic glowing Apple logo on all its laptops, but not so "in your face, look-what-brand-of-computer-I-choose-to-use."
I do have two complaints about the Chromebook Pixels design. The SD card sticks out just enough to be slightly annoying when a memory card is in place. (I've had it pop out on me a couple of times when I was quickly trying to pack up my machine and I accidentally tapped the card, which ejects itself when you push it into the laptop hard enough.) Also, the Pixel is just a bit heavier than I expected or would have liked it to be. (The official weight is 3.35lbs., compared to the similarly-sized, 13-inch MacBook Air's 2.96 lbs.)
Both of these complaints are admittedly minor. After some regular use, I got used to both the memory-card slot and the weight. They don't bother me much anymore.