New Chromebook Pixel: Crystal clear display, keyboard a joy, ultimate in design

Matthew fell in love with the Chromebook Pixel in 2013 so when the price dropped below $1,000 for the new Pixel he immediately ordered one and offers some first impressions.

A couple of days ago Google revealed the new Chromebook Pixel. After convincing my wife I deserved a nice birthday present (combined with selling off my Nexus 9), I placed my order for the Core i5 model that arrived yesterday.

Hardware

I tested the first generation Pixel a couple of years ago and while I loved the design, I couldn't justify the cost at the time. I went through a couple other low cost Chromebooks since then, but was never satisfied with the display quality. The amazing design of the Pixel tainted every Chromebook I tried after testing one for a few weeks.

When I saw the price drop to $999 with improvements in battery life, internal specs, and Chrome OS I knew I had to get the cash to buy one. The retail package is simple, yet classy. The Pixel hardware design is nearly the same as before and that's a good thing.

Weight doesn't bother me at all, but the in-hand feel has a major impact on my sense of quality and design. The Chromebook Pixel feels fantastic in my hands with its dense weight in a fairly compact form factor with brushed aluminum finish.

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There are better, lower priced Windows laptops than my Microsoft Surface Pro 3. However, I absolutely love that hardware design and the way it disappears in a pocket of my bag when I travel is worth the cost to me.

I get that same feeling with the Pixel. Yes, it is priced high for a Chromebook, but if you get utility out of a Chromebook and want the ultimate in design then it just might be worth the cost to you as it is to me.

The display is crystal clear, the speakers are loud and blast through the top of the keyboard, the keyboard is a joy to use with excellent tactile feedback and travel, the glass trackpad rivals Apple trackpads, and there are plenty of ports with a SD expansion slot to satisfy any expansion and extension needs.

Software

The Chromebook Pixel runs Chrome OS and it's an experience anyone with the Chrome browser can match. I edited the photos, typed up these first impressions, and published this post on ZDNet from the new Pixel. For my tech writing job, the Pixel gets the job done.

The Pixel will also be going with me when I travel since I now have 12 free Gogo in-flight WiFi access passes and battery life to keep me up and running across the country. I prefer to rent movies from Google Play (iTunes severely limits where you can play movies) when I travel and unlike my Surface Pro 3 I can download and view them on the Chromebook Pixel.

Summary of my first impressions

I've only spent about six hours using my new Chromebook Pixel so far, but it is exactly what I was hoping for. The hardware is better than I remember it and feels like a $1000 computer.

Chrome OS has come a long way over the last couple of years and it is very functional. I may even tinker with dual booting into a Linux distro at some point in the future, but will wait to see whatZDNet's Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols puts on his before I make any attempt with Linux.

While my two oldest daughters are off at college with MacBooks, my wife and youngest daughter do just about everything at home on low-cost Chromebooks. We now have three Chromebooks in the family and I will continue to test out the Pixel and compare it to my Surface Pro 3.

My Surface Pro 3 is an amazing device and doesn't limit me in any way with my professional engineering job. I found I was able to write faster on a Chromebook in the past and if that is the result with the Pixel then it is likely I will keep both tools in my arsenal.

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