The Chromebook Pixel cost me a lot of money

The Chromebook Pixel cost me a lot of money

Summary: The screen on the new laptop from Google is so drop-dead gorgeous it cost me money I didn't plan on spending,


I ordered a MacBook Air from Apple to replace my aging laptop. I was happy with my decision, even satisfied that I passed on the more expensive MacBook Pro with the fancy Retina display. Then Google sent me the brand new Chromebook Pixel with its gorgeous high-res display, and showed me my purchase was not good enough.

Google Apple
Chromebook Pixel; MacBook Pro Retina display
(Image: ZDNet)

The Retina display on Apple's tablets and laptops has gotten a lot of press, and deservedly so. The crispness of text displayed has to be seen to be appreciated. The improvement of the Retina display over conventional screens is the reason why the former costs so much more.

The extra cost of the Retina display helped me convince myself that the conventional display of the MacBook Air was good enough for my needs, so I passed on the higher-resolution display.

The reasoning behind that decision hit the skids after using the Chromebook Pixel with its Retina-quality screen. Seeing how wonderful everything looks on the Pixel display had me regretting not getting an equal quality display on my new Mac.

The longer I used the Pixel, the more my discontent grew. It reached the point where I couldn't bear the thought of going back to a lower-resolution display, so I cancelled the MacBook Air and bought a 13-inch MacBook Pro with Retina display. I picked it up last night at the Apple Store and I am so happy with the Retina display that I don't mind the extra cost.

So Google's wonderful display on the Chromebook Pixel had the desired effect on me. It made me want a great display, so I bought one. I don't think it ended quite the way Google hoped it would, though.

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Topics: Mobility, Apple, Google, Laptops

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  • The proper direction of tech revolution

    I get higher resolution monitors becoming more standard. "Touchscreening" everything, not so much, especially with motion detection (i.e. leap motion) advancing anyways.
    D.J. 43
    • 100% agree.

      I am not after touch based laptops and desktops but after using a 2880x1800 laptop screen, I am so ready for 5000x3000 on my desktop.

      Saw the new ViewSonic 4K monitor at CES. TAKE MY MONEY!!!!
      • I'm not quite there...

        Pixel count has come to mean about as. Much to me now for these screen as it has for digital cameras 16mp is better than 12 right? Well not if one is on a smartphone and the other on a decent camera with proper lenses and sensors.

        Same thing is starting to happen. I actually don't especially "see" the pixel difference between the ipad 2 and the 3 unless I hold it up to my face and focus on the corners of apps and keys. Similarly when retina mbp's came out I went and had a play... It wasn't the pixel count that impressed, but image quality; truer black, depth of colour, less destructive backlight in the panel itself. The retina couple have half as many pixels for all I care, the effect it had was to make the older mpb seem washed out and faded by comparison. Nothing to do with pixel count.

        They look great, and I've been waiting for some similar screens to become available for my desktop... But more the quality rather than quantity
    • 100% disagree

      Content isn't there yet. Before it is, you and James "I have it hard for Google and Apple" Kendricks will have replaced these devices. Sure, there might be the rare iOS app that's "enhanced" for retina, but that's really just saying it's takes up extra space.

      This is also looking passed the glaring point that Apple to elegantly explained, but made you forget in marketing "retina". The only reason for having a 4K screen is when you start getting into HUGE TVs/projectors where 1080 lines can start becoming "measurable". On an 11" or 13" screen, 1080 is still to the point you will have to be really up in your screens business to see pixels. I have a 21" 1080p monitor that's about the same age as my 32" 720P TV. If the content is optimized to 720p, I can't tell the difference on my monitor or TV.

      In the end, I think you guys just get off on saying your numbers are bigger than the guy next to you because... well...
      • Your first paragraph is an outright lie.

        "Sure, there might be the rare iOS app that's "enhanced" for retina, but that's really just saying it's takes up extra space. "

        It is more true to say "it is the rate iOS app not optimized for retina".

        If you think content is "not there" and applications can't take advantage I'd these hi-DPI screens, you are seriously misinformed. In other words, these careens go beyond just watching videos and content issues with monitors is not the same issue as content issues with 4K TV.
        • Okay...

          Name us some apps where it is worth while to have an overkill of pixels? And these better be common consumer apps and not niche specialized ones.

          Also, while you do that, realize if it's a browser the content you are viewing needs to be as well and if it's photos you need the same.

          The problem is shooting 1080p with a camera means it is not retina. So again...please tell us popular apps where it is beneficial to have retina. Remember, the content viewed and created need to both be done at over 1080p, otherwise your retina display is as useful as your 4k display with rabbit ears. And if it's text I shall cry...
          • Um how about any vector drawing app?

            Or for that matter, just about anything with scalable type? ( aka pretty near all of them.)
          • Great example

            Because the majority of iPhones out there have vector drawing apps on them... Try again.
          • Great example, yes

            because is not about not having vector drawing apps, but about displaying vectorial graphics/elements. We uses them in our development, and yes, the Retina Display makes a difference.

            So I'm not sure what's your point. Seems you believe there is no added value in term of display, you're clearly wrong. Or should we wait until Microsoft catch up?
          • Smaller window

            Isn't that one of the features advertised to video editors in that they can have the 1080p in a smaller window along with the other editing windows?
          • All of them

            Pretty simple request. The user experience benefits on all apps with crisper text and graphics by lowering eye strain.
      • And touchscreens...

        I find it quite funny that you both want high res screens, but not touch. I guess you enjoy talking to Siri or Google Now just a little too much. Personally, I find speech recognition is a lot further away than quality touchscreens. Actually, I think most people would agree with me given the usage numbers of touchscreens (even if they are primarily found on mobile devices) vs. people using speech recognition (oh wait, that's a standard feature plenty of studies have shown are rarely used by the very same mobile devices).

        Now I understand desktop quality software isn't optimized for touch yet... oh wait. I forgot. That's what Microsoft is doing with its software and neither of you will get near Microsoft with a 10 foot pole. Funny how that works. Evolution in tech is only relevant when it's "your brand", but it's a dead-end when it's not. Just curious... are touchscreen prevalent in your favorite Sci-Fi movies? How about compared to voice recognition? Last I checked a huge portion of Sci-Fi movies are giving voice commands (exactly what we have now) where as touch is EVERY where in Sci-Fi. When people can solve the problem of understanding regional slang maybe... just maybe we can think about it with AI. Until then... don't get sixes and sevens with your "awesome displays" that cannot understand what you're saying.
        • Have you used a MacBook?

          It has a multitouch trackpad that works just like a touchscreen without all the finger marks.

          Frankly I would not want a touch screen on it, I have all my gestures without the disadvantages.
        • You lie on most every post.

          I use MS tools frequently and really like Win7 and WP7. I just really do not see a need for touch on a 27" monitor on my desk. Lifting my hand up to interact with it all day is an ergonomic nightmare come true.

          I have always wanted more pixels on a bigger screen. When 15" monitors were standard, I used 21" CRTs. When 30" LCDs became available fire 3K, I upgraded.

          I have never wanted my phone or tablet UI 100% replicated on my desktop.
          • Wow...

            @rbethell- yes, I have used a MacBook. Clearly you have not used touchscreens for how the general public will be using them... silliness and fun (aka "mobile"/simple games and keeping youth entertained. I'd LOVE to see a kid finger paint with the same level of interest on your MacBook as they would on even an iPad, Surface, Nexus 10, or anything else with a relatively decent sized touchscreen. Last I checked, you can throw a 10" tablet in a kids hands and keep them busy during a siblings performance... can't really do that with a full laptop that requires a touchpad/keyboard. So congrats on you personally not wanting to touch things. Based on data (huge growth in mobile/touch screen devices and more interest in Windows 8 touchscreen devices) it would suggest you will be "small fish" in the big scheme of things.

            @Burizer- First- I initially replied to D.J., not to you Bruizer. Congrats on using Windows products. I never said you did not.
            Second- good for you for wanting more pixels. The reality is such high pixel density on any kind of UI means scaling has to take place if the screen is not sufficiently large. For your average user, 720p on a mobile device or screen under probably 24" and 1080p up until you're reaching huge TV/projectors will look virtually the same. Unless you have super human vision or enjoy fake and/or distorted looking images on screens, there is no reason to have extreme pixel density unless you are in some tiny sector of humanity in which it is necessary for schematics or something. Heck, the world was happy with reading newspaper and print for how many years? That sure isn't "ultra high res". How many people do you hear complaining that the 167 or whatever DPI on the base Kindle e-reader causes blurry or uncomfortable to view text? Actually, I hear people complaining more about reading on LCD screens than e-ink.

            By the way... where have I lied? Because your opinions do not align with where stats are does not mean I have lied. It means your preference is different, that's all and that's a perfectly healthy thing as long as you don't start using them as support for facts if that's your only case... and you're not doing that so I don't see anything wrong.
          • I love to see the methodology of your survey

            by which you've determined how 'Clearly you have not used touchscreens for how the general public will be using them...'

            Or maybe you can just point us to something that validates your self-determined position as arbiter of how people will use touchscreens.
          • You want to see it?

            I'm looking at all the most downloaded apps on devices that are geared for touchscreens- iOS, Android, Windows Phone, Windows 8. Give me a better metric than what is currently bought on touch devices and we can talk.

            And no, I'm not being silly and looking at it categorically because that's not what we are interested in... if there was general interest in a vector app (or something else that would actually 'require' ultra high resolution) it would obviously make any of the general lists. These are just about always consumption apps and just about always games (and social networking and youtube).

            I like how people are responding to me. Clearly a number of people forget that the average person can hardly tell the difference between displays. Heck, my aunt just asked me for the third time yesterday if there was a difference between an iPhone and a smartphone. Technically, the average person is likely using a low-end or mid-level smartphone. If they are using a high-end phone, it's also pretty good odds that it's about a year old or more. I really hope I don't need to justify that claim because it should be pretty apparent.

            Besides, as I've repeatedly said it's all about the content being viewed. The number of people with devices capable of capturing ultra high resolutions for viewing is really quite small. Where's my data there? The fact that those types of devices aren't flying off shelves and walking around you constantly see people using smartphones and tablets for photography and recording. I was at the zoo today and literally saw one person other than myself with an actual digital camera... everyone else was using a smartphone or tablet. Yup... I need a 4k monitor or retina display to view my 5 megapixel jpegs I'm uploading to facebook.

            Funny thing... ask at your next family reunion your non-tech relatives if they can accurately tell you what it means to have a 4k TV or retina display. Heck... I'd give them a 50/50 shot in knowing why 1080p is better than 720p. That's not to insult them, it's to open your eyes to the fact that the general public really is uneducated. These aren't things that are taught in schools and your typical customer service rep isn't likely to get into (assuming they know which they probably don't based on my experiences) nor will the customer remember.
          • super human vision

            See, I am short sighted, I wear glasses. According to common sense my vision is impaired.

            Yet, if you have "normal" vision, it is guaranteed, that at closer distance, my eyes will resolve more. Where I can see lots of detail, you can't even focus!

            I know for myself, that higher resolution puts less strain on my eyes. I have always preferred larger, higher resolution displays. Why settle for the common denominator junk that manufacturers throw at us. Years ago laptops screen resolution was better than what it is today, except Apple.

            Touch is not going to compensate for bad displays. Microsoft has read that blueprint wrong..
          • I am short sighted as well...

            First, I completely agree with you that most low-end displays are junk. Sadly, enough people cannot tell the difference and thus manufacturers can get away with bundling them. I will never ever claim otherwise. My claim is over whether or not it is worthwhile to have ultra high resolution on a small screen. That's all.

            I'm not entirely sure where you are getting your information that higher resolution helps with eye strain, which I'm not even debating. You have to then also compare display types which we aren't all using the LCD, LED, etc. technology. Yes, display type actually matters. That said, I would suggest doing a web search on the matter because, of the results I read, none of them mentioned that higher resolution will help with eye strain- large text was though. If it helps you, more power to you, but that might just be coincidence because of one of the other suggestions I did see similar across a few different sources.

            I'm not sure where this has gotten onto Microsoft as I've never said Microsoft is doing displays right or wrong. Until recently, Microsoft didn't even make displays. My whole entire issue came from DJ's claim that a) higher resolutions on everything is the way of the future and b) that touchscreens are not. The amount of content that is present is relatively tiny and what is there isn't what people are clearly using. I personally wouldn't even suggest to a lover of 3D movies to pay extra for 3D TV service because what's there is still quite tiny.

            I argue that touchscreens are in fact where people are going and not motion (nor speech). I think we can all agree that there is too much slang in language for a human to differentiate it all, let alone AI. Heck, if you've worked with the urban population, there are certain words that can mean positive or negative depending on the context (such as the word 'bad'). I'm guessing DJ hasn't used the XBox Kinect before if he is claiming motion is the way of the future and I use mine several times a week! Touch...well, as Steve Jobs himself said, we "all" have the greatest stylus and pointing device known in the world and that's a finger. If people didn't like touch we wouldn't be eating up touch devices.
  • oops

    evolution, not revolution
    D.J. 43