​Chromebook Pixel, the Rolls-Royce of Chromebooks, is getting a refresh

Google won't confirm it, but it's clear that there's a new version of the Chromebook Pixel on its way.
Written by Steven Vaughan-Nichols, Senior Contributing Editor

Most people are happy with inexpensive Chromebooks. Some people, and I'm one of them, want top-of-the-line hardware and were willing to pay $1,449 for the Chromebook Pixel back in 2013. Now, Google will soon be releasing a Chromebook Pixel 2.

The next-generation Chromebook will look a lot like the current model.
Despite requests, Google has not confirmed this. Still, at Teamwork 2015, a conference for Google for Work system administrators and partners, Renée Niemi, Google's Director of the Android and Chrome Global Business Unit within Enterprise, said, "We do have a new Pixel coming out and it will be coming out soon. We will be selling it but I just have to set your expectations: this is a development platform. This is really a proof of concept. We don't make very many of these -- we really don't. And [...] our developers and our Googlers consume 85% of what we produce. But yes, we do have a new Pixel coming out."

OMG Chrome's Joey-Elijah Sneddon, which broke the story, wrote, "As before, the Chromebook Pixel 2 will be a development machine primarily aimed at developers. It won't be pitched at, much less priced for, regular consumers."

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That's fine. No one who ever paid the Pixel's premium price could be described as a regular consumer. In my experience, Pixel owners are serious programmers or writers. Linux's creator Linus Torvalds, for example, is a big Chromebook Pixel fan as is Greg Kroah-Hartman, who's the Linux stable kernel maintainer.

Why do we love the Pixel so much? Torvalds spoke for many of us when he praised the Pixel's screen. With its 1.8GHz Intel Core i5 processor, 4 GBs of RAM a 64-GB SSD for local storage and a terabyte of free Google Drive cloud storage for three years, it's also blazingly fast with plenty of room for data and programs.

In addition, you can run Linux on a Chromebook alongside ChromeOS. Lately, it's become easy to run Linux and ChromeOS on the same display on a Chromebook. For Linux developers, the Pixel, high price-tag and all, is a great machine.

So, what can we expect from the Chromebook 2? Good question. We don't have good answers yet.

OMG Chrome speculates, based on a bug report for the unreleased Samus development board which appears to be the Pixel 2's motherboard, that the next generation Pixel will come in the same size and format. It will use the forthcoming USB 3.1 'Type C' port. This new USB port is capable of transmitting and receiving up to 10 gigabits per second.

We can make some assumptions about the new Pixel. First, since it appears to have the same size format, it will come with at least its current 2560 x 1700 resolution touchscreen 12.85" display. It's possible that it will be upgraded to 4K's 3,840-by-2,160 resolution.

That's in part because it's a safe bet that the Pixel will be upgrading from its current i5 to a fifth-generation Intel Broadwell chip. This chipset can come with the Intel's Iris Graphics 6100, which supports 4K graphics.

I expect the new Pixel will come with a 2.4GHz Core i7 chip. Even though the chip will be faster, Intel claims that it will get at least an hour more life than its Haswell ancestor.

I think it's certain that it will add 802.11ac and Bluetooth 4 to its Wi-Fi suite. I strongly suspect the 4G version will continue to support Verizon.

As for storage and memory, I don't foresee any changes. 64GBs of local SSD storage and 4GBs of RAM is plenty for Chrome OS.

Finally, I think the prices -- $1,299 for the Wi-Fi-only version and $1,449 for the LTE model -- will be changing. Google aren't selling Pixels to make money from them. They're producing them so top developers, both inside and outside of Google, can have the best possible Chromebook experience.

I wish it were cheaper. Still, that won't stop me from ordering one the minute the Pixel 2 is available. Almost two years after I got my original Pixel, it's still my go-to laptop, and I expect the Pixel 2 to be a worthy upgrade to it.

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