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Christmas Gift Guide

The new Google Chromebook Pixel

Meet the new Chromebook Pixel, from Google. It's a speedy, attractive notebook that runs Chrome OS, the Web-focused operating system based on Google's popular Web browser.

The base model packs a 2.2GHz 5th-Generation Intel Core i5 processor (previously codenamed Broadwell), 8GB of RAM, and 32GB of storage, for $999 (that converts to about £664, or AU$1,311).

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The new Pixel bears much in common with the model it's replacing, right down to the gorgeous  2,560-by-1,700-pixel resolution display. And the screen density of 239 pixels per inch makes for a very pleasurable reading and viewing experience. The laptop also has a 3:2 aspect ratio, which lends itself well to scrolling through Web pages.

Caption by / Photo by Josh Miller/CNET

Working exclusively in a browser window might not be as odd as it seems: I spend most of my days with Chrome maximized across multiple monitors, and quite a few of the apps I depend on -- Evernote and Spotify, to start -- can be reached on the Web, too. But it certainly isn't for everyone; I still haven't found a Web-based image editor to love.

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The keyboard is spacious, and the keys are comfortable to type on (if a bit mushy). But it's also a little different: the caps-lock key has been replaced by a dedicated search button, so you'll have to press that and the Alt key if you want to yell at people on the Internet.

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The glass trackpad is smooth and accurate, and getting around the Web is a breeze.

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The Chrome browser isn't ideal for touch, but that didn't stop me from pinching and panning about the Web on the very responsive touchscreen.

Caption by / Photo by Josh Miller/CNET

Here's the other star of the show: the USB-C port. You can use it to transfer files, connect it to displays, and also use it to charge the laptop.

This new connector aims to be the one port to rule them all, and while we'll need to tote around a host of adapters until other devices catch up, it's a welcome change. The Pixel also offers a pair of USB 3.0 ports.

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The Pixel sports a second USB-C port on the opposite side, alongside the SD card reader.

Caption by / Photo by Josh Miller/CNET

The Pixel is by no means bulky, but at 3.3 pounds it's certainly no featherweight either. It's also 0.6-inch thick: not at all bad, but not exactly svelte when measured up against the competition.

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The funky light bar returns. And like the Pixel's predecessor, it's mostly there to look cool.

Caption by / Photo by Josh Miller/CNET

But wait, there's more! Double-tap on the light bar when the lid is closed, and it'll give you an estimate of the remaining battery capacity.

Caption by / Photo by Josh Miller/CNET

When the lid is closed, the light bar stays off -- even when charging. That's one less random glowing light to worry about.

Caption by / Photo by Josh Miller/CNET

The Pixel's "piano hinge" makes opening the laptop with a single finger effortless.

Caption by / Photo by Josh Miller/CNET

The laptop is also all but devoid of branding. The light bar and this Chrome badge are nice, subtle touches.

Caption by / Photo by Josh Miller/CNET

If you need a bit more power, Google is also offering a version that packs a 2.4GHz Core i7 processor, 16GB of RAM, and a 64GB SSD, for $1,299 (roughly £863, or AU$1,704).

Caption by / Photo by Josh Miller/CNET
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