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CNET First Look
Brilliant Pixel resolution, brutal Pixel priceThe Chromebook Pixel is Google's first in-house-designed laptop, and it's one sharp-looking device. Topping it off is an amazing touch screen with Retina Display-level resolution, but there's still room for the Pixel to improve.
Google is not known for much hardware besides its sleek Nexus phones and some fancy futuristic glasses. But the sleek Chromebook Pixel changes all that. I am Seth Rosenblatt for CNET. And this first look, we're taking a quick tour of Google's first laptop made without a manufacturing partner. The result is not unlike Microsoft Surface, a sharp, sexy device with some unique features and a ridiculously high price point. And boy, I mean, high. Let's just get the facts out of the way. The Pixel runs on a dual core 1.8 GHz Intel Core i5 processor, with integrated Intel HD 4,000 graphics and 4 gigs of memory. It's a huge step up for Chromebook power, although, not super high-end either. Speaking of graphics, the screen on this thing is slightly bonkers. It supports a 3 to 2 ratio for easier vertical scrolling. The touchscreen clocks in at 239 pixels per inch, edging past the 13-inch MacBook Pro's 227 PPI retina display. Google crammed 2 microphones, an HD camera and a light detector above the screen. The two mics are for better noise cancellation but Google also tapped a third mic below the keyboard to help cut out typing noises. On the outside, the pixel has 2 USB ports, a mini display port for external monitors, an SD card slot and a combination headphone mic jack. Google promises around 5 hours of battery life, just in shabby. But that mini display port, Bluetooth 3.0 and USB 2.0, meaning the pixel is actually a version behind the latest standards. That's a problem. Why build a high-end laptop that only meets average ports. However, it's been beautifully engineered and feels solid even if it is a sketch heavy at 3.3 pounds. There are no visible screws holding the chassy together. The track pad feels grippy yet smooth, not too greasy, and the hinge has been designed so you can open it with one hand. For better and for worse, the pixel runs Chrome OS. Google's browser based operating system gets regular updates every 6 weeks, which means that your pixel will stay current for quit a while. If you live in the cloud, you simply must consider this if you're looking for a high-end laptop. However, it also means that you can't run high powered programs like iTunes, photoshop, or MS Office. Currently, Chrome doesn't do well with a ton of tabs, which is essentially what web apps are. So, multitasking can be a bit sluggish at times even with that 4 gigs of RAM. On the other hand, Google is giving everybody who buys a pixel 1 Terabyte of Cloud Storage for 3 years. And if you splurge on the Verizon LTE version that's expected in early April, you'll get practically always on connectivity and I do mean Splurge. The LTE version will run you a whopping. Get ready for this, whopping, $1499 for the WiFi only version it still extracts a hefty $1299 premium. This is a gorgeous device. Something that clearly has had a lot of thought print into it. For those prices, you can get a far more robust Windows 8 touchscreen laptop or a MAC book. Still, it's interesting to see Google take a chance on a product like this and shake things up just a little. I don't think they've nailed it quite yet but they're getting close. For CNET, I'm Seth Rosenblatt.