When Google first released the Chromebook, it was heralded as the next evolution of personal computing. Many hoped that it would signify a revolution, that it would lead into a new era in the world of technology.
Turns out that didn’t happen. Almost two years later and the Chromebook is more or less forgotten.
It was a very unique idea and one that no one had attempted before – a laptop well and truly relied on the cloud for the vast majority of its computing needs. A secure, browser-based operating system. A fast, efficient workplace device. On paper, it seemed like a rather brilliant idea.
In practice however, the Chromebook didn’t really work out. Primarily, I feel that this was simply because the world wasn’t quite ready for the technology yet. Until we have a readily available network connection at every corner, until we can lock down secure, reliable Internet worldwide; devices based wholly on the cloud simply aren’t feasible or viable. The Chromebook… while it was a unique, efficient, and well-made device, simply wasn’t meant to be. An over-reliance on the cloud essentially killed it.
Two years down the road, and Google’s not yet given up on the brand yet. They’ve released an updated model, designed to compete with the high-rent computing sector against the likes of the Windows 8 Ultrabooks and the Macbook Air. It’s called the Chromebook Pixel, and it’s been said to represent the next tier in Google’s Chromebook portfolio. It is all a part of what IT Pro Portal terms a deliberate, intentional strategy. The original Chromebooks were just the first step. They were Google’s idea of testing the water.
The Pixel is the next step. Again, it looks very good on paper. It’s got a full terabyte of storage on Google Drive for free, a beautiful 2560×1700 display which puts most laptop screens to shame, 4 GB of RAM, Intel Core i7 processors, integrated HD 4000 graphics from Intel, and (on the $1449 model) an LTE connection. It’s also got touch capability, incredible speakers, and a top-notch keyboard.
All things considered, it’s a rather sexy beast. Unfortunately, it still suffers from the exact same failing as the Chromebooks before it: its operating system is a web browser. What this ultimately means is that while it’s a compelling system, it loses a great deal of its draw when a network connection isn’t available. Worse yet, while the previous Chromebook models boasted rather impressive on-board batteries, the battery life of the Chromebook pixel is reportedly rather sub-par. That coupled with the severely limited on-board storage (also a sticking point for older Chromebook models) will be a considerable sticking point for many.
Of course, there’s also the fact that, given the Chromebook’s price point, it’s not a very high end system. It’s certainly got a few impressive features over Google’s previous models, but when compared to several other notebooks at the same price, it falls far short of the mark. Most people aren’t going to want to drop over a grand on a system that only runs web apps, no matter how pretty it might look .
So, as to the question of whether or not the Chromebook Pixel is worth buying? For most users, the answer to that question is a resounding “no.” However, if you’re looking for an ultra-portable, lightweight, cloud-based laptop and constant connectivity isn’t of much concern to you, the Pixel’s an excellent choice.
Ultimately, I’d say we should just wait and see what Google does with this nifty little device. Who knows? We might be surprised.