Pixel Envy

Written by Nick Heer.

Another Optimistic David Pierce Review

This time, regarding the Chromebook Pixel:

It’s a bit heavier than the MacBook Air — 3.35 pounds vs. about three flat — but everyone who asked to use the Pixel said something about it being noticeably heavier.

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The smooth, glassy trackpad is fast and responsive — though it’s missing some of the gestures I love about OS X, and is really limited to pointing and scrolling plus the rare pinch-to-zoom gesture.

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The touchscreen works relatively well when I try to use it, though it does tend to scroll in fits and starts rather than glide smoothly underneath my finger. But thanks to some combination of the excellent trackpad and my subconscious reticence to sully the gorgeous display with fingerprints, I just used the Pixel like it had no touchscreen.

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It boots in less than ten seconds, and resumes almost instantly — it’s a very fast, stable, powerful machine that never gets too loud or too hot. But it’s not noticeably better than any other Chromebook, and it doesn’t fix the problems seemingly endemic to these devices, like their odd inability to smoothly play local videos.

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But even stretching the battery as much as I could while still using the device normally, I never got more than five hours of battery life. That’s just not very good, and doesn’t make sense given how many sacrifices Google already asks you to make.

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It’s not a desktop OS, though, and it’s missing some of the things I rely on on my PC. Some are crucial: way too many of the apps I named above don’t work offline, and even those that do are stripped-down, slow, and often clumsy.

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And yet, when it came time to write this review, edit and upload pictures, and do real research, I opened up my MacBook Air again. I needed Photoshop. I needed Evernote to work offline, because I needed a tool that worked better than Google Docs’s Scratchpad tool (which is handy, just not particularly powerful).

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Everyone should want a Chromebook Pixel — I certainly do. But almost no one should buy one.

Pierce awards this product which “almost no one should buy” an overall score of 7.5 out of 10 possible points. In what universe is this barely-useful, buggy, and expensive product awarded even a mediocre score?