Today, Google has released its answer to the Ultrabook: the Chromebok Pixel, a Core i5 touchscreen laptop with a touchscreen that beats the resolution of the latest iPad.
Until now, Chromebooks have been the poor relation. That’s not to say they haven’t been very handy or very popular – the Samsung Chromebook alone accounted for 10% of Dixons’ laptop sales last year – but they haven’t competed with high-end lappies like, say, the Macbook Air. The Pixel changes all that, trumping the Air on many specs: it has the highest-resolution screen of any laptop, built-in 4G (currently in the US only) and comes with a whopping 1TB of Google Drive. But it comes at a price: the Wi-Fi version, which you can order from Google Play today, costs £1049.
The most obvious premium factor in its build is the 12.8indisplay – at 2560 x 1700, it has a pixel density of 239PPI (and 400 nits, brightness fans), higher than any other laptop. But it also has a different aspect ratio. While most lappies have a 16:9 movie-friendly screen, Google has decided that the web needs more height, so it has changed the ratio to 3:2. And it’s touchy.
That’s not the only premium aspect to the design, though – Google has also added an etched glass touchpad, a top-end, ultrabook-y aluminium build and three microphones that use something called ‘beam forming’ to eliminate background noise when you’re using it to chat.
Google has stressed that the Pixel is designed for Chrome power users, but it has a number of factors that make it noob-friendly: 32GB of solid-state memory (64GB in the 4G version) allows you to use Docs and Drive offline, and Quickoffice lets you edit MS Office docs without needing to convert them. So you can still edit Office docs from work, don’t have to persuade your boss/parent to start using Google Drive. And it comes with 1TB of Google Drive space, dsigned to tempt you into the cloud.
Battery life is rated at just over five hours, using the test that rated the Samsung Chromebook at 6 hours (we found it lasted longer). Do we want one? Very much so. Can we afford one? Errr…