Some people I’ve talked to assume that a Chromebook is unusable unless you’re connected to the Internet. Browser applications, including extensions, work fine without a connection. Files can be downloaded to the Pixel’s 32 GB or 64 GB solid state hard drive, and many cloud apps like Google Docs have an “offline mode” that enables offline use.
Being disconnected with a Pixel is more or less as annoying and counter-productive as being disconnected with any laptop.
As a heavy iPad user, I find myself constantly and instinctively tapping and swiping on the screen of any laptop I use. The difference is that with the Pixel, something actually happens.
The Pixel’s hardware materials, fit, finish and design are significantly better than most Windows laptops. The laptop itself feels solidly constructed. The aluminum body is a wonderful departure from the lower-end Chromebooks. The keyboard and touchpad are nice.
But the Chromebook is not in the same class as any Apple hardware. MacBooks are in a class of their own when it comes to the details of hardware quality. They’re more elegantly designed. The “fit” is a lot more exact. The MacBook’s unibody construction is hard to beat.
From a hardware quality standpoint, the Pixel is somewhere between the better Windows machines and the Apple machines.
The Pixel’s convenience factor is a mixed bag, actually, but probably not as inconvenient as you might think. Let me explain.
As someone who uses Gmail, Google+, YouTube, Chrome and other Google products on my Apple computers, it required zero adjustment to use the Chromebook with these services. Simply logging in gave me all my bookmarks, my browser history—everything.
There is some learning curve for a wide range of minor things, but the solutions are fairly easy to figure out or learn.
The biggest problem is that the perceived performance of the Pixel is dictated by the speed of your network connection. So if you’re on a slow WiFi network, the overall performance of the Pixel feels slow. But on a fast network (such as the free LTE connection), the Pixel feels fast.
The most convenient feature is the speed by which you can “boot” and “shut down.” Microsoft has been promising—and failing to deliver—instant on and off since the 90s. But the Pixel delivers it.
The thinking behind this myth is that power users don’t want to be limited by a browser-only machine, and novices don’t want to pay a lot for a laptop. Therefore, when you eliminate both power users and novices, nobody is left to buy the Pixel.
But the assumption that power usage is linked to willingness to spend is false. There are power-user cheapskates and also people who aren’t technical but still want a high-end machine. And it is this latter category who should want a Pixel.
It’s also worth pointing out that even power users might want a Pixel. It’s common for power users to use multiple screens or to carry more than one mobile device. Before I started using the Pixel, for example, I carried a MacBook Pro and an iPad both.
The Pixel can be used like an iPad for people who prefer the laptop form factor, but want a device with long battery life and extreme ease of use.
The Pixel is a perfect laptop for working at Starbucks, on planes and in taxis. It’s an easy-in, easy-out, fast, solid breezy computer to use with one of the most beautiful screens in the industry.
The bottom line is that most commentary on the Chromebook Pixel has been misinformed or based on faulty reasoning.
The Pixel isn’t for everyone. But it’s a thrilling and easy-to-use laptop that’s powerful enough for most of the things that most people do with a computer. And it’s worth every penny.