Some quick thoughts on the Chromebook Pixel, which I'm typing this on at the moment :)

Anyone that follows me will know that I've long been a fan of the Chromebook concept. The idea of a machine which reflects how I actually work (mostly online) is attractive. It's secure, fast enough, and I never have to worry about where any of my data lives. 

But... I'm also a hardware snob. And although the crop of Chromebooks that Google's partners have released over the years have been interesting (and lord knows, I've had a few of them), when you're used to the build quality of something like a MacBook Air, it's really hard to down trade to something that's more plasticky and cheap-feeling. And that's leaving aside features like the retina displays on the current MacBook Pros, which - once experienced - are really hard to live without.

Google clearly thinks there are enough people out there like me to make it worth building a high-end Chromebook, and that's exactly what the Chromebook Pixel is: a laptop with excellent build quality and the kind of attention to detail that previously you'd only usually see on an Apple machine. Add in a retina-class screen (and it really is gorgeous) which is actually touch-enabled and you've got something that's very interesting.

But, it has to be said, expensive: over £1000 in the UK, which is a hefty price to pay for any laptop these days. But that's about £200 cheaper than a 13in Retina MacBook Pro, which is its nearest equivalent. So if you're basically doing everything on the web anyway (or could do) and you're considering a retina MBP, it's actually pretty good value. 

Would I buy one? Actually, yes, quite possibly. I've said before that if hardware of this class was available the next time I needed to upgrade my MacBook. Of course, that would depend on what Apple had, too. But it would be a close thing.

One of the themes that +Sundar Pichai  came back to again and again when introducing the Pixel is that it's almost a statement of intent: a rallying cry to developers to create web apps which are touch-enabled, and that include retina-quality images. These are two things that really bring the web to life, and I think that Sundar is right to highlight them.

But it's also a statement about Google, too, because it says that Google can do hardware with the same attention to detail and quality that Apple does. It's  not a shot across Apple's bows, but more putting a flag in the ground that says "Come on Cupertino, we can do hardware - you think you can do services?" Isn't competition great?
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