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Why I just bought a Chromebook Pixel

I have been living in Googleland -- on my Android phone and tablet and my Chromebook -- for a few months now. It's a happy place up here in the cloud. I haven't been down below to dark dens of the Microsoft Empire since.

The Chromebook -- I have the $249 Samsung model -- works quite well now. I had a problem for sometime with pages refreshing too often and at inconvenient moments because of limited memory. But helpful fellow users gave me a new setting that makes the machine do a better job of swapping memory and now I'm finding that it's quite stable. It stores docs and email locally and so I've been able to work on the plane and I've found I can do everything I needed to do using Microsoft Word et al. The keyboard's nice. The screen's a bit lite. But the battery power is great. 

I was wishing for a beefier Chromebook. Having proven itself at the low end of the market, I've been saying that I wished Google would come up with one at the high end. Now it has: The Chromebook Pixel. I just bought one, sight unseen. It has more memory, a faster processor, a touchscreen (which I'm looking forward to), and LTE built into the most expensive machine. At $1,500 it's comparable to a Macbook, though I don't need to buy any software for it. 

But this is a reverse of Mac appeal. The reason I switched to Android from iPhones is not the hardware -- though I like my Nexus 4 -- but the services. I use Gmail, Google Calendar, Google Maps, Google Reader, Google+, Google Drive, Google Now.... Like an alien spaceship hovering overhead, that's what sucked me up into the cloud. Once I was there on my phone and tablet (a Nexus 7), it was easy to make the switch to a Chromebook. I already lived inside Chrome on my Mac. All I needed to do was see whether I could give up Microsoft apps. I could. Deal done. 

Because I ordered the LTE pixel, I'll have to wait six weeks to get it. I'm not sure whether that's worth the extra $150 and wait, but I figure it's better to have the option to use cell connectivity. 

http://www.google.com/intl/en/chrome/devices/chromebook-pixel/#pixel-specs
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131 comments
 
For a lot of people, I think the more compelling reason is the included 1TB of storage for three years - so for that group, this is effectively a laptop thrown in. 

Having said that, wasn't the model they were going for low powered client? 
 
I am so jealous right now. :) I want one of these really badly - they look amazing. I'd love to hear from some web designers, graphic designers, etc - folks who do a lot of work with legacy programming like Photoshop and so forth. Would this work well as a secondary machine?
 
I would get this at $799 w/o a touchscreen. At this price point? I can get two refurbed Lenovo x220's.
 
How did you justify the price for this +Chromebook ? It really has me interested, but the price tag is a bit daunting. I would like to try it out a bit first.
 
You will have to get a review out, ASAP. I'm very interested to hear about the performance.
 
So it is real? Wow I left the house for a few hours and the rumor is real. Sign me up!
 
But... They are ugly! Looks like a Russian space instrument in titanium.
 
Weird that there is no USB 3.0 port.
 
Microsoft as the boat anchor.. please keep sending the rest of us more postcards.
 
+Marvin funtime I'm expecting some fun conversation between Leo & Jeff on next week's TWiG.
 
I'm interested in 1) seeing your review after you've used it for a while. 2) getting those settings you used to make your Samsung Chromebook swap better.
 
I prefer my hard drive local...  BBC interview was awesome!
 
Looks like very nice hardware, just can't justify that price for something running ChromeOS.
 
It's certainly a nice looking machine and would be fine for most routine tasks.  I'm deep into Google services as well, although I still don't think I could get by with just this machine.  Once some devs cook up a way to dual boot into a full Linux distro, it'd be a fantastic piece though.  Chrome OS most of the time.  Full Linux when I need it.  Great hardware.
 
Don't get me wrong, I think it looks like a GREAT product, but it's really hard for me to justify a price that's 3 times pretty much any other Chrome device currently out there.

I am, however, very interested in what you think of it, so be sure to let us know your thoughts when it finally arrives.
 
Cool! thanks for the write-up. Google is doing great, great things!
 
I use Ubuntu Linux and also live in Google and Chrome Browser. OS was free, laptop was an old netbook. But it's not touch screen. (I tried to install Chrome OS on the machine but couldn't get it to take -- am very impressed with Linux coming from Windows 7).
 
+Jeff Jarvis  Have you had a chance to write your review of living with the +Chromebook  yet?  Been waiting to hear a detailed review on TWIG.
 
is it simple enough for my mother in law who suffers from a mild case of technophobia. she learnt 'puters on PC but we switched her to Mac which nearly caused her to give up the ghost completely. PC is such a jungle, it hurts to see her struggle. will chrome world be easier for her and her types?
 
Way to go +Jeff Jarvis. No doubt Leo will find something to fault it on on your next twig. Like you I've been drawn in to Google land with my Nexus 7 and in the last few weeks I switched from iPhone to Nexus 4. The pixel is way too expensive for me though to justify. Looking forward to the unbiased Jeff review. 
 
If only they'd include Eclipse so I could use it as a development platform. UPDATE: By using https://github.com/dnschneid/crouton and setting this up after putting the Chromebook in developer mode it lets the user run straight linux on the device. So I'm sold. This baby is my next development machine.
 
+Mark-John Clifford The main trick is to (1) switch the beta channel for the o.s. and then (2) hit ctrl-alt-T and "enable swap."
 
+John Oliver Coffey If Granny can use a browser, she can use this. Only thing you'll have to teach her is Drive/Docs to store documents. 
 
+Jeff Jarvis : Looking forward to seeing a review on TWiG when it arrives, and if we'll see a return of grumpy Leo. 
 
+Tom Newman Not sure how much more I have to say but I'll think about doing that. Will definitely discuss on TWiG. m
 
This is what happens when you get sucked into an ecosystem. Jeff could have bought a Mac Air or a PC ultrabook for less money; loaded Chrome and had the exact same functionality. Just dumb. 
 
Wow. How to take Android and make it into another The-product-is-you walled garden ghetto for people with too much money in their pockets! Got to hand it to Google, they sure know how to make free expensive!

I guess I should thank you for subsidizing my usage, Jeff...;)
 
And props to Samsung too, of course!
 
Outside of higher-end video and audio editing software, Google services are the most common thing I use on my phone (Android), Tablet (iPad) and desktop/ laptop (Mac).

It's time for me to buy a new laptop. For the first time in a couple of decades, I'm on the fence about what to purchase.
 
+Jeff Jarvis, Why I just haven't bought a Chromebook Pixel: Google doesn't sell it to me in Germany. So, what is all this fuzz about?
 
Wow. I use all of those Google services too on PC, Nexus 4, and Nexus 7. But I can't see dropping $1,500 on a chromebook (which is still a limited machine) when I can get a very nice real notebook for that price. For that amount of money I expect a content creation machine where I can run Eclipse or Visual Studio and solid video editing, etc. I just can't see that price point being compelling for a box with such a limited OS. I'll be interested to hear +Jeff Jarvis experiences with it on TWiG...
 
I was just about to finally concede to myself and grab a $400 Samsung 3G Chromebook.  I was lucky to get an original Cr48 and still use it to this day for various things.

I love the lightweight and almost 'beater' qualities that the Chromebooks have.

But this... I wannit.  I wannit so bad, but $1500 is a lot harder to justify than $400.
 
At least you can get a Chromebook, let alone choice.  Just a bit North of you has nothing but empty promises of such things +Jeff Jarvis.

I am glad you like it though.  It makes me interested in trying one, though a low cost experiment like you conducted.
 
$1500 for a laptop with half size cursor keys and no page up/page down? I'd expect this sort of thing from Apple and Microsoft but you'd think Google of all companies would be able to do a decent keyboard layout.
 
Jeff it has max 5 hour battery life no USB 3 a 3:2 screen ratio I cannot understand for that money you could buy a proper laptop and you could still do all you want and more if you wanted too.
 
+Jeff Jarvis I've got to give to you, Jeff. You put your money where your mouth is. Your commitment to Chrome OS is admirable! However, I think Google should be committed to delivering a full featured desktop OS as Chrome is not a feasible proposition for multipurpose computing. Even you have to agree that the price point vs system capability is abysmal.  
 
+Tim Dean I don't think any chromebooks have ever had the full keyboard layout.
 
+Tim Dean would a keyboard shortcut to page up and down suffice?  Do we need dedicated, antiquated, keys for things that can be done with combinations?  Like removing the caps lock key, somethings just have to go to pasture. Meanwhile, I do agree that I never did like the mini directional keys.
 
+Mario Garcia, you'd be surprised how much you can get done in ChromeOS.  The full featured experience is already too crowded.  This is a market that has been untapped and completely underutilized for quite some time now.
 
Someone on Twitter questioned why I would get this instead of a Macbook Air running Chrome. That is the right question and it was one I was asking before I jumped on this order (Google has trained me to buy before its products sell out!). I will give the choice serious consideration as to pros and cons. But there is that touchscreen......
 
+Jeff Jarvis The LTE version also doubles the internal storage from 32 to 64GB.  So $150 gets you some more stuff, even if the radio doesn't make itself useful.  
 
i bet that i5cpu makes gmail incredibly fast. great hardware for running a web browser  !
 
Yeah, we had a discussion about 'high end chrome-books' on the Chrome user forum. I can't see this selling well. Product choice is great, and I love my Samsung ARM. But there's no way these will sell well, I think. Too expensive by half.
 
+Joe Ekiert I have Chrome OS loaded on a netbook. Even my three year old will not go near it. She'd rather play on mom's Macbook Pro. My 5 and 9 year old boys would laugh if I pushed that in front of them. Listen, I despise MS (lousy programmers) and Apple (Nazis) as much as the next man. I think it's time for Google to deliver a full blown operating system for multipurpose computing. Not this mockery!
 
I can't wait to order mine. I will have to wait a month or two for my finances to allow the purchase though. Since I have to wait I'll probably go for the 3G version too.
 
+Mario Garcia, the point is that the market for Laptops with full featured OS's is way too crowded.  Google is taking the right approach, especially since they can integrate it seamlessly with their already existing suite of online web apps.

These computers would cost much more and we probably wouldn't even be seeing them if we had to wait for the complete R&D for what you're asking for.
 
It's ridiculous for people to call this a macbook air running Chrome. Screen resolution and touch screen alone put it way above the air without that large of a price delta.
 
+Jeff Jarvis I'm pretty open-minded but the appeal is lost. As someone who travels why does this near cloud-dependent hardware not create more problems that it solves 1) Especially at that price point 2) with no track record of decent customer support by Google 3) 1st gen production/technology.

The price point itself tells me they don't really want people to buy these. It's like #googleglass they are having customers pay for their alpha product development.

Not even Apple does that to its customers.
 
+Demian Dellinger, Apple and Google are almost polar opposites when it comes to release strategies.

And I'd argue that Google Customer support has worked its way up to 'decent.'  They have a ways to go, but it isn't the utter nightmare it used to be.
 
"Devices on Google Play is currently only available to customers in Australia, Canada, United Kingdom, Germany, Spain, France, Japan, and the United States." RAAAAAAR :(
 
+Jeff Jarvis Would you consider Dualbooting Chrubuntu or the Crouton project cheating when it comes to the ChromeOS experience? I'd say yes, but it is so nice for dev purposes to have git and the like to play with, plus Steam. 
 
+Jeff Jarvis the 4g LTE is worth it .. good choice.. i've used both at the office .. i prefer the LTE version
 
What can a chrome book do that a macbook cant and vice versa
 
+Hasan Ahmad .. one of my favorite features of my chromebook is how i can be up and running in a few minutes even if i have to pick up a new one.

for example .. (i've been using a chromebook at the office for a few weeks exclusively now)..  they asked me to turn in my pixel and come get a new one  .. got my new pixel, turned it on, signed in .. waited for chrome to sync all my settings, was back at work getting stuff done in about 5 minutes.
 
Now this looks like something that could beam me up to the Cloud. I love it! SIM connectivity is not necessary for me, though, as I will just tether from my phone.

Colour me impressed. :)
 
+Jeff Jarvis switching to beta is not required on this device. I think it ships with the next version of chromeos which should allow enabling of swap I think.
 
Sounds good. Keep us posted on how you get on with it when it arrives! 
 
but $1300. isn't G+ always complaining about the 'Apple tax' if they still buy this, this will be their biggest hypocrisy
 
$1300 and i5 for a device entirely based on cloud computing. #fail  
 
Can you and how do you edit movies on this machine? Are there any useable apps ( iMovie or Final Cut Pro ) for Chrome?
 
Why is it that no Chromebooks are available in Canada? 
 
32gb storage
3:2 aspect ratio
Browser as an OS
$1300
The Verge calls the touchscreen garbage.
3x thicker than macbook air.

+Jeff Jarvis I am disappoint
 
+Hasan Ahmad I have less issue with regular users like +Royans Tharakan having no clue about video editing's serious requirement. I do wonder why +Jeff Jarvis didn't point out the obvious? It seems easy to mention, in brief passing, some major weakness of the machine? Now, not that everyone wants to edit video but it is good to know both what a machine is good for and what it is bad for. Or else we will soon sound like a fan boy when talking about our fav tools.
 
Wanted to get my wife a chrome book but none of the apps that you use to transfer/download ebooks from the library are available. Its bad enough we have to use wine on Linux for them to work.
 
I would indeed get a Macbook Pro 13" Retina instead of this. Running "Open Garden" you can tether (bluetooth) with your phone without the cost in Battery life. You can still live in Chrome if you wish... however, you will have a capable computer to also do image/video editing...
 
I appreciate your enthusiasm, but am now confused, your saying the Samsung $250 chromebook  is punchy?  What could drag it down? why would you need a powerful processor to browse the web?  Is there something more to chrome that I am missing?
 
I would've bought this for $700 but its MacBook Pro priced. I think my 550 will have to do. Interested in your thoughts though. 
 
+Jeff Jarvis - I just ordered one too (YOLO!).  I was having a bit of remorse until I went home and booted my window's desktop.  Adobe, Steam, and Java all demanded updates and I had used the machine the previous day!  I have two questions for you:

1) The announcement appeared to emphasize the photography use case.  Do you think that google will soon offer cloud-based photo editing leveraging their Nik acquisition?  I could see something like google docs but for photos complementing their google+ offerings nicely.  Today, the photo editing capabilities of chrome OS are pretty lacking and there's no RAW support.

2) Will you please educated +Leo Laporte on the merits of Chrome OS?  This chromebook handles 95% of my use cases for computing and does it BETTER than any traditional PC (no PC management, faster boot, no OS bloat, no security risk, no file backups, better multiple user experience, etc).  This device becomes my primary computer and makes my other machines secondary.  
 
Jeff, this looks like a great machine for you. For me, not so much (I'm a Google avoider when possible).

I do like the screen's aspect ratio...for what I do I need height more than width.
 
+Hasan Ahmad not even close but I do have a birthday coming up and decided to splurge.  This Chromebook may be worth more than my car...
 
Chromebook #pixel is the kind of product that Google releases to see how far their rabid fanboys will go to worship them. Seriously. Apart from reviewers and tech journalists..
 
+Scott Stephens you could pay 1300 for a macbook open chrome while transferring photos from your android or iphone to adobe lightroom. Now if you pay 1300 for a chromebook you can do just one of those
 
Feels like the beginning of something. Google has said Android is touch and Chrome is keyboard and mouse. With a touchscreen, if they can get Android and Chrome running on the same kernel and put in a hot switch to change OSes quickly, this is a game changer. Or even better port Dalvik over and let Android apps run in Chrome.
 
They will sell more than they can make. Guaranteed.
 
+James Taurasi Pg up/down being their own keys matters to me because the shortcut to switch between tabs is Ctrl+Pg Up/Down. It's annoying enough when you have to press two keys to scroll a page, but having to press three keys for an extremely common operation is really bad.

I don't really even use them for scrolling, anyway. Space/Shift+space is much more convenient for scrolling.
 
As someone who spent the entire afternoon with it writing a pair of hands-ons for PCMag.com and ReadWrite, you're nuts. I use the Chromebook on a daily basis, and the Chromebox is even better. But I simply can't justify $1,299 for a touch display, even as beautiful as it is. Why should I use touch? What apps show off the display? As you correctly point out, the $299 Chromebook is a bit laggy, but for $299, I can live with a few flaws.

Now if Google had a few developers on stage to talk about their Chrome OS app plans, I might change my tune. But at this point, I'd counsel consumers to pass on the Pixel, but certainly check out the Chromebook lineup.
 
Why get this when I can get a Windows 8 Ultrabook, 1TB Hard drive and just connect it to the Internet at my home where Google won't have their eyes on my content? 
 
as always, no G products on european playstores, ok, no money spent on that, worth for you google .....
 
The specs say "Up to 5 hours of active use (59 Wh battery)." That's not quite MBA territory. With LTE, you also get 32GB more SSD storage.
 
What was that setting you changed? I have the 249 one and have that issue.
 
All I use is Google Apps in my business. I've also made the switch from iphone back to Android. I'm really considering switching from macbook air to Chromebook Pixel. 
 
I am about 90 percent Google I cant wait to hear what Jeff has to say about the pixel I value his opinions and reviews
 
And I thought only Apple fans were sheep
js s
 
too much
 
I think Google is using the new open source bios as firmware: ie Linuxbios.

Hopefully these Chromebooks take off and we can get rid of that hacked up proprietary uefi that Windows is using to pretend that their os is booting faster, that has already resulted in a bunch of "bricked" Samsung Laptops.
 
I was tempted but I use Lightroom for my photography. I also wonder about support in case of a problem. With Apple that's easy. But I mostly use Google cloud services now too. 
 
My favorite feature is how well Google Plus displays on my Galaxy S3, Galaxy Tab and soon, my Pixel. :) 
 
The moment I saw this I had a feeling you'd be first in line.  I to try to live as much as possible in the Google Cloud world, with the exception of some tasks that require more than what the cloud can currently deliver, I still find having the majority of my info out there and available with whatever device I'm using - it is priceless to not have to boot up a notebook to check out some data in a spreadsheet sitting in the cloud from my Note II.

I'm guessing you'll be very happy with this investment, looking forward to your reviews.
 
Touch screen I could do without.  I understand the appeal, I just hate any kind of smudge on my screen.  I look forward to hearing your thoughts when you get it.
 
+Jeff Jarvis If +Google decide to launch the LTE version in the UK, I'm getting one to complement my System 76 laptop.
 
You just became a Google I sheep. How Does it feel?
 
+Jeff Jarvis are you really putting all your docs into the cloud? You know, that it's not encrypted, I suppose. I really wonder why this problem seems to be a non-issue for most people. SkyDrive has the same problem anyway.
Edit: Maybe Boxcryptor is a solution ...
 
So how much was the author paid for this article?  Hmm? ;-)
 
+Kai Zoellner yes. Truth is most docs are boring. I'm as careful with them as I am with an email that could be forwarded. I probably would not put tax docs there. 
 
I am really excited to hear about your experience. I love my Chromebook, but a little more power and a better screen would be fantastic.
 
I still use my Cr-48 and admit that it has been useful on occasions and saved my bacon on others, and I'm about to buy a Nexus 10 since my Android phone is too darn slow/old and I mostly use it in the house anyway (the hope is that by only using it as a phone I can ride out my contract.)

But I can't see the point at all in the Pixel, as much as I have liked my Cr-48 and as much as I see failings I wouldn't pay so much to just have a blinged up version of the same device. I would rather have cursor-driven Android and native apps, especially productivity apps. I use Docs for my work and I am honestly sick and tired of it, I have watched Docs make Chrome chug on a top-model Ivy Bridge with 8GB of RAM when faced with a spreadsheet that was long but easily handled by a 1993 Mac using an old version of Excel. Javascript just isn't ideal for this sort of thing.

If the CNET interview above is true and someone is working on a Chrome OS tablet, I feel like the project has reached peak redundancy. I'm pro-Google, but Chrome OS is reaching beyond it's best strengths ("disposable computing" and a price point most people can afford) and into territory where I'd honestly prefer to have Android isntead.
 
I don't get everyone's opinion that if the chrome book doesn't have WiFi it's just a paper weight. What do most people do with laptops these days? Stream video, music, email, web, or at best type a paper which you can still do offline. Seems as if any device doesn't have connectivity these days it's just a paper weight.... 
 
Hmmm, there are a few things to note.

1. Sundhar Pinchai himself has said that they "are not trying to be too commercial with this"

2. If you use cloud storage, the 1 TB for 3 years that comes with it is worth $1800

3. If I had a lot of money and had to gift a laptop to someone who's not tech savvy, this is what I'd get.

4. Free upgrades for life and almost nil software charges such as antivirus programs. That saves a good deal of money.

5. I read somewhere that google only made 200000 of these. That in addition to the price, specs and design makes me think this is a showcase more than anything else. Notice that this is google hardware. It's their design.

6. Google is trying to drive develoer interest, and this is giving chromebooks plenty of press. Also, this laptop sounds like the ideal reference design to develop on. Remember that the Native Client tech that chrome OS uses can do a LOT more than just browse the web.

7. This also works to shake off the cheap image. Google's target market is apparently the "power cloud user". And this works for people who spend a lot of their time online and can't be bothered to spend money/time to maintain an offline OS.

I don't think the pixel is going to sell in any great numbers, but will have a huge positive effect on the chromebook ecosystem - which, from what I can tell, is what google is really aiming for.


PS. You can install ubuntu on it - and put in a microSD card for another 64GB of storage. Also, chrome OS reads external hard drives of all formats such as exFAT, NTFS, HFS, ext4 just fine - so a 2TB portable external hard drive is not out of the question
 
Really tempted by this myself. Only issue is that I NEED more local storage. I would definitely use the 1TB cloud storage but would want to keep at least a couple hundred GB of music/pictures/documents synced locally. This means I need to upgrade the mSATA drive. That's another couple hundred for a 256GB mSATA drive and I'm not sure how easy it is to upgrade. Will wait for someone else to do this first.

Edit: +Jeff Jarvis. Are you planning to upgrade the SSD or are you going to make do with what comes with the Pixel?
 
somewhere between $250 and $1500, there must be a happy $450 medium with enough RAM to make the difference...
 
$1300 is a huge bargain for Pixel! I bought one for everyone in the office ( all two of us, NJ location getting soon ) and now within two days we run our entire company from Pixel. Almost 90% of our business is run from Google+, from hangouts for internal and non local meetings to sharing on Drive with our 30+ licensing partners.
Even our books and comics are written in Google Docs.

Just based on the build quality alone, these should be $2000+ and this is from someone who produces hundreds of new products per year. My opinion is not just based on materials used or tech under the hood, but the design and choices made with this machine...it's beautiful, and the best computer I have ever used, ever.

And no, I cannot do the same thing on another machine with Chrome, because the other machines make me nuts. Maybe it is because I am an artist / designer ( or feel like one ), but bad keyboards and track pads make me nuts...and why feel nuts when you are working? And yes, your pricey computer has a really bad track pad. Many may not notice this...two of my family members can't tell the difference, and that's OK...
I can tell.

Our Macbook track pad was ok.
The Pixel track pad is heaven, the keyboard is a dream come true for a keyboard nut, and everything else from screen to form factor is a real joy. For me, all other machines have been set aside. 
 
I'm not sure who you use for your mobile service, but I had an experience today that is making me rethink going with the LTE pixel. Plus, I have an LTE wifi hotspot. I am really considering cancelling my LTE version and going with the wifi only version. 
 
+Adam McGrath  The LTE version also has 2X the storage, and that may also mean better I/O performance (I seem to recall)
 
I want one too, when are they coming to Germany?
 
You can probably get one on ebay, +Nicolas Meseth - I was considering mine when I got frustrated at chromeos' lack of middleclick (three-finger tap) and iptables and page up page down and iptables and found that lots of people were selling google Pixels from Google I/O . (I've made peace with mine btw- it's running debian with xfce and doing iptables and middleclick and with the right platform a usb keyboard with all the important keys included works well with the integrated high res touchpad)
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