Google has just announced the Chromebook Pixel, and I have to say I’m extremely disappointed. And probably not for the reasons you are. Yes, it’s $1300. It only has a 32GB SSD, it only runs web apps, and its battery life is not extraordinary. There is nothing in there that costs $1300, nothing. But that’s fine, people might buy it for the looks and the size. Maybe even for the great screen. It might have its small niche in the market, and I won’t bash it for that. No, it disappoints me for a far bigger reason.
Let’s look at Chromebooks in general. What is their purpose exactly? What is the purpose of Chrome OS? Is it a Windows/OSX competitor? Is it a laptop-ified version of Android? Why would someone buy a Chromebook? It’s an important question to answer to see why the Pixel is such a failure for what it is.
Chrome OS is very limited in what it can do. It’s not an OS so much as it is a glorified browser encased in a UI that does little else. It runs web apps, which are just web pages in their own windows (or tabs, depending on how you open them). It isn’t a powerful platform by any means; in fact, it’s extremely limited. But of course, that’s not a bad thing because Chrome OS serves one purpose: To do the basics and do them well.
Yes, Chromebooks are made for those who don’t need powerful laptops. For those who don’t play Crysis, and don’t demand a 1TB internal hard drive. Chromebooks, in essence, are the everyday laptops. And they were priced accordingly. The Samsung Chromebook is $249 and does what it does well. It runs fast, its battery lasts a good amount, and it doesn’t break the bank. And that’s a Chromebook’s purpose: an every day machine for an every day person.
Does your mom need that dedicated GPU? Does she care that your 17″ gaming laptop’s screen is 1080p? Will she ever use any programs besides Chrome and Microsoft Office? Most of the time, no. And a Chromebook suits those people perfectly: A cheap computer that does its moneys worth and does it well, unlike cheap netbooks running Windows.
That’s where the Chromebook Pixel comes in and destroys that image of a budget friendly series of devices that will serve you well: it costs $1300. What happens when you take very limited software that used to run on equally limited but very usable hardware, and throw it on top of much higher end hardware? You get little more than what you got from that $250 Chromebook, because it serves no extra purpose. What will that i5 do, run Chrome faster? Why do you need to browse Facebook in 2560×1700? What’s the use of that 400 nit display outdoors if the OS is based in the cloud and needs an internet connection? It’s like buying a diamond encrusted Vertu smartphone only to get the Froyo treatment.
Am I saying that there is no point to the Pixel? Of course not, I’m sure it’ll make someone happy. But it breaks the mold of the Chromebook, in a bad way. It breaks its image, it serves no purpose in a line of devices that serve a very specific purpose. If you want such specs with an OS that can utilize it, buy yourself a MacBook Pro Retina or any PC equivalent. This Chromebook might not be what you’re looking for.
However, those three years of free 1TB Google Drive storage would cost you $1800 but come free with the $1300 Pixel, so that might be a good investment! Get $500 off Google Drive and a free Chromebook Pixel, what a deal!
Share your thoughts on the issue in the comments, we’d love to hear what you think. Do you agree that the Pixel serves no real purpose in the Chromebook lineup? Are you going to get one?