Google Chromebook Pixel 2: Test and Review

Chromebooks are rather bizarre machines. As machines dedicated to use 100% “Cloud”, they are supposed to cover everything the Internet has to offer at a competitive prices. This philosophy puts new Chromebook Pixel in a strange situation because it holds the promise of Chrome OS, but it does so at a cost that completely obscures the best thing about this platform: the price / quality ratio.

Chrome OS has come a long way in recent years and Google continues to develop. If you move through a web browser in a Google ecosystem (Gmail, Docs, Drive …), the entry Chromebooks like the Toshiba Chromebook 2 are options to consider. But the Pixel is anything but entry-level machine. This is a well designed laptop, fast, providing the latest Intel Broadwell processors, USB Type-C and a superb high definition screen. All these high-end options are paying a high price: around $ 999 for the pixel 2. This is three times the price of the Toshiba Chromebook and almost equivalent to a MacBook Air or Dell XPS 13. And it ‘is where the rub: Chrome OS, and by extension the Chromebook Pixel, not worth such a sum.

Design

You probably say that the Chromebook Pixel seem familiar. Is right ! This is roughly the same chassis as the first model came out in 2013, until the light bar on top of the hood. It is the colors of the Google Chrome logo. On the new Pixel (Pixel “2”) it offers an additional feature: this bar provides a color indication of the battery level.

The display pixel is almost the same. It displays a diagonal of 12.85 inches with a resolution of 2560 x 1700 pixels and a display ratio of 3: 2. It is perfect for web browsing with rendering perfectly clear, sharp text with a density (resolution) of 239 pixels per inch. It really is a beautiful screen. 400 nits brightness is rather high and ensures good readability. The images are beautiful, the color fidelity even when one is not in the axis. The touch function is precise and responsive, and Google has made progress on the management of touch with its Chrome browser. Gmail has a touch mode which makes the messages and web pages components easier to handle finger.

But Chrome OS interface is primarily designed for a keyboard / mouse use, which makes it largely superfluous touch side, just useful to scroll through web pages when we want to leave the touchpad resting. This proves sensitive and responsive although Chrome OS does not take care of gestures as advanced as that found on machines running OS X or Windows.

The keys are comfortable and spacious. The Caps Lock key is replaced by a search key. The latter allows you to explore the files on Google Drive or search on the internet. And if you have activated the voice function, just open a new tab in Chrome or go to the Launcher and then say “OK Google” to make your request in person.

The new Pixel is one of the first computers to incorporate the new USB Type-C format. And unlike the new MacBook, it offers two ports on each side of the machine. The Type-C USB (USB-C) can charge mobile while connecting with devices. This means that you can load the Pixel on one side or the other, or charge its battery while connected to a compatible device. But this format is not yet widespread and Google also provided a pair of USB 3.0 “classic” ports on the left side and a slot for SD memory cards on the right. The USB Type-C is still limited at the moment and the pioneers will go through adapters. The potential is there: each USB-C port Pixel 2 can transfer data at a theoretical speed of 5 Gbit / s and provide a display Ultra HD / 4K. For now, it will use a HDMI or DisplayPort, but display manufacturers will eventually adopt the USB-C.

performances

We tested the base version of the Chromebook Pixel 2 with a Core i5 processor clocked at 2.2 GHz, 8 GB of memory (RAM) and 32GB of storage. The amount of RAM is doubled compared to the previous model and the processor is slightly faster, all for $ 300 less. But this time it is not integrated cellular connection. There is a high end version of the Pixel 2 which costs 1299 dollars equipped with a Core i7, 16GB of RAM and 64GB of storage. This is a much more robust configuration for the same price as the model 2013. The storage capacity is not huge, but you can compensate by using an SD memory card. The notebooks of the same price level offer more storage with SSD from 128 GB or hard drives of 500 GB to 1 TB.

The performance test of a Chromebook is always tricky because no reference applications running on this OS. There are tests (benchmarks) online used to assess their performance. We measured the Pixel 2 other Chromebook and he is drawn (see table below).

Futuremark Peacekeeper

Toshiba CB35-B3340 Chromebook 2

1694

Acer Chromebook 15 CB5-571-C09S

2908

Dell Chrombook 11

3342

Google Chromebook Pixel

4477

Note

The longest bars indicate better performance

SunSpider javascript

Toshiba CB35-B3340 Chromebook 2

514

Acer Chromebook 15 CB5-571-C09S

327

Dell Chrombook 11

296

Google Chromebook Pixel

200

Note

The longest bars indicate better performance

Google Octane

Toshiba CB35-B3340 Chromebook 2

7500

Acer Chromebook 15 CB5-571-C09S

13738

Dell Chrombook 11

15381

Google Chromebook Pixel

24307

Note

The longest bars indicate better performance

Hulu streaming battery test

Toshiba CB35-B3340 Chromebook 2

357

Dell Chrombook 11

385

Acer Chromebook 15 CB5-571-C09S

424

Google Chromebook Pixel

483

Note

The longest bars indicate better performance

Configuring systems

Google Chromebook Pixel

Chrome OS, 2.4GHz Intel Core i5-5200U, 8GB RAM, 32GB SSD

Acer Chromebook 15 CB5-571-C09S

Chrome OS, 1.6GHz Intel Celeron 3205U, 4GB DDR3 SDRAM, 32GB SSD

Toshiba CB35-B3340 Chromebook 2

Chrome OS, N2840 2.16GHz Intel Celeron, 4GB DDR3 SDRAM, 16GB SSD

Dell Chromebook 11

Chrome OS, 1.7GHz Intel Core i3 4005U, 4GB DDR3 SDRAM, 16GB SSD

Configuration of Pixel 2 had no trouble cashing what we asked. However, the required level is not huge. Little about Internet solicit enormously hardware. Through the power of its processor, amount of RAM and simplicity of Chrome OS, the Pixel 2 made short streaming videos and other online photo editing tasks. The entertainment offer is limited to what is found on the Web and the Chrome Web Store. But there including Bastion beautiful game runs perfectly with great fluidity.

Google announces noon autonomy against five hours to the first generation Pixel. For our tests, we set brightness and volume 50% read and streaming videos. Pixel 2 assured an average battery life of seven hours. For a standard custom of listening to music streaming (Spotify, Deezer, etc.), to read some videos on YouTube, write, read and navigate … the last machine fits easily Google the day and even more .

We did never worried about lack energy because with USB-C, it can charge mobile from any device that accepts a USB cable. We usually one or two external battery pack with us. Being able to use it to recharge a laptop is surprisingly liberating. It is also possible to use another laptop or desktop computer to charge the Pixel 2 … The practice is, of course, do not forget the charger Chromebook from Google. An express charging function to give two hours of life Pixel 2 with only 15 minutes of charging. Fully charging the battery requires an hour and half.

System features

The Chromebook Pixel 2 is a case of trade-related study. This new model offers better battery life and performance than the previous version. Chrome OS is now able to edit Microsoft Office documents without having to convert them first. There are also some Android applications compatible Chrome OS. Reconciliation is still timid, but it gives an interesting overview of the direction Google wants to take. Microsoft has adopted the same approach with Windows 10 works on computers and mobile devices with common applications.

Adobe and Google have an agreement that aims to provide an online version of Photoshop for Chrome. The high definition display and muscular hardware configuration is ideal for photo editing. Certainly, there are already applications of this type in the Chrome Web Store, but none comes close to that of Adobe.

But there is a major downside. The premise of the Chromebook, namely a low-cost and always connected machine, seems to contradict the high-end configuration and expensive Pixel concept. And the progress made by Chrome OS evaporate as soon as it is no Internet connection. It is always possible to work with Google tools to create, edit documents or view media stored on the machine, but we expect a platform that works completely offline. Chromebooks are not yet able to replace a truly independent computer with an Internet connection such as Windows, OS X, Linux …

The Chromebook Pixel 2 impressive … at least in a perfect world or a high-speed Internet access is available everywhere and constant. A world where the cloud and deported applications would become the norm. But we’re not there yet. The Chromebook Pixel 2 is a beautiful exercise in style but Google is positioned opposite the Chromebook concept: a financially affordable machine for web-based use.

Article Nate Ralph for eLaptopComputer.com