Is Chromebook Pixel worth spending $1,299? [first-impressions review]
First in a series. Chromebook Pixel is an enigma. A misfit. Some critics call it a miscalculation -- that Google created a pretty kit that offers too little value for the high price. For sure, $1,299, or $1,449 for the model with LTE, is more than most people pay. According to NPD, the average selling price of laptops at US retail was $640 in January.
But some people do pay more. Apple laptops start at $999 and, according to NPD, the ASP was $1,419 last month. Unquestionably, I see Chromebook Pixel as priced against Macs, and after using Google's laptop see it targeted at the same professionals who value Apple notebooks. The question any potential buyer should ask: Is Pixel worth spending as much as Google asks? I will answer that question in several parts -- this initial review is first.
500px foreshadows Chromebook Pixel's future
Today, 500px launched a new Chrome web app that, while available for browsers running on OS X or Windows, brings something extra to Chrome OS: Touch natively-supported and optimized for Chromebook Pixel. Take a look, because this little ditty is the computer's future and hints at what Google means by the "For what's next" marketing tagline.
Chromebook Pixel is Google's pricey -- $1,299 or $1,449 laptop running Chrome OS. Pixel's naysayers -- and, whoa, there are many -- gripe about a high-priced browser PC that is useless offline and for which there are no real programs. But that's not so. Developers can, as Google has done, create "packaged" web apps that can run when disconnected from the Internet. The 500px Chrome app is one of them. Then there is the functionality fine-tuned to Chrome Pixel's magnificent 2560 x 1700 resolution touchscreen. If you can understand 500px, you might grok Google's plans for making the Chrome OS flagship truly competitive with Mac notebooks.
Whoa, you really don't want Google Chromebook Pixel
On February 21, Google started selling its first computer, Chromebook Pixel, which I called a "status symbol" over the weekend. In typical fashion I asked "Will you buy Google Chromebook Pixel?" There surely is a market for the laptop somewhere, but not among the respondents to our poll.
Seventy-seven percent of you answer "No". That's among the highest percentage ever to one of my polls. If there's Chromebook Pixel enthusiasm, it surely isn't from BetaNews readers. Just 8 percent of respondents will buy the Chrome OS laptop "as soon as available in my country". Only 16.5 percent plan to buy Chromebook Pixel ever. So has Google got a flop? No way, Jose.
Chromebook Pixel is a status symbol
Google's first computer isn't about sales but status. Critics who lambast Chromebook Pixel as an over-priced web browser wrapped in pretty hardware miss the point. Badly. The laptop will sell, but not in mass-volume because it's not meant to. Is Lamborghini about sales or style? I ask not seeing much commentary about how the Italian sports car is a failure because Ford sells millions more Explorers.
Chromebook Pixel is the luxury car of computers running Chrome OS and perpetually connected to the cloud. Google's beauty is a status symbol for people willing to plunk down $1,299 or $1,449 and makes, along with newer Nexus devices, a bold brand statement: Google is a premium brand and the company a real innovator. For the people who love the brand and want to identify with it, like all those fanboys adoring Apple with their cash, Chromebook Pixel is an easy sell.
Will you buy Google Chromebook Pixel?
That sound you just heard was Google slapping Apple across the face. Today the search and information giant unveiled and starting selling high-end portable Chromebook Pixel. By just about every measure, Google guns for Apple in its dominant market -- premium PCs, or those selling for $1,000 or more. When rumors circulated about the computer, I opined: "Chromebook Pixel looks like MacBook Pro to me". The impression is stronger now that the real deal is here -- from form factor to price, either $1,299 or $1,449.
Should Apple sweat about Chromebook Pixel? I would. Following a years-long retail trend, Apple share of PCs selling for $1,000 or more was over 90 percent in 2012, according to NPD. Stephen Baker, NPD's vice president of industry analysis, asks if Google is "more trying to compete with Apple and high-end windows machines for premium consumer and maybe corporate?" I answer: Yes. What I want to know: Will you buy Chromebook Pixel? But more importantly: Would you buy Chromebook Pixel instead of 13-inch MacBook Pro?
Chromebook Pixel is Microsoft's worst nightmare come true -- and Apple's, too
The rumors were true! Google developed a touchscreen Chromebook for release this year. Like today! No one should misunderstand what the computer means competitively. Already, four Microsoft Windows partners produce Chromebooks -- Acer, HP, Lenovo and Samsung. Chromebook Pixel promises to do for the Chrome OS platform what Nexus devices did for Android smartphones and tablets: Establish a reference design for hardware partners and provide developers base system to develop apps for the platform. But it's also a competitive move against PCs running OS X or Windows and Google pushing Chrome OS into the premium notebook market.
Today Google unveiled Chromebook Pixel, following weeks of rumors. The company also extended a vision for Chrome OS. Bottom line: Commitment to the operating system is strong. The search and information giant briefed journalists in different cities. I had to turn down an invite to the San Francisco briefing because of family matters. Do I feel left out! But, hey.
Chromebook Pixel looks like MacBook Pro to me
Today's buzz among Chromebook aficionados and wannabes is a leaked video for a model supposedly being developed by Google with high resolution, touchscreen display -- that's 2560 x 1700, baby. The vid went up on YouTube, then mysteriously came down, but went back up virally, adding to the intrigue that maybe, just maybe, the touchy-feely Chromebook is real. In your dreams.
Who doesn't love a good mystery, particularly gadget freaks desperate for something more and bloggers clawing over one another for greater pageviews. Conspiracy is an Internet meme that never grows old. But there's something oh-so wrong with the Chromebook Pixel shown in the video. Doesn't the computer look a whole lot like Apple MacBook Pro? Similarities are striking, which makes me wonder whether Google imitates art or this video isn't for a real product. Perhaps it's just pitch for one.