Google just announced the Chromebook Pixel. It’s a $1,300 laptop with a an extremely high pixel density, limited local storage and made of machined metal (probably aluminium).
There’s a few problems, though.
You can’t install apps
The core idea of the Chromebooks is that they’re entirely web-based. You run all your apps through a browser. That means no high performance applications like Photoshop and 3D games.
If you want to edit photos using that high resolution screen, you’ll have to use web apps with limited functionality.
The other meaningful tasks you might want to do with a machine with specs like these, development, gaming, design, simply isn’t possible. While you can run webbased IDEs like Cloud 9 in your browser, you can’t install a real IDE like Netbeans, Eclipse, etc. Not to mention virtual machines and multiple browsers.
Only 32 or 64 GB storage and only 4 GB RAM
Usually, I’m not the one to complain about specs. I’m of the opinion that upgrading your laptop is largely passé. However, for a laptop with this price tag and resolution, I’d say 4GB is the bare minimum, especially when working with large documents in Google Docs which seems to get ridiculously slow when working with large documents.
Google does a lot to emphasise the free 1 terabyte free cloud storage you get with the laptop (only for 3 years though).
If you’re in a place that has no internet, you can’t put a couple HD movies on there. There’s imply no room.
The Retina 13″ MacBook pro is only $200 more. Compared to all the extra functionality you get with a Mac, the chromebook feels too expensive.
Google’s other ARM based Chromebooks are much cheaper – think $6-700 less, and that price makes sense. For the price, the Pixel feels like a vanity product for rich people.
You need to be connected 24/7
Since the Pixel is cloud based, you really need to have a reliable internet connection available whenever you’re going to use it. That comes with a price, though. The HD moves you would want to watch would consume even the biggest LTE data plans quickly, or you would have to make do with the slow internet connections in McDonalds or Starbucks. For a mobile device, this is a big problem.
But it’s not all bad
The Chromebook Pixel is an interesting device. It’s certainly a beautiful device. While obviously designed to be a competitor to the Retina MacBook Pro, there’s still some upsides to it:
You’ll probably be able to install Linux, like many do with the existing chromebooks. This lets you install applications on your machine, making it not totally cloud-dependent.
I’m also hoping there’s a way to upgrade the storage. 32GB or 64GB is simply way too little, even with 1 TB cloud storage. For now, this is basically a $1300 Web browser with a puzzling target group.