Chromebook Pixel Hands-On: A Lightning Fast Laptop for the Life OnlineS

Yes, the new Google Chromebook Pixel is relatively pricey—especially for something that's not a "real" computer—but it does what it was designed to do really, really well.

The case is constructed of anodized aluminum and is surprisingly light (3.4 pounds) given its full-size keyboard. The lid lifts and closes with a single finger. When closed, a thin LED strip glows blue before the system goes to sleep. It's a nice touch, albeit functionally useless.

Chromebook Pixel Hands-On: A Lightning Fast Laptop for the Life OnlineS

The 13-inch, 239ppi capacitive touch display running at 2560 x 1700 resolution is gorgeous and bright. HD Vimeo and Hulu videos are crisp and smooth. The Pixel's speakers still provide a fair range of sound despite being hidden under the rear plate. The capacitive Gorilla Glass is fast, responsive, and accurate. It provides a natural compliment to the laptop's sliky smooth touch-pad which itself feels like I'm swiping over velvet. The keyboard itself is quite comfortable, its chiclet keys have a fair amount of give without feeling mushy—great for hard and fast typists.

Chromebook Pixel Hands-On: A Lightning Fast Laptop for the Life OnlineS

With vents hidden along the back edge combined with a 32 or 64 GB internal SSD, the Pixel is incredibly quiet. The I/O ports—a pair of USB 2.0s and an SD slot—are intentionally unmarked on account that most everybody can discern the difference without looking for an icon.

Chromebook Pixel Hands-On: A Lightning Fast Laptop for the Life OnlineS

An Intel 1.8Ghz i5 chip with 4GB of RAM provides more than enough power to Chrome OS. The system boots in about 15 seconds, instantly awakens from its sleep state, and shows no signs of lag when running multiple apps—even with multiple web pages running.

The OS itself may be seen as restrictive—standalone programs are a no go—but for those of us that use our laptops primarily as on-line terminals rather than traditional desktops, these limitations are hardly noticeable.