Chromebook Pixel – A Bad Idea?

Chromebook Pixel

The Chromebook Pixel: A Pretty face, but is it worth $1300?

Chromebooks have been a bit of a mixed bag for many people. Some users love the idea of a lightweight, browser-focused operating system, and others feel like a computer that just runs browser apps is a waste of money. When Chromebooks occupied the $199-$300 space, they fit a niche as a lightweight “secondary machine”. Yesterday Google branched out in a shocking new direction, announcing the touchscreen, high-resolution, Chromebook Pixel. A touchscreen Chromebook is big news all by itself, but the price is really generating buzz. At $1,299 for the WiFi model, is Google overestimating the appeal of ChromeOS? The Gear Diary Team spent all afternoon debating the Chrome Pixel, and whether it’s worth that eye-popping price tag!

Joel McLaughlin $1300? Never.
Deni Tako I’m with Joel – the Pixel looks interesting enough, but with only 32GB of memory & WiFi only, I think it’s crazy and would only take one for free. Even for free, I’m not sure how much use it would get. $1300 would have to include an unlimited data plan forever for me to buy it. WiFi only when everything is in the cloud doesn’t cut it. They’d have to be responsible to KEEP me in the cloud for that much money!
Joel McLaughlin It’s pretty … that much is certain. However it’s just not viable.
Michael Anderson Never … I would buy a Surface Pro first. Nice Gorilla Glass panel, though … yay for that  Also, I think it is a total ‘meh’ design.
Joel McLaughlin Actually I like it. It’s pretty sleek … but I fail to see why I would want to buy that versus a Samsung one.
Chromebook Pixel - A Bad Idea?Carly Z I think the Samsung Series 3 Chromebook (the $249 one) looks awesome. This? I just don’t know. It’s a lot of money for the leap of faith that ChromeOS grows up to need that kind of power.
Michael Anderson I haven’t explored Chrome OS deeply, but right now I think a $829 iPad with 4G would be more useful … at least for me. @Carly, I agree. But they look like awesome inexpensive laptops. On this space you are dealing with Apple and Sony, and this looks like a $799 ultra book
Chromebook Pixel - A Bad Idea? Carly Z Exactly. I am a big advocate of ChromeOS and I can’t even begin to outline a use case for a $1300 Chromebook.
Joel McLaughlin The ONLY way I could is if they actually made Chrome OS a FULL OS. Add some true desktop style apps — something like Libre Office or even their own. Maybe even add Steam to the mix as well. Since they ain’t doing that, then no. I DO want a Chromebook though, but I’d be just as happy with the Acer or Samsung, and they are MUCH cheaper. If I am spending $1300 I want a full system.
 Michael Anderson My thought exactly – I would love a Chromebook with a low-end data plan for light use … but then again, that is what I use the iPad for!
Deni Tako I haven’t even tried the Chromebook OS yet, but from what I understand it’s supposed to be similar to using say, all the Google apps for iOS, but on a simple “desktop.” Desktop in quotes because I guess it’s almost more of a launcher than a desktop, but you get the idea. Anyway, my fully loaded Sony Vaio with a 17″ screen and i7, upgraded screen and SSD/HDD hybrid drive & blueray drive cost $1100 when I got that last year. I can add an external dvd drive & copy DVDs (I do that a lot when I visit family), and it came with WiDo or whatever that is. It totally sucks for service around me, but it is in there… What I really want to know is who WILL buy it. Or who they think will drop that much on something with limited usage. Carly, do you know how much of the 32GB of memory is available to the user? Also, the free 1TB for 3 years because that’s how long they expect it to last? Jeez! I mean, I understand planned obsolescence via upgrades, but to start off saying that’s how long they expect it to last?
Travis Ehrlich I would buy if it was the Zombie apocalypse and they killed the zombies.
There you have it. No one on the Gear Diary team is rushing out with a credit card in hand for the Chrome Pixel. What’s your take? Are you ready to bet big on ChromeOS, or are you thinking this is just Google’s latest flash in the pan idea?

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About the Author

Zek has been a gadget fiend for a long time, going back to their first PDA (a Palm M100). They quickly went from researching what PDA to buy to following tech news closely and keeping up with the latest and greatest stuff. They love writing about ebooks because they combine their two favorite activities; reading anything and everything, and talking about fun new tech toys. What could be better?

18 Comments on "Chromebook Pixel – A Bad Idea?"

  1. ” I would buy if it was the Zombie apocalypse and they killed the zombies.” lol lol lol Personally I think it is nuts. The rockbottom-priced ChomeBooks are actually attractive but at this price I cannot see buying it over a MacBook air or an Ultrabook. … as Mike pointed out… a 128GB iPad since, even with a case and keyboard it would be less expensive.

  2. There are so many other fully-featured and better designed laptops that I would buy in the $1299 price range! To me, this price is shocking.

    I can’t imagine that Google will sell that many of these — and when I say “that many”, I am guessing under 50. =P

    • Are you including the ones that Google will likely give away to employees in that sales guess? If not, I think you aimed high.

      I really like ChromeOS, but this just mystifies me. If they had gone in the other direction, with a $150 Chromebook, they would sell them by the pallets. This is so niche I think the only people who would buy them are Sergey Brin and Larry Page!

      • Ha! I was thinking about how Google had sent out all those free ChromeBooks when they first came out (including one to you!). And while I know they aren’t likely sending any of these out to the general public for free, I could see them using these as a corporate gift.

        I do think that Google will sell some — just because there are billions of people on the earth, and there is no accounting for taste — but I can’t even begin to imagine the person who would choose this over a better-appointed laptop with a full OS. But you know that those people are out there! =P

      • By definition a chromebook is a compromise device. Cloud computing works fine and is getting better all the time but it’s still cloud computing. That’s not a problem when the price for hardware is actually low but to go up to this price point with something that, from the beginning, has limitations and always will makes no sense to me.

        • Very important point. And I think that what Deni says about the need for a data plan is important as well. I think these companies are at times ‘Valley Centric’ – they don’t think that 99% of the world is dealing with only having persistent WiFi at home, variable 3G/4G coverage based on location, and too much ‘off the grid’ time.

    • I agree whole heartedly with you. It looks like a nice device, just not at that price point. This is going to be a huge flop.

  3. I was just explaining the insanity of the Chrome Pixel to a coworker and had a sudden thought.

    What if this a cart before the horse move, and Google has something HUGE planned for ChromeOS? Maybe there’s a big update coming that will merge Chrome and Android…that would account for the touchscreen. Still doesn’t explain why they released this as is, but gives it a future.


  4. Historically, installing a distro of Linux on a Chromebook has been a cinch, because ChromeOS itself is just a streamlined distro of Linux. So the Pixel would be great for anyone who wanted a sleek and poweful laptop designed for Linux in the first place and is comfortable doing the grunt work of an OS install.

    I guess neither Deni nor Travis have any interest in the Chrome browser at all in the first place? Because as lukewarm as I am about ChromeOS, I’d buy this in a heartbeat if it had the “normal” Chromebook pricing, as opposed to “You’d have to pay me to take it.” If nothing else, I bet you’d be able to install Windows or even OSX on it and have a pretty sweet $450 ultrabook.

    • If this were $450, I would be first in line for it. They just way overshot with the price.

      • I would go as far as to say that even a price of $750 would be worth it. There’d be a lot of folks trying to figure out how to trim Windows or OSX to fit on it.

        • I’m starting to think that there is something to what Carly said about this being the opening round of something bigger. Google isn’t stupid and this is a stupid move unless it’s part of a larger play.
          —– Reply message —–

  5. I’m not sure that they will sell all that many of these, but perhaps there is a market for it. I know that I have tried to live on just the CR-48 when that came out and I found just a bit too limiting. (Of course, iPads are limiting too; there are still websites that are Flash based, and the Chromebooks have an advantage there. But that problem will be reduced to triviality at some point soon.)

    These days I think being limited to WiFi only is less of an issue that it used to be; it’s so easy to WiFi tether smartphones or MyFi type devices.

    Perhaps we are getting closer to being able to live on Cloud storage only (and there are many of Google’s ChromeOS “apps” that can run offline – GMail, Google Docs for example) – but I don’t think that we are $1300 device close.

    I guess I could imagine an office where each employee is given a high-end Chromebook like this. Lose it or break it? A new Chromebook would arguably be easier to reconfigure than a Windows laptop or a Macbook.

    Otherwise, I can’t imagine somebody buying this over a Macbook…

    • “But that problem will be reduced to triviality at some point soon.”

      So true but still amazing to me how quickly that change came about.

      My issue is still not the whole “living in the cloud Google OS thing”. I get it. I know why it is advantageous on many levels. And I appreciate the speed with which the approach is improving. My issue remains the price of this device. Sure, it isn’t even in the ballpark of what Judie and I paid for our MBPretina’s but $1300 is still in mid to premium territory. Spending that much money for something that IS currently limited because of the state of Cloud Apps and connectivity just strikes me as nuts.

      • I really think there are two possibilities here:
        1) Google has a plan for a very dramatic improvement to ChromeOS in the near future, and they released the Pixel first to get the hardware seeded out to early adopters.

        2) Google vastly overestimated how much people are willing to pay for a touchscreen device.

        If they just wanted a more premium ChromeOS device, they could have easily come in well under $1300 with specs that would have been more than overkill for Chrome. But by putting that much power and hardware in it, they are either setting the stage for a big change soon, or so out of touch they thought that was a great price.

        Or who knows…maybe it will come with a free pair of Google Glasses? 😉

      • Actually $1300 is very much ‘premium’ – it is a ‘luxury laptop’, with the average selling point being a 15″ laptop for ~$750.

        Another thought occurred to me – that at $1300 they are pricing themselves intentionally out of being competitive. They want the ‘proof of concept’, they want it out there, but they don’t want to cannibalize their partners or take on the burden of too high sales. Maybe?

  6. One thing I thought of since we did this is that the 1300 price comes with 1 TB of storage in the cloud.

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