As much as I love the Chromebook Pixel, here's what I would change

The touch screen on the Chromebook Pixel would be a lot more useful if it ran Android apps. Credit: Google

You've read all the reviews. You probably already know the $1200 Chromebook Pixel is a gorgeous piece of hardware. It's got a wonderful clickety keyboard, a smooth trackpad that flows like butter. The screen resolution is dazzling and it's got a touch screen if you were so inclined to touch that gorgeous display and mess it with your finger prints.

Google has put together a stellar piece of hardware. There's no denying that, but is it perfect?

No, it's not. I've been using it for a few days now, and decided to put together this Chromebook Pixel wish list.

I wish it didn't run ChromeOS

I know that's what it for, but as much as I love the hardware -- and I really, really do -- I'm running into some of the same limitations I felt when I was reviewing the lower end $249 Samsung Chromebook. You're working in a browser all day (with few exceptions) and it's a pain sometimes. As my son said, "$1200 for a machine that runs a browser?" He has a right to be skeptical in this regard. In spite of the quality of the hardware, there are some real open questions here when it comes to ChromeOS.

For starters, I had a meeting set up last week on Skype,  only to find, I can't run Skype in ChromeOS. There may be a way, but I couldn't figure it out -- not on the Skype website and not in the Chrome web store.

I like to write in Google Docs, which given this is a Google-centric device would seem to be a pretty good workflow, right? Unfortunately, when you copy text from Google Docs and paste it into just about any content management system, it clutters the HTML code with <span> codes. I get around this usually by saving the document in interim step in a text editor and the problem is solved. It's not possible to do this with ChromeOS, so it forces me to rethink my workflow, which makes me cranky.

I wish it ran Android apps to take advantage of the touch screen 

The good news is the Chromebook Pixel has a touch screen. The bad news is there really isn't much need for it because ChromeOS is not really geared to a touch screen experience. Sure, you can do it, but it feels forced, and this is especially true when you consider how truly wonderful the trackpad is on this device. You don't feel a need to take your hands off the keyboard or trackpad because they work so nicely.

One way to change that and take advantage of its touchability would be to use Android applications, something that's been rumored for a while, but still hasn't happened yet. If you ported Android apps to ChromeOS, it would give me a reason to want to touch my screen (even though that sounds weird). Perhaps now that Android and Chrome are under the same leader at Google -- Sundar Pichai -- they'll finally start to merge.

I wish it weren't so rectangular

I know that sounds like a nitpick, but the machine has to feel good and I don't like the boxy look of the design or the hard edges. Personal preference I know, but while I like the grey steel industrial look -- when I pulled it out of the box for the first time I did ooh and ahh a bit -- I prefer my edges softer and beveled.

I wish it were just a bit bigger 

The Chromebook Pixel is definitely heavier than its lower priced counterparts, but it is still small enough to carry around comfortably. That said, I wish it were just a bit larger. The screen and keyboard are just (and I mean just) big enough for me, but if they could be a bit bigger and everything wouldn't be quite so crowded -- and if you had bigger hands than mine you might not be happy.

All that said, let me reiterate that I love the hardware, and I would strongly consider paying the premium for this machine -- if it weren't for these limitations. Google is so close with this one. It hit a triple. With some adjustments, it could be a homerun.

Join the discussion
Be the first to comment on this article. Our Commenting Policies