Read about Mark's adventures as he travelled to Argyll's Secret Coast for Digital Tourism Scotland
This article was originally written in 2015. The opinions shared below are still valid.
Is this just an overpriced gadget or is it a serious competitor to other "sub-notebooks"?
This is the debate I've seen raging across tech blogs and YouTube channels, and while I've heard Google's latest Chromebook, revamped for 2015, as being the Chromebook you'll want to buy, you probably shouldn't.
But I did and here's why.
I typically cart around a 15" Retina MacBook Pro. I'm now onto my 5 MacBook Pro since September 2009. I love them, and for the past 5 and half years, these laptops have served as my main computer, my daily workhorse and my personal web browser.
However, while it's a true workhorse, specced out with 15Gb of RAM and a 500Gb SSD, it isn't the lightest tool to be carrying around with me daily, especially when I don't always need all of its processing and GPU power.
Often-times I'm simply hooking it up to a VGA projector, or working on a client's blog content. I don't need a high-end, heavy laptop for this. And I certainly don't need to back ache.
So when Apple announced the new MacBook I was intrigued and eventually tempted enough to come within a whisker of placing an order with my local Apple Store's business unit.
But I was sceptical enough to pause and consider that while the new MacBook looks gorgeous, it's limited. Especially in the ports department, sporting a single USB-C port and a headphone jack.
Around the same time as being tempted by the MacBook I was seeing more and more social content on the Chromebook Pixel 2. With it's sleek aluminium housing, incredible (touch) screen and it's 8Gb of RAM, I was impressed by it.
And then when you factor in its TWO USB-C ports, plus TWO USB 3 ports, and an SD card slot, I was even more impressed. To the point where I cancelled my order with Apple, and watched as many YouTube reviews of it as a I could.
Then I ordered one from Google...
Ok, after living with it for 2 weeks here's my thoughts.
Yes, it's limited, but not in the ways I thought. I was already a Chrome user and all of my business admin is done using either Google Docs, Google Drive (where I have 1Tb of cloud storage) or Google Mail/Calendar. So using a laptop where everything else is run through Chrome isn't a hassle for me whatsoever.
Its limitations, for me so far, are purely in video editing. But then I wasn't planning on doing any kind of video editing on this, my second, more portable laptop.
When it comes to creating blog content, for example, the Pixel is perfect. I can even quickly and smartly edit photo content, either directly from my camera's SD card, or any of the hundreds of client photos I've got stored on Google Drive.
Running presentations is a breeze too, especially as I've been spending time over the last few months migrating my existing slide decks from Keynote to PowerPoint then uploading them to Google Slides (using my Google Drive storage to host them).
This week I've been creating a new slide deck for workshop I'm delivering on Thursday. This is the second time I've built a new presentation on Google Slides exclusively, and doing so on the Pixel has been very satisfying, especially considering how rich and bright the screen is.
With regards to the screen, it sits at a more 4x3 aspect ratio than my MacBook Pro, which takes a wee bit of getting used to, but as this is primarly a web browsing laptop, it's actually pretty beneficial. I admit that I rarely use the touchscreen, but when I have I can report it's super responsive, just slide swiping around on the screen of an iPad.
All in all, though, the key benefit of the Pixel in my experience is the battery.
In the past two week's there have been two occasions when I was out of the office all day and used the Pixel in a variety of locations, from Starbucks to a client's premises, to back in the office again. And not once did I need to plug the Pixel into a power point. Which is just as well as I didn't bring the charger with me.
Of course, if like me you always carry around a USB charging pack, you can use Google's optional extra USB-C cable to top up the battery while you're charging your phone, for example.
Yes, battery life is amazing. It truly does run all day, even with the screen at full brightness.
So, all in all I'd say the Pixel is worthy the price. You just need to weigh up what you need it for. If, like me, you needed a laptop for almost exclusively web-based work, and you've always got access to an internet connection (I always carry a MiFi), then the Pixel is absolutely worth considering.
No it isn't cheap, but you're getting a very premium looking, feeling and performing laptop. And all the ports make it a true road-warrior.
I recommend it.