Let’s spend a minute talking about status symbols. In every culture, certain things become elevated as carrying value and importance above and beyond themselves. In more heroic times, a scar denoted meritorious service in battle. Being fat in the dark ages was as good a symbol of wealth as Gucci handbags are today. Fashionable accessories are status symbols today, which is as clear a sign as any that ours is a materialistic and wealth obsessed culture. Harsh, maybe, but not all status symbols are as vain. 
Gadgets have long been status symbols, as far back as the Motorola brick phones, and further back to color televisions and FM radios. Technology itself is insufficient to be a status symbol, though, because while a $1200 purse will remain unattainable for the masses, every technological bauble will eventually be mass produced and sold at Walmart. For a gadget to be a status symbol it needs more than just hardware and software, though missing on either of those can be crippling. Status symbols are sexy. They’re unique, though that quality is often short-lived. And, they’re expensive. The Motorola StarTac was a status symbol. The HP LaserJet 1200 was a status symbol. Sony’s earliest HDTVs were status symbols. And then, of course, there’s Apple. Apple breeds status symbols. Every category they’re involved in is trendsetting in style, provides a laudable user experience, and commands a premium over their competitors. 
Google, is almost utterly absent from the lengthy list of status symbols. To some degree, that has been part of the company’s ethos. Their goal has been to provide users with the best user experience possible, and at the best price possible, which is as often as not: free. Making something free can really boost early uptake, but it doesn’t make for a good status symbol. Even Google’s Nexus line has really only built status symbols for the gadget inclined, I doubt my wife could spot a Galaxy Nexus from across a room, let alone the Nexus 4. Google is a services company. They develop search tools, mail clients and cloud-based solutions. They help you keep your schedule, catalog your work and life, find a decent Chinese take-out near by, and play some Angry Birds while you wait for your order to be ready. They’re useful, essential even, but boring, and unlikely to sell something that you crave in an entirely illogical and excessive manner. Right? 

It ships in a typically minimalistic box. I don’t mean typical for Google, I mean typical for an industry that has learned that gaudy packaging is more likely to hinder than help sales. Though it looks like you’d push one recessed end of the package out to slide the box from its sleeve, entry is actually made by lifting a flap held in place by magnets. I’m a cheap date when it comes to packaging. Magnets will always win me over. Once revealed, the grey slab is irresistible. It wins you over before it does anything but sit there. The exposed hinges are masked by a silver barrel that runs the width of the device. The aluminum is cold to the touch, and the only flourish is the LED strip lower down the lid, dormant, but nonetheless exciting for its potential. It’s lighter than you expect when you lift it, and feels solid; not simply in the sense of its rigidity, it feels like a block of aluminum weighing just north of 3 pounds. Right angles abound but are softened with chamfered edges making it comfortable to hold and touch. Its meager thickness is uniform across its length, and the weight is similarly balanced, avoiding the rearward bias of other notebooks. Almost without thought I find myself torquing and flexing against the device; my hands struggling to elicit a single creak or bend from the frame. Setting it down and lifting the lid, it boots in a breath, and reveals an image so rich with detail I’m drawn closer to get a better look. Chromebook or not, the Pixel is a status symbol. And I want it.
Context and Design Why Not Android?
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  • 8steve8 - Friday, May 31, 2013 - link

    I like how you compare it to both laptops and tablets in performance charts, but I'm disappointed that the battery life charts didn't include other laptops.
  • Nimer55 - Saturday, June 1, 2013 - link

    I got a chromebook (non-LTE) at I/O, and have been using it instead of my Vizio 14 as my primary machine, and I've gotten the "So it's like an iPad" question a few times, and I've been absolutely clueless as to how this was like an iPad. To me, it appeared to be the opposite of a iPad; you only get websites, where as iOS is all about using an app for everything. Not the mention I get a keyboard to type on. Thank you for clearing that up.

    Overall, I felt the review was well done; I agree with the 4gb of ram not being enough. I feel performance degrading as I get to few dozen tabs. I really love this laptop, but I would never buy it; it's out of my price range.

    The non-tapered edges to make the device appear thicker than it is, but it also makes it feel higher-quality. Having an edge that becomes really thin gives it a "toy-esk" feeling. (My Vizio 14 has it, it makes it feel less premium... Though it's non-aluminum back could be a good cost saving technique if Google were to decide to create one for under a $1000...That and a 1080p-ish resolution would be the most logical cost saving tools to me. Those and a cheaper, but next-gen CPU would be way of getting the price to around $750).
  • jabber - Sunday, June 2, 2013 - link

    "a few dozen tabs".....

    Wow...what exactly are you doing that requires 24+ browser tabs open?

    I have the Samsung 11" Chromebook and use it a lot but usually sits around half a dozen open max.
  • Selden - Saturday, June 1, 2013 - link

    Excellent review, as I expect from Anandtech. I agree with you fully about memory management, which is an Achilles heel for Chrome OS. ZRAM definitely helps, but the file manager, even on the latest beta (Version 28.0.1500.20), is an utter pig. I'm on an extended trip to Alaska, taking a lot of photos, and copying, let alone viewing/editing photos quickly runs free memory down below 100 mb. Pushed hard enough, the image viewer will start behaving erratically; the only option then is to restart — fortunately, a rapid process, but it shouldn't be necessary.
  • leexgx - Saturday, June 1, 2013 - link

    for the price of the new chromebook 8gb of ram should be very easy
  • nerdstalker - Saturday, June 1, 2013 - link

    For a device that promises mostly web browsing and integration with the cloud services, WiFi performance of Pixel is not stellar. It has 2x2 MIMO (2 dual band antennas) that is comparable to Macbook Air. However, WiFi performance is not as good as MBA, especially 5 GHz. rMBP models on the other hand (both 13" and 15") have top notch 3x3 MIMO (3 dual band antennas) with pretty good throughputs.
  • internetf1fan - Saturday, June 1, 2013 - link

    Few things about your review.

    #1) Why did you use sunspider 0.9.1 when V1 was just recently released?

    #2) Since you are comparing hardware, it would be best to use the same software where possible. Chrome OS the chrome browser, so instead of using stock browser on other OS, you should have installed chrome on Mac and Surface Pro as well so that the hardware comparison would be consistend.
  • leexgx - Saturday, June 1, 2013 - link

    all other tests was done with 0.9.1

    at least test stock and chrome on sunspider
  • ECIT - Monday, June 3, 2013 - link

    I must admit that I was a bit sceptical when the Pixel was announced. Google has enough work convincing people to buy into the whole Chromebook concept even with low-cost versions, let alone at Pixel's price.

    On the other hand, the Pixel does look pretty cool. And I do think that Chromebooks in general have their place in the market, especially as a second home device. Most people spend a lot of their time on the Internet anyway, and there are more and more web apps out there.

    For those that are considering Chromebooks but still need to access Windows applications, they can look at Ericom AccessNow, an HTML5 RDP client that enables Chromebook users to connect to Terminal Server or VDI virtual desktops, and run Windows applications or even full desktops in a browser tab.

    Click here for more information:

    Please note that I work for Ericom
  • jeffkro - Monday, June 3, 2013 - link

    Wow, way to expensive and an overkill display for the screen size. I would like to see a 14-15" 1080p chromebook in the $500-600 range, no laptops should have less than 1080p these days. Also since chrome OS is so lightweight you really only need a 1.5ghz celeron processor.

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