Why I decided to get a Chromebook Pixel (a.k.a. being fiscally irresponsible)

A couple weeks ago, I asked you – my dear readers – to please convince me not to get the Google Chromebook Pixel. Many of you told me that it was a waste of my money, to be patient for something better and more affordable to come along, to buy something with a “real” operating system if I was going to be spending that much, and basically that I’d be a fool if I even considered it.

Thanks for that. But, as Kevin Tofel has already so eloquently put it, naysayers be damned. After obsessively googling the Pixel, visiting forums and Google+ communities, and reading and absorbing all I could about Google’s high-end laptop, I decided to throw caution to the wind and I pulled the trigger. But how could I, in my right mind, spend $1299 on what many consider to be a “glorified web browser”? As someone fresh out of grad school for about a year, who is working on paying down his student debts and is barely scraping by in this tough economy, how could I possibly think this decision is OK? Am I high? Drunk?

To be completely honest, I made the final decision to purchase the Chromebook Pixel after a bottle of merlot, but that’s beside the point: when I sobered up, I decided not to cancel the order, and it’s arriving on my doorstep sometime tomorrow. (You can expect a full unboxing here on Pocketables as soon as it shows up!)

Here’s why I did it – some of the reasons are personal and unique to me, and some might apply to anyone. Everyone is different, so only you can decide if it ultimately makes sense for you.

1. I was overdue for a new laptop, anyway.

I’ve never really been a fan of desktop computers, opting instead for the most powerful laptop I could buy for the least amount of money. On average, I’ve kept each laptop as my main “desktop” computer for around 3.5 years each. My current laptop, though – a Sony Vaio that originally ran Windows Vista – is now well into its fourth year of use. It has served me well, and has had several parts replaced, so it could probably keep going for a couple more years – but it’s getting kind of slow, even after a fresh install of Windows 7. It’s also big, and clunky, and heavy, with terrible battery life. It might actually make a great secondary computer, which leads me to my next point.

2. I’m already able to live 100% in the cloud.

My experience with the inexpensive ARM Samsung Chromebook convinced me, once and for all, that I can live in the cloud. All of my files have already been moved over to Google Drive, all of my photos are in Picasa/Google+, and all of my music is in Google Play Music. Chrome is the first thing I install on any new computer, and I’ve grown accustomed to web apps taking over most of the traditional software that I used to run.

I’ve talked about this before, so it doesn’t make much sense to go on and on about it here – but needless to say, I am Google’s perfect target user for the Chromebook Pixel. And for those rare instances when I need to use QPST to push a new PRL to my HTC EVO 4G LTE, or do some other wildly obscure task that only Windows can accomplish, I’ll still have my Sony Vaio notebook, patiently sitting on my desk, ready for me to open it and use it in a pinch. But if my previous experience is any indicator, that will hardly ever happen.

3. I’ve never splurged on really nice hardware before.

Don’t get me wrong – I’ve splurged on mobile devices all the time. The EVO 4G LTE is a beauty, as is the ASUS Transformer Pad Infinity. Those are excellent devices, built beautifully, that were (are) cutting edge for their times. But I’ve never splurged on a really nice laptop before.

From the unibody design that is machined from an anodized aluminum alloy, to the backlit chiclet keyboard; from the 4.3 million pixels that are indiscernible to the naked eye, to the etched glass trackpad; from the touch-sensitive Gorilla Glass 2 display with 178-degree viewing angles to the surprisingly loud and crisp invisible speakers that are hidden under the keyboard – it’s obvious that a lot of time, hardwork, and dare I say artistry went into this thing. Some would argue, and rightly so, that the Pixel is worth the asking price for the hardware alone, regardless of what operating system it’s running. Many say that you just have to see the Pixel’s screen in person before you can appreciate how marvelous it really is – that words just can’t do it justice.

Yes, I’m selling practically everything except my first-born on eBay in order to afford this. And yes, I’m trusting a lot in the opinions of others, since I’ve never seen the Pixel in person myself. But given the fact that it’s darn near impossible to find any negative comments about the build quality, I’m convinced that it’s worth it.

4. The fact that it doesn’t run Windows 8 or OS X really isn’t a handicap to me.

I’ve used Windows all of my adult life, and most of my life growing up, too. But it wasn’t until recently that I realized I don’t really need 99% of what Windows can do for me. And is that 1% of functionality really worth the constant nagging to update, the long virus scans that bog down my whole system, the risk of toolbars and spyware showing up whenever someone borrows my computer for a few minutes, and the general slowdown that all Windows machines seem to suffer after a few years of use?

Through my experience with the Samsung Chromebook, I learned that I don’t need Windows. And, depending on how you look at it, Windows is actually the system that oftentimes holds me back, while Chrome OS lets me soar through all the headaches and clutter, allowing me to turn on my computer, instantly start browsing the web and using apps, and in general be more productive.

In the time it takes Windows to boot up, I could already be well on my way to publishing an article here on Pocketables, for example. In the time it takes my virus scan to complete, I could have published three articles on Pocketables. In the time it takes me to go through all my install disks and install a fresh copy of Windows once, I could have restored my Chromebook literally dozens of times.

But what about Apple? While I’m not an avid user of any Apple products, I do have reservations about purchasing anything from a company as closed and – many would argue – behind the times as Apple. It’s also true that Apple now shares many of the same headaches as Windows, from insufferable lag, to viruses, to things simply not working the way you want them to. No thank you.

And if I really need desktop functionality on the Chromebook Pixel, it will take me about 15 minutes to install Ubuntu, using crouton, which will allow me to run Linux from the same kernel as Chrome OS. I can then start uploading new music to Google Play Music, editing audio in Audacity, editing pictures in Gimp, and Skyping with any of my friends who refuse to use Google.

5. Like it or not, the future is in the cloud – and I’ll already be there to welcome all you stragglers.

Will desktop computing ever really die? No, probably not – there are certain things developers, artists, and others need that can’t be adequately done with current web-based solutions. That being said, I’m confident that soon – a lot sooner than you think – 100% of what 99% of people will need from their computers will be in the cloud. For the remaining 1%, about 90% of what they need will be in the cloud. That leaves 1% who will need powerful desktop machines to do about 10% of their work.

Now, these numbers are obviously arbitrary and don’t mean much, but it’s not just me who is saying this. Most experts agree, and after all, why would Google put so much into the Chromebook Pixel if it didn’t believe this same thing itself? There’s a reason why the Pixel is “for what’s next” … we’re not completely there yet, but we’re getting there. And because I’m the kind of person who doesn’t like to get left behind, I’ll already be there when everyone else arrives, keeping your seat warm for you.

 

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John F

John was the editor-in-chief at Pocketables. His articles generally focus on all things Google, including Chrome and Android, although his love of new gadgets and technology doesn't stop there. His current arsenal includes the Nexus 6 by Motorola, the 2013 Nexus 7 by ASUS, the Nexus 9 by HTC, the LG G Watch, and the Chromebook Pixel, among others.