Two years ago Google released the original Chromebook Pixel to the world. To this day it has remained the most premium and expensive Chromebook ever made, with specifications that rivaled Ultrabooks more so than the time. Its display was also one of the first HiDPI displays to be put on a laptop, which is where the name Chromebook Pixel comes from. Unfortunately, Chrome OS was still in its early days when the original Pixel launched, and it suffered both from a high barrier to entry with its price, and a lack of software functionality that buyers of expensive laptops required. Since that time, Google has continually improved their cloud based applications offerings to have more features and work more seamlessly with existing file formats used by desktop software like Microsoft Office.

That brings us to today, with the launch of the new Chromebook Pixel. On first glance, it's difficult to tell this new Pixel from the old one. The chassis has remained largely the same, including its dimensions and its mass. But a careful examination will reveal that this new Pixel makes some huge improvements over the original model, and adopts some new technologies that will be very important going into the future. To get an idea of how this year's Chromebook Pixel compares to the old model, I've put together a chart with the key specifications of both versions below.

  Chromebook Pixel (2013) Chromebook Pixel (2015)
Dimensions 11.72 x 8.84 x 0.64" 11.72 x 8.84 x 0.64"
Mass 1.52kg 1.52kg
CPU Core i5-3337U (2 cores + HT) Core i5-5200U (2 cores + HT)
L3 Cache 3MB 3MB
Base CPU Clock 1.8GHz 2.2GHz
Max CPU Turbo 2.7GHz 2.7GHz
GPU Intel HD 4000 Intel HD 5500
System Memory 4GB DDR3L-1600 8GB DDR3L-1600
Storage 32GB SSD 32GB
Display 12.85" 2560x1700 IPS LCD 12.85" 2560x1700 IPS LCD
Battery 59 Wh 59 Wh
Ports 2 x USB2, Mini DisplayPort, 3.5mm audio, 2 x USB Type-C, 2 x USB3, 3.5mm audio, SD card
Connectivity 2x2 802.11a/b/g/n + BT 3.0 2x2 802.11a/b/g/n/ac + BT 4.0
Launch Price $1299 $999

Like I said above, there are some aspects of this new Pixel that are unchanged from the original. The size, shape, and mass of the laptop remains the same, as do the the basic specifications of its display. But once you move beyond the physical aspects of the device, things become much more interesting. The first big change is to the CPU, which makes sense given that its been two years since the original Pixel was launched. This new model adopts the i5-5200U which is one of Intel's Broadwell-U CPUs. It's a 2.2GHz dual core part which can turbo up to 2.7GHz when required. The GPU also moves up to Intel's HD 5500 graphics from the HD 4000 graphics on the older Ivy Bridge model. While there will be some degree of performance improvement from the new CPU, the real improvement it helps to bring is greatly improved battery life. Google's battery life estimate for the new Pixel is 12 hours, which is a massive increase over the 5 hours of battery life estimated for the original Pixel.

Perhaps the biggest change of all on the new Pixel is its new port configuration. The original model had two USB 2.0 ports, a Mini DisplayPort output, and your standard 3.5mm audio jack and charging port. The new Pixel does away with the dedicated Mini DisplayPort as well as the power jack, and instead replaces both of them with an incredibly versatile standard that we're finally seeing come to market. Much like the MacBook that Apple launched two days ago, the new Chromebook Pixel features the new USB Type-C standard for both expansion, connections, and charging. However, Google has recognized the benefit of being able to both charge and connect devices simultaneously, and so they've included two USB Type-C ports on the Pixel. What's also nice about the inclusion of one Type-C port on each side is that it allows the Pixel's charger to be plugged in to whichever side of the laptop is more convenient in a given situation. 

Since Type-C is so versatile, it can replace a whole range of legacy ports. Google will be selling accessories to allow the connection of older USB devices, DisplayPort monitors, and HDMI cords. Google also sells a Type-C to Standard-A cable which can be used to hook the Pixel to any existing USB charging block. You can see the prices for each adapter in the image above. In addition to the two USB Type-C ports, the Pixel also has two USB 3.0 ports, the previously mentioned 3.5mm audio jack, and an SD card reader. 

In addition to the standard Chromebook Pixel, Google will also be offering a Chromebook Pixel LS. The LS stands for "Ludicrous Speed", and this configuration bumps the CPU to an Intel i7 processor, while doubling both the RAM and SSD storage to 16GB and 64GB respectively. Both these models will only be available in the United States and United Kingdom, with starting prices of $999 for the normal edition and $1299 for the LS edition.

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  • Novacius - Wednesday, March 11, 2015 - link

    The original Chromebook Pixel never was buyable in Germany. I hope that'll change now because I want one!
  • Roland00Address - Wednesday, March 11, 2015 - link

    $999 is too much for this. I understand the specs are nice but for that type of money you would get a mac or a windows pc. I like some of the advantages of chrome over windows (it also has disadvantages) but $999 is way too close to the mac in price.

    The Old Haswell Macbook Pro Retina 13 is being clearanced for $1030 new.

    The new 13" Broadwell - U Macbook Pros (the real i5s and i7s) are going to retail for $1299 at the apple store and you can usually find them about a $100 cheaper from authorized retailers brand new in about a few weeks.

    The 12" Macbook Retina, the new one is 920 grams. This is 1520 grams a difference of 600 grams which means this is 65% heavier. The new 12" Macbook Retina uses Intel's Broadwell-Y Core M which is a little faster than a 15w 4th Gen Haswell Core i3 . Yes the chromebook has two usb c ports not one, but 600 grams is quite heavy for an extra port. Furthermore if you were going to connect either one to a monitor you are still going to need an extra cable or an adapter with either the chromebook or the mac. And micro hdmi is a very rare cable so you will need a speciality cable or an micro hdmi to hdmi adapter so once again you need an adapter.

    Furthermore Chrome is an opensource project so you can easily put a Chrome OS onto a windows pc as a dual boot or using Chrome OS in a Virtual Machine. Yes I understand this is already pre-installed but if you are going to spend the extra $700 for an i5 chromebook with a higher than 1080p screen you want far more capabilities than a faster cpu. If you are not technical enough for dual boot or virtual machine then you probably really do not need an i5 for $1000 dollars.

    You can now get 13" 1080p ips screen chromebooks for $330 with the Toshiba Chromebook 2.

    You can also very soon get a chromebook with a 15" 1080p ips with an i3 5005u (2.0ghz) or a broadwell celeron 3205u (1.5 ghz) made by acer. I have not seen the released prices for the ips and the i3 models but the crappy tn 768 panel with the celeron will be $249.
  • T1beriu - Wednesday, March 11, 2015 - link

    The Pixel is so expensive because it's made in limited quantities. Its primary users are Chrome OS developers and Google employees, mainly the ones working on Chrome OS team. Google made this for itself and said "since we made this we can share it to our Chrome OS hardcore fans".

    When you make something in such a limited quantity you can't bring the research, development and manufacturing price down.
  • Roland00Address - Wednesday, March 11, 2015 - link

    We call that an inefficiency of the market. As in wasted money. Sure you got a great product but it should not cost that much but it does for you limited your market share or you are competing in too highly competitive of a market that there is unneeded overlap.

    This is okay if your goal with the Pixel is to make a good device regardless of the cost, but if your goal is to make money then something needs to be changing. The Pixel will not make Google much if any money at a $999 price point for the lowest sku, let alone higher prices for more storage.

    I am all for good build quality, but I actually want that technology to disperse into the market. If a perfect device only exists in a museum or if 85% of the 1st Chrome is used by Google Developers in house, or people who visited IO I call that a market failure. This technology needs to catch on in the general population, not just exist in theory but never actually really used.
  • wyvernknight - Wednesday, March 11, 2015 - link

    I think the point of the product is just to keep Chrome OS development and adoption going until it becomes a more viable alternative to Windows and Mac.
  • Michael Bay - Friday, March 13, 2015 - link

    Web OS will never be a viable alternative to full standalone OS.
    And trying to drive adoption with expensive products only works if you`re Apple.
  • calden - Monday, June 1, 2015 - link

    You actually have no idea what your talking about, read up on the impact ChromeBooks are now having on education. OS's like Chrome OS are the future, traditional desktops will be dead in under 10 years, it will all be be web based. If you don't see this than you better start reading. What do you think iOS is, it's basically Chrome OS, instead of downloading the programs UI every time you start an app, it's stored locally but the app still has to be connected to use it. Count how many apps on your tablet that you can use offline, your going to find that number a lot larger than you thought. Like it or not, this is the way things are heading.
  • daniel142005 - Wednesday, March 11, 2015 - link

    If $999 or $1299 is too much for you then the product probably wasn't targeted at you. Yeah, they build one hell of a laptop and Windows or anything would be better, but generally the developers that are able to afford one have money - they're software developers.
  • calden - Monday, June 1, 2015 - link

    They made the Pixel for developer's. Why did Apple make the new MacBook, as far as I'm concerned it's the most useless laptop I have ever seen but that didn't stop Apple creating it. This is a proof of concept, a snow case and are produced in limited numbers. No one is saying you have to buy one, I personally immensely enjoy mine but I know what's actually available online and the kind of web apps that are useful and their are a lot and growing. I'm a actually using Photoshop and soon Adobe will release their entire Creative Suite as a web app. Like it or this is the future of computing.
  • bleh0 - Wednesday, March 11, 2015 - link

    Sort of funny to see a Chromebook that actually better then a Macbook.

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