Chromebook Pixel First 24 Hours

Battery Life

I couldn't really assess the Pixel's battery life last night while writing since I was still working on the initial charge. But after a full day at the office I can say battery life is good. Not exceptional but good. After ~8 hours at the office I still had ~25% battery lie.

Keep in mind those ~8 hours don't represent non-stop work.

Use is Everything

Like any portable device how you use it has huge impact on the battery life. When I'm at my day job my Chromebook is a secondary device. I'm focused on my programming workstation. But I use the Chromebook throughout the day.

Typically I arrive at work, take out the Chromebook, login and leave it running all day on battery. With the Samsung Chromebook that works very well. The Samsung can sit all day this way and still have ~50% charge. The screen will shutoff after some timeout after a while it will go to sleep.

Quick to Sleep

Like the Samsung, the Pixel sleeps when it left unused for a while. I haven't timed it yet but I noticed several times when I would turn to look something up on the Pixel that it would wake-up when I tapped the keyboard.

What's amazing is how fast the Pixel is to wake up. On my MacBook Pro waking-up takes a couple of seconds. The Pixel is nearly instantaneous. Perhaps the MacBook Air and Pro Retina are as fast.

Future Improvements

I'm fine with the Pixel's battery life. The adapter is small and portable. There may be some chance of improvement in the future. We're effectively on v1 of Chrome OS for the Pixel. It's not unheard of to see battery-life improvements in the months after a new device ships. I wouldn't hold out hope for doubling the battery life but 10% - 20% maybe be reasonable.

Touchscreen

If the Pixel didn't include a touchscreen as standard equipment I doubt I would have upgraded to get it. I'm glad Google made it standard. Now that I have a touchscreen laptop I find myself reaching up to the screen for some actions.

Secondary Clicking

As usual I had the Pixel at my left hand at the office. I would sometimes pause to look something up or read an email. To start a session required the keyboard (both to unlock the screen and to type a query). Once the search results or email were on screen I found myself gravitating towards the touchscreen to click links, close tabs and even scroll. It was very natural.

Tablets and Phones as Models of Behavior

Many of us have been using touchscreens for years now. A smaller group have been using tablets and smartphones for the past couple of years. We're becoming habituated to scrolling pages and clicking links with our fingers. A touchscreen laptop is a natural extension of that behavior. If my iMac screen were touch enabled I'd have probably manipulated the interface by touch as well, at least a few times.

No Multi-touch

My only complaint about the Pixel's touchscreen is it doesn't have any multi-touch gestures, that I've found any way. There were a couple of times I tried to zoom in or out, all to no avail. I hope the Pixel's screen is multi-touch capable and we're just waiting for code to catch-up with hardware.

The Launcher

Though there aren't any multi-touch gestures, I did find you can hide or show the launcher by sliding up or down at the bottom of the screen.

  • To hide the launcher, put your finger on the launcher and slide down.
  • To show the launcher, put your finger a the bottom of the screen and slide up.

Of course after I found it on my own I found this page from Google showing all the actions you can take on the touchscreen.1

External Devices

The Pixel has several plugs for external devices: two USB ports, 1 DisplayPort and an sd-card slot. I plugged-in a few accessories I had around the house to which would work.

DisplayPort

I have a DisplayPort-to-VGA adapter for my MacBook Pro. I plugged it in to the Pixel and connected the other side to my 1600x1050 Dell monitor. The Pixel dutifully found it and extended the desktop. In the status menu on the Launcher Chrome shows a new menu item for configuring the secondary desktop. Clicking the menu item pops-up a window where you can turn on mirroring or make the external monitor the primary desktop.

With two monitors (one internal and the other external) the Pixel becomes a very nice desktop workstation.

Network Adapters

I have a very no-name USB network adapter. I tried it with my Samsung Chromebook a few weeks ago. It worked. The Pixel doesn't disappoint. It also works with the adapter. I plugged it in, the Pixel quickly found it, got a network address and disabled the wireless connection.

Sound

I've known for awhile my Samsung Chromebook could use a USB network adapter. Over the weekend I discovered it would work with my USB Harman/Kardon SoundSticks II.2 That was a sweet revelation.

Of course I had to try them with the Pixel. Again, they work. I'm streaming music from my Google Play music library as I write this and playing it over the SoundSticks. They sound good.

All at Once

While writing this I have all three devices plugged in and working: external monitor, network adapter and USB speakers.

Wishes

So far I don't have any major complaints. Battery life is still an open question. One thing I miss from my MacBook Pro is the wireless remote. I don't use it daily but when I'm listening to music I do. When coupled with the excellent iRed Lite it becomes a handy presentation tool. I'll have to find something to fill it's role.

Footnotes


  1. I could read the manual now and save time but it's more fun exploring.

  2. I've had these SoundSticks for ~10 years. I bought them for either an iMac DV or PowerBook. They still sound good. I'm glad my investment in the SoundSticks won't go to waste with the Chromebooks.