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back to article Review: Livin' in the cloud with Google's new Chromebook Pixel

It has been well over two years years since Google released its first Chromebook, the CR-48, and set off on a quest to convince the world of the benefits of living in the browser. Last week, the company unveiled its latest attempt to seduce the public – the luxury touchscreen Chromebook Pixel – and gave The Reg a $1,449 LTE- …

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http://successfulworkplace.com/2013/02/27/google-says-welcome-to-cloud-city/

Google knows what it's doing, building a cloud based future one Pixel at a time.

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Anonymous Coward

Shame about the OS.

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FAIL

Rubbish

It's handicapped in that it seems to still lack a lot of software like developer tools and no matter what google says it will be gimped without the net so it's an overpriced POS, imo.

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Stop

Re: Rubbish

Essentially all show and no go? If I could hackintosh it, I'd be all over it.

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Questions

1. How difficult is a linux install? Can you access the bootloader/bios-thing?

2. Is there any internal access? Can we even think about an SSD upgrade?

3. Is the displayport bidirectional? can it be used as a display on other products?

4. Is the SD socket full depth, or does the card stick out?

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Linux

Re: Questions

Read Bill Richardson on Google+: plenty of info there

1. You put it in developer mode and can then boot stock Linux distros - Ubuntu and Mint have been mentioned as working just fine. There's a 30 second delay each boot while it advertises it's in developer mode, but sounds like it wasn't too complex to set up.

2. SSD is a single SanDisk chip soldered to the board (looks like a BGA). The LTE slot is USB2 only, so no mSATA in that. There's no other orifices in which to put an SSD. Board pic:

https://a77db9aa-a-7b23c8ea-s-sites.googlegroups.com/a/chromium.org/dev/chromium-os/developer-information-for-chrome-os-devices/chromebook-pixel/link-bottom-guts.jpg

3. Pass

4. Looks like the SD socket is full depth

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Re: Questions

Chromebook Pixel developer info:

http://www.chromium.org/chromium-os/developer-information-for-chrome-os-devices/chromebook-pixel

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Questions

So only options to extend storage are a tiny (and slow) 16GB or perhaps 32 USB stick (like http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/Verbatim-32GB-USB-2-0-Tiny-Nano-USB-Pen-Drive-Flash-Memory-Stick-NEW-SEALED-STOK-/251219157282#vi-content) which would leave you with just one USB slot, and/or an up to 64 GB SD card, just as slow.

I'd be very tempted to install Mint on it and wouldn't mind it only having USB 2.0 and 5h runtime but the 32 (or max 64) GB SSD just doesn't do it for me, especially not at that price. Shame, the 3:2 "retina" screen is a dream come true, with or without touch.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Questions

Given the price of 256G ssds it seems silly. Google seems determined to repeat the IBM mistake of releasing crippled hardware that lost them so much of the PC market. The Nexus 4 is another example. Trying to force users to do things your way always seems to me a bit of a short term strategy.

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Re: Questions

"and/or an up to 64 GB SD card, just as slow."

Actually, check out he Sandisk Extreme Pro series. They're already faster than most desktop hard drives and make a fine add-on. Also available in micro, but only up to 16GB. No doubt other manufacturers will catch up sooner or later and capacities will continue to grow.

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Re: Questions

Yes they could put in a 256Gb SSD so you never needed to be online. They could also have licensed IE and Outlook for it so you don't need to use Google..

This is nothing to do with the computer, this is making sure you are as dependent on Google in 2015 as you were on Microsoft in 1995.

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Re: Questions

You can also run stock linux AT THE SAME TIME as Chrome0os using Crouton (http://craigerrington.com/blog/arm-chromebook-chromeos-and-xfceubuntu-at-the-same-time/) just ctrl-alt-right/left to switch between them.

I'm writing this on a $200 Samsung chromebook running chrome and ubuntu live simultaneously on the built in SSD

ps. You only have the 30sec delay the first time, or you can skip it by ctrl-D

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Re: Questions (@David Hicks)

Surely it depends how that SD card slot is wired up internally? It's normal for them to reside on the USB bus (just like the keyboard and trackpad, usually) so if a system is USB 2.0 only then the SD card slot is likely limited to that bandwidth.

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Linux

Re: Questions (@ThomH)

You are correct that it does depend how the SD slot is wired up. For instance ARM SoCs tend to have a dedicated SDIO bus that the slot is attached to, so it doesn't go via USB at all. My cheap-ass Exynos based Chromebook is wired up this way. (It also has USB 3 but I didn't want USB sticks jutting out the side)

I have no idea about the internal wiring of the new chromebook-pixel and what speed is available on the SD bus. To me it's far to expensive for a browser driven device anyway....

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Pint

Re: Questions (@Robert E A Harvey)

4) If you're referring to the Samsung/Google ARM chromebook and it's annoying sticky-out SD slot, and you're looking for a solution that doesn't stick out, may I recommend something like this - http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/New-3-1-USB-Multi-functional-Adapter-Card-Micro-SD-Card-SDHC-USB-UK-/181076395412

(No, I'm not the seller)

You can cut the USB end off (it still works) and you end up with a half-length SD adaptor you can stick any old micro-sd into.

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So let me get this straight

For the same price as a MacBook Air you get something that Apple fans will laugh at because, despite having no onboard storage, it's too heavy (among several other things) and non-Apple fans will laugh at because it locks you into an even more restrictive eco-system than Apple's.

I wonder if Google are doing this just to get a small but valuable list of morons who'll buy absolutely anything then target them with super-premium advertising.

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Re: So let me get this straight

If only someone could buy one... Then we could finally unite the Apple fanboys, and the apple haters against him.

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Re: So let me get this straight

"...it locks you into an even more restrictive eco-system than Apple's."

You are right about the comparison, I agree completely. However, using the word "eco-system" to describe a non-living entity as a whole makes many people cringe. The term you are looking for to describe a virtual archetype such as this is "paradigm". By the way, both words are hyphenless.

But yes, you are correct, Google does seem to be playing Apple's game. However, a very important difference is you can run Linux on it with apparently no fuss, and this is a growing importance. But am I going to buy it and run Debian on it when I can't justify the display, no way.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: So let me get this straight

"But yes, you are correct, Google does seem to be playing Apple's game."

Certainly iOS has some degree of lock-in since you are only able to officially download/run apps that are approved by Apple. But OS X? Not one ounce of lock-in.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: So let me get this straight

Of course it has no onboard storage to speak of - Google would not make any money if it did. Let me get back to this in a minute.

First a minor gripe: OSX on SSD cold boots in a good 10..15 sec (15 sec on a regular MacBook with a Seagate Momentus XT refit), and that is a complex and useful OS in comparison to Chrome, so I can't see how the author can state Mac users would be jealous. Come to think of it, I've seen Windows 7 machines with SSD come online in that speed as well.

Now, Google making money. This is a supplier who has publicly stated that there is no such thing as privacy and we should get over ourselves (worth noting that the speaker in question seemed to consider himself excluded). This is a company which has been repeatedly in the dock for being far too creative and enthusiastic collecting information it has no business collecting, and it is again back in said dock both at home and in Europe for doing more of the same. Stepping back from the company itself, it is also based in a nation which is well known for information acquisition by whatever means possible, whereas especially companies have a duty to prevent disclosure of information other than when compelled by law in whatever format.

Ergo, you are paying the equivalent of a decently specced Apple or Windows compatible laptop for something that:

  • is of (at best) limited utility because of its online focus
  • has no storage to speak of, and lacks any option or even supplier desire to change that
  • is by default exposing a normal company with clients to the vagaries of EU Data Protection law or, for instance, to US HIPAA
  • is 100% dependent on one single vendor for apps (in a world where people are complaining about Apple's restrictions that is actually funny)
  • will stop working the moment Google decides it no longer wants to operate the service (because, for instance, they are told by a court not to). Hmm, a very expensive Zune...

If you are seriously considering buying this machine you may want to investigate that twitch. It may be possible to overdose on koolaid after all.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: So let me get this straight

It is not a non living entity. Android/chrome/iOS have producers and consumers that are definitely living, and money and goods exchange hands in an (artificially ) restricted environment. That is an ecosystem, from the Greek. oikia a household or farmstead, from which also comes economics, laws of the household. Ecosystem is surely a better word than paradigm, which just means a pattern or model and misses the dynamic aspects of the growth and decline of individual actors in an ecosystem.

This is what comes of wasting time at U learning Greek when I could have been learning Algol.

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Facepalm

Re: So let me get this straight

A Chromebook gives you access to the WHOLE FRIKKIN INTERNET. That's not a "restrictive ecosystem".

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Anonymous Coward

Re: So let me get this straight

Bigger than an Air? Needs an internet connection to function? Costs more than the cheapest Apple Laptop?

So who exactly is this aimed at?

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Anonymous Coward

Run Linux with no fuss?

But I already run Linux on my Macbook Air with no fuss. What's your point?

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Re: So let me get this straight

You can install Linux on a MacBook too with no problems. That's not really an added benefit to the pixel.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: So let me get this straight

"access to the WHOLE FRIKKIN INTERNET"

My phone does that too, so what does that prove.

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Pint

Re: So let me get this straight

"But OS X? Not one ounce of lock-in."

You seen 10.8? The default setting is only install/allow to run Apple approved app-store software. Piece of cake to switch it back to full-open, run what-you-like-mode and yes I know it's not full vendor lock-in as we understand it, but the seeds have sown...

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Re: So let me get this straight

You seen 10.8? The default setting is only install/allow to run Apple approved app-store software. Piece of cake to switch it back to full-open, run what-you-like-mode and yes I know it's not full vendor lock-in as we understand it, but the seeds have sown...

The default setting is not to allow running of code from untrusted sources. This isn't lock-in, it's plain common sense.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: So let me get this straight

Seriously who cares where the word comes from, the important part is it's common usage. Being that 'ecosystem' has previously been almost exclusively used to describe a biological based evolving systems one can only question why corporations have decided to co-opt the word for themselves ... it doesn't take a genius to realise that they're doing it to get one over on the consumer. 'Ecosystem' sounds fluffy and healthy while 'Closed shop' sounds pretty shitty and limited and prone to foreclosure. Paradigm not only has negative connotations but sounds far too intelligent and off putting for the average consumer..

If we really want to talk about computing in terms of ecosystems, you'd really have to include the sum totality of all computing as all the parts parasite, kill, inform and evolve off of each other.

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Facepalm

Re: So let me get this straight

The way some people put it, you'd think a chromebook only allowed access to google websites. El Reg commentards love to hate google, but I prefer they hate within the bounds of reality.

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Facepalm

Re: So let me get this straight

> I wonder if Google are doing this just to get a small but valuable list of morons who'll buy absolutely anything then target them with super-premium advertising.

What's to wonder?

Me, I'll keep buying cheap laptops on sale that give me far, far more flexibility and utility.

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Thumb Up

Re: So let me get this straight

@ribosome

Correct, but don't forget the common denominator in "eco" anything...habitat. You used the word "artificially", which is correct to use, so here is my question: What part of computing is natural to your habitat, which thus makes this ecosystem? Of course, maybe you have taken "Green Computing" to a whole new level :-)

I upvoted you for spinning your choice of education into this, I hope that is some reimbursement :-)

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Anonymous Coward

Re: you'd think a chromebook only allowed access to google websites

try finding a popular site on the web that doesn't host scripts from Google. They are silently co-opting the entire internet into their script delivery network and when they finally decide to monetise we're fucked.

That's not from outside the bounds of reality.

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Re: you'd think a chromebook only allowed access to google websites

In terms of what you can do on a chromebook, the number of sites using Google scripts and services is irrelevant.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: the number of sites using Google scripts and services is irrelevant.

Why? Your original post was "you'd think they only allowed connection to google sites", my riposte was "technically most of the web IS google sites", you respond "irrelevant". Not a convincing argument. Sounds to me like this Chromebook, using code live from GoogleHQ, could easily interact with any site hosting scripts from GA or GoogleAPIs. That is a massive security issue to anyone who realises "do no evil" is BS.

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Hmmm

Not for me. I don't live in a WiFi (or for that matter decent 3G) area, apart from my own at home and at home I have a plethora of devices. Looks like I'll be sticking to my trusty laptop whilst out and about.

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It'll run Office365. Most people (at least here in the UK, and on 3's superfast, uncapped 3G and soon to be 4G network) can tether it. That's the offline part taken care of. Yeah, it's a shame there's no USB 3. It's a big plus that the OS will undoubtedly be massively updated soon, and for free.

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Until your phone dies from all that teathering draining the battery.

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Office365

But not well. At least this Samsung Chromebook doesn't.

You can view and edit-ish documents using chrome but you don't get all the features of using IE, outlook is barely useable and you don't have lync..

If you are getting this for work, try accessing you sharepoint/office365 stuff from chrome on Windows first to see if it's good enough.

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I call BS on the "it's too sleek for USB 3.0" thing. The entry level Samsung Chromebook has a 3.0 port.

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Anonymous Coward

USB 3.0

Yes, it's BS. My Macbook Air has USB 3.0. It also boots in less than 10 seconds, and is instantly on when I open the cover from standby.

Looks good, but basically pointless.

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MrT
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I suspect...

... that not having USB 3 is a deliberate move to knobble the max speed of local storage, and pushes people towards using the cloud - free for 3yrs but then for sale once the user is hooked into it.

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Can it mount NAS

Can a personal NAS be used with this?

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"I call BS on the "it's too sleek for USB 3.0" thing. The entry level Samsung Chromebook has a 3.0 port."

Of course it's BS. Google has no interest whatsoever to facilitate decent local storage. It's against the very concept of this "laptop".

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Re: I suspect...

NAS can be used and USB2.0 is faster than an internet connection I call BS on conspiracy theories.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: USB 3.0

But it's a mac, so has even less software available.

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Anonymous Coward

I can see most normal people being drawn in by the hype, buying it only to take it back because it isn't Windows.

Countless people returned Linux netbooks.

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FAIL

So many issues I hardly know where to start...

1. Most obvious question – even if you're a big Chrome fan, why not buy a MacBook Air and access your favorite Google apps and services from it without giving up the benefits of local capabilities?

2. "a Verizon connection that includes 100MB a month free downloads" 100MB would last me about an hour. No point in promoting this as worth anything. Face it – the LTE capability is pointless in North America until we outgrow the capped data models.

3. Google Drive is a terrible service. Dropbox and Skydrive are both far superior (and less buggy) implementations. You don't want to depend on a device that depends on Google Drive, that's for sure.

4. USB 2.0? Seriously? Nuff said.

The Google Nexus team is crushing it. Please keep the Chrome team away from them!!

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Re: So many issues I hardly know where to start...

The question I want to know is the one I keep asking about clouds. So, you've given me 1TB of cloud data instead of local storage. How do you propose I get my data into this cloud, on my (fast for UK) 2Mbit domestic upload bandwidth? I make that to be 46 days nonstop at full throttle - not accounting that I'm probably limited to a few tens of GB per month.

And I couldn't even make 3G behave itself in *central London* today - uploading my files at tens of KB/s - don't make me laugh.

It would make a nice Linux machine, except for the braindead lack of storage.

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Devil

Re: So many issues I hardly know where to start...

With LTE in Detroit I regularly get 15 Mbps down and 4-6 Mpbs up. I've hit over 30 Mbps down and 18 Mbps up (rare but it happens). Luckily I'm on a legacy plan and have true unlimited data for $40/month. Having an Android phone I've installed a Wifi app and see those same speeds on my tethered Nexus 7. Also free Wifi is ubiquitous in the US. So this does sound like a product targeted to the US market. Yes out in the hinterland LTE is sparse but you'd be surprised how many places offer free Wifi. Just stop at a McDonalds and get a cup of joe for 2 bucks and free Wifi.

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