It was about a year ago that I received my Retina Macbook Pro 13” for my dayjob. I instantly fell in love with its HiDPI-display and I’ve always hated the smudgyness of current LoDPI-displays. Roughly around the time my Macbook shipped, a video was leaked. This video showed a prototypy laptop that was supposedly built by Google as a prime example of how to build a modern laptop that is supposed to run their Linux-based Chrome OS. This device was rumoured to even outnumber the massive pixel-count of the new Macbook Pro’s Retina-display - which was already quite impressive. It didn’t stop there. Google also managed to pack a touchscreen into this device.
Coming from a history of being interested in data security, the hacker subculture, free software and a healthy preference of privacy, a system like Chrome OS doesn’t seem very thrilling. However, after using Linux on the desktop for the better part of rougly 4 years I’ve grown quite dissappointed in the weak state of the Linux desktop - especially when compared to a mostly perfect desktop-OS like Mac OS X. I’ve also adopted a few habits that might be considered to border on taking part in the concept of Post Privacy. I am also quite curious as to how Google envisions their version of the future of desktop computing.
I stumbled upon someone offering a Chromebook Pixel on Ebay and I was curious enough to just start bidding. I stopped smoking almost two years ago so I was motivated enough to spend a few hundred bucks on a great piece of hardware that I’m going to dual-boot with Chrome OS and a Linux distribution that I haven’t yet decided on. I don’t even expect to actually get any work done on Chrome OS.
(And I’m not going to put any private keys on it that I use to connect to hosts of my employer.)
Thanks to my friend @fibre2342 I didn’t have to put too much trust into the person selling me the Pixel, because he was scheduled to drive to Frankfurt anyways, so we just took a roadtrip the guy selling me the device via a short trip to the Equinix-datacenter in Frankfurt. It had two slightly annoying scratches on it, but the previous owner already replaced the US-only LTE-modem with a compatible one that works with european carriers and also supports UMTS, so I decided to take it anyways, despite the small scratches. (Of which I’ll provide pictures tomorrow.) I’ve only gotten to play with it for a few hours so far, but I am quite fond of the hardware already. Its body feels sturdy and solid, the display is just gorgeous, the keyboard is among the best I’ve had the opportunity to type on and I still need to find a way to get that fan to make any perceptible noise. The preinstalled browser leaves nothing to be desired and I have never seen a browser this snappy. And finally a Linux-box comes with decent font rendering out of the box. It’s readability rivals that of Mac OS X.
I still don’t think that the touchscreen will be of much use to me in the long run, but it’s an option that I’m not being forced to use, while still being able to, when it seems useful. The problem of smudgy fingerprints on reflective displays remains unsolved as of yet, which makes it a tough sell to use it. But I’ll keep an eye on that. I already played Angry Birds on it though it works as expected.
Expect a lot more about my take on this device in the near future. (This text was mostly written in Chrome OS, which worked surprisingly well, after I updated it via the Beta-channel and installed a neat text editor, interchanged the functions of the CTRL/ALT-keys to better fit into my Mac-habits, and put the shelf (which is was the combined Dock/menubar is called) to the left of the screen.)