Chromebook Pixel 2 review: Google laptop handsome but flawed

New Chromebook has great battery life and build quality, but the Pixel 2 is let down by its operating system

Chromebook Pixel 2
(Image credit: Google)

Google has confounded reviewers by offering a high-end laptop range to a line that was traditionally cheap and cheerful.

When conceived, Chromebooks were fast, affordable computers that ran quickly because they were light on software. The original Chromebook Pixel broke from that mould, however, to offer a comparatively high-end laptop with a price tag to match.

The Chromebook Pixel 2 brings that price tag down a tad, but many reviewers are still unwilling to recommend the computer, due to the continuing shortcomings of the operating system that powers the device.

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What does the Chromebook Pixel 2 offer?

Traditionally, Chromebooks have made very good second computers, says The Verge's Dieter Bohn, but when Google introduced the first Pixel Chromebook, the company suggested that it "doesn’t need to be your second laptop; it can be your only laptop". However, this has never quite been the case due to the limitations of Google's Chrome operating system (OS), Bohn adds. "In reality, virtually everybody is going to run into spots where they need something that Chrome OS can’t quite offer."


The Pixel 2 is fairly similar to its predecessor, Ars Technica's Andrew Cunningham says. Its size and weight are nearly identical and it maintains the "same boxy corners and edges" of the last Pixel. "It's a handsome machine, but where most Ultrabooks are all about curves and tapered edges, this one is squared-off and conservative," Cunningham adds.

The laptop's build quality "remains first-rate" with a good keyboard and a responsive trackpad.


The Pixel 2 has a 12.85-inch, 2560×1700 display, which retains its "oddball" 3:2 aspect ratio, says Cunningham. But the image "stands up to the best that Apple has to offer". The touchscreen works well, but many reviewers criticise the fact that Chrome OS isn't well-optimised for touch.


One of the biggest changes to the new Pixel is the work that has been done on extending its battery life. The new fifth-generation Core i5 “Broadwell-U" chip that powers the machine extends the Pixel’s battery life from "a woeful five hours to a whopping 12", says PC World's Mark Hachman.

USB port

Google has included two USB-C connectors on the Pixel 2. By comparison, the new Apple MacBook offers only one. The new USB ports are multipurpose, operating both as a dock for a power cable and also a connection point for external devices like hard drives. To maximise its connectivity, the laptop is also fitted with two legacy USB-A ports as well as an SD card slot.


Google's original Chromebook Pixel sold in the UK for £999 but the new Chromebook will cost just £799 for the base model. A higher-spec model will also be available for £999.


The Chromebook Pixel 2 has a high-resolution touchscreen, good build quality, a solid battery life and both regular and Type-C USB ports, reviewers say. But it is let down by the limitations of its operating system.

"Between the design, display, keyboard and battery life, it's among the finest notebooks I've had the pleasure of using," says Engadget's Dana Wollman, "(but) I wouldn't buy one".

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