Google Chromebook Pixel Review

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Battery Life Testing

We can't put our finger on why, exactly, but we met the Pixel with very high battery life expectations. Perhaps it's because we assumed an operating system that was stripped down in the way that Chrome OS wouldn't tax the system as often nor as intently, but the battery life claims for this machine are fairly disappointing. While the Intel Atom-based Series 5 Chromebook from two years ago could easily reach 6-8 hours of use, the Core i5-based Pixel isn't even rated to last beyond 5.5. And, of course, it's capable of far less than that in real-world scenarios.

Due to dealing with an operating system that doesn't allow us to load our standard BatteryEater Pro, we weren't able to do an apples-to-apples comparison between the Chromebook Pixel and other machines in its price range. That said, we were able to compare it to the $449 Series 5 Chromebook.

With Wi-Fi active (which is going to be the case if you plan on making good use of a cloud-based operating system), we managed to get 4 hours and 12 minutes of use before the battery could no longer take any more abuse. That was with the screen brightness at roughly half, and off/on typing use through an average workday. With Wi-Fi off (using this solely as a document editor), the machine lasted 4 hours and 48 minutes with the screen at half-brightness. If using LTE instead of Wi-Fi, you can expect around 20-30 minutes less than these scores. (These scores are roughly half of what the Atom-based Series 5 notched.)

This is one area that really drags the value proposition down. A premium-priced Chromebook may have been easier to justify if it performed in an all-day fashion. But, contrary to that, the Pixel lasts around half as long as the latest MacBook Air -- a machine that's both less expensive and more capable given OS X behind under the hood. There's really no excuse for such paltry battery life. Chrome OS is a lightweight system that doesn't take a major toll on the battery, so it's unclear why the Pixel is exhausted after such a short time period. Either way, the battery life reality is apt to be a major drawback for those who were still considering one up until this point.

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