11 March 2015

Ars Technica: “Review: New Chromebook Pixel is still lovely hardware with limited appeal”

Google is using all of these in the Pixel. The laptop charges via USB Type C rather than a standard power adapter, and it uses Type C plus various dongles (yes, yet more dongles) to drive HDMI and DisplayPort displays. Unlike the recently announced Retina MacBook, Google has included one Type C port on either side of the laptop, which is kind of ingenious: you can plug in the power adapter or the display from either side. Normally, you need to twist your charger cable around to accommodate the location of the power connector. In the Pixel, you just plug it in on whatever side is the most convenient.

It’s a small change, but when I first saw it I had one of those forehead-slapping “of course” moments. The ability to plug either your power adapter or your monitor in from either side is a big help if your desk at home has a different layout from your desk at work, or if the surge protector on your side of the couch/bed is opposite the power plug on whatever laptop you’re currently using.

Andrew Cunningham

A pretty ingenious decision indeed. I am looking to replace my aging laptop sometime this year and, on every model, I also check where the power connector is located. Most of the time it’s on the wrong side for my home desk…

Chromebook Pixel round two

As for the comparison with the new MacBook, I can certainly understand the vision behind the choice of a single connector: everything is moving to the cloud and the majority of activities can easily be done via Wi-Fi. Nevertheless, I think this solution is less than optimal. Obviously, while charging people won’t be able to connect any other peripheral – wireless charging would be a better choice. The issue is greater specifically because the MacBook is lite and intended as a travel companion. So many things can go wrong: forgetting your dongles, spending money on new ones, losing time finding an Apple store, and, worst of all, no available Wi-Fi or poor signal strength!

What’s ironic here is that this cordless future is being introduced by , a hardware-first company with poor cloud services, and not by , who excels in cloud and data. Few people would have protested a Chromebook with a single connector, since many of the rare use cases are impossible on its limited OS anyway; and the ‘cloud-first’ angle would fit perfectly with the original Chromebook mission.

It will be interesting to see what Apple’s choice of the USB-C connector will mean for the rumored iPad Pro: will they replace the proprietary Lightning cable on the iPad too, enabling more advanced functions like file transfers and easier screen mirroring? That would probably require some serious changes to iOS as well, but would make the functionality of the new iPad comparable with a MacBook. (Alternatively, the iPad Pro will never launch, precisely because its feature set and screen size would overlap too heavily with this new MacBook).

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