Display

When the original Chromebook Pixel launched two years ago, its big selling point and the source of its name was its 239ppi 2560x1700 display. At that time, the only other laptops on the market with HiDPI displays were Apple's Retina MacBook Pros. Chromebooks have typically aimed for the low-cost segment of the laptop market, and so it was quite a surprise that one of the earliest HiDPI laptops was a Chromebook. Although the Pixel had the highest pixel density of any laptop display at the time, it fell somewhat short when it came to color reproduction due to its narrow color gamut and lack of calibration. With the new Chromebook Pixel, Google has advertised coverage of the sRGB color gamut, along with a maximum brightness of 400nits.

To see whether or not Google has hit their mark, we turn to our standard display testing workflow. As usual, all measurements are performed using SpectraCal's CalMAN 5 software along with X-Rite's i1Pro 2 spectrophotometer, with the exception of black level measurements which are performed with an i1Display Pro colorimeter.

Display Brightness - White Level

Display Brightness - Black Level

Display Contrast Ratio

CalMAN - White Point Average

Due to the evolution of our display workflow as time has gone on, I don't have results to compare the new Pixel to the original for certain categories. The result for maximum brightness is certainly in line with Google's advertised 400nit brightness, while the black levels and contrast ratio are what you would expect of IPS panels. The white point is noticeably more blue than the ideal D6504 target, which contrasts with the original Pixel which was very slightly too red. The blue/green tint in white and shades of grey is also more obvious than most other devices with similar average white points, which I elaborate on further below.

CalMAN - Grayscale Average dE 2000

CalMAN - Gretag Macbeth Average dE 2000

CalMAN - Saturations Average dE 2000

CalMAN - Gamut Average dE 2000

The new Pixel improves significantly upon the original in the gamut and saturation tests. It has a much wider gamut than the original, although it misses in magenta and yellow. Saturation improvements follow the improved gamut, as colors of 80% and 100% saturation no longer look identical. Despite these improvements, there hasn't been much progress on greyscale and color mixture accuracy. As noted earlier, the Pixel has a fairly obvious green/blue tint to the lighter shades of grey and white. As you can see in the gallery below, this is due to the reduction in red and increase in blue components of luminance as the shades of grey move from black to white.

I don't expect that many Chromebook users will be doing heavy photo and video editing that requires a perfectly calibrated display. Many $999 laptops ship with displays that are much worse than the one on the new Pixel, and I think that most users will be very happy with the Pixel's display. It's just a shame that Google doesn't seem to have put the same amount of care into display calibration with the Pixel as they have with the Nexus 9 and other Google branded devices, despite it having the highest price point of the devices they sell.

Introduction CPU and WiFi Performance
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  • Brandon Chester - Monday, March 16, 2015 - link

    The issues with benchmarking it against other laptops are explained on the CPU performance page. Reply
  • MantasPakenas - Monday, March 16, 2015 - link

    What I meant is that I don't see how those are issues. The issue that there are very few benchmarks you can run on a Chromebook? Yeah, sure. But where is the issue of including data points you already have for other laptops for these same benchmarks? E.g. here:

    http://www.anandtech.com/bench/Notebook/729

    You also have charging times of normal laptops, as well as browsing and video playback battery life. Why not include those? I really don't see how comparing this to an iPad makes any more sense.
    Reply
  • JarredWalton - Monday, March 16, 2015 - link

    The "Light" and "Heavy" laptop tests are completely different than what we run on Chomebooks. The Light test uses IE10/11, cycling through a set of four open tabs. We could probably do this on a Chromebook, though we would need to modify it to make it work comparably (as the Windows Light test actually runs from a batch file).

    The Heavy test is a different matter. We're playing a 1080p video fullscreen, surfing the web with four pages loading every ~7 seconds, and downloading over FTP at 8Mbps. Without a good FTP client, this is pretty much impossible to do on a Chromebook. Plus on every other Chromebook other than the Pixel (and maybe the Core i3 Acer models) you won't be able to do all of these tasks without the video stuttering.

    Bottom line is that most Chromebooks have hardware and pricing that's similar to tablets, so we use the tablet benchmarks for comparison.
    Reply
  • MantasPakenas - Tuesday, March 17, 2015 - link

    If I understand correctly, you're saying that it would be possible to benchmark the Pixel against it's real competition, but since most of the Chromebooks are underpowered, you are putting this monster up against much weaker devices. This still doesn't make sense to me. HP Stream 11 costs, performs and competes against Chromebooks, yet you measure it mostly against high end laptops (although C720 is included in some applicable benchmarks, and even an iPad Air in charging times). I question that approach as much as this case.

    Just as much as it makes sense to benchmark SSDs against other SSDs, low end phones against other low end phones, high end ones against iPhone 6 and tablets, it makes sense to benchmark the Pixel against high end laptops, because it deserves that treatment. Nobody is any wiser to know it can beat all tablets and budget chromebooks.

    And I bet it wouldn't stutter playing a video, downloading and surfing the web at the same time. Yet I'm doing all those things concurrently on my HP Chromebook 14, and you bet I would do it on the Pixel!
    Reply
  • jabber - Wednesday, March 18, 2015 - link

    Indeed, I've seen plenty people pay $1200+ for a Macbook/Mac just to look at Facebook/Amazon because they didn't want to deal with Windows anymore. Reply
  • mekpro - Monday, March 16, 2015 - link

    Nice review and really fast !

    I wish there are more extensive tests for USB Type-C, as this is the very first laptop to ship with it. I wonder what is the maximum resolution and how many external display supported ? Is the limitation come from the USB Type-C or Broadwell or the ChromeOS itself ?
    Reply
  • Dumbledore147 - Monday, March 16, 2015 - link

    Me too. I would love to see a setup with two 4k monitors running at 60 Hz while charging the chromebook. Reply
  • psychobriggsy - Monday, March 16, 2015 - link

    The device, like the new MacBook, supports USB 3.1 Rev 1, otherwise known as USB 3.0 (i.e., 5 Gbps) on a USB Type C port (which adds charging, displayport, USB 2.0).

    We'll have to wait until Broadwell supports USB 3.1 Rev 2 for 10 Gbps data transfers.
    Reply
  • tyger11 - Monday, March 16, 2015 - link

    Type-C is a connector. The underlying port itself is a standard 5gbps USB 3.0 port. It's unfortunate they didn't go with USB 3.1, but neither did the new Apple MacBook Retina (even though they're calling it 'USB 3.1 Gen 1'. Ugh. Reply
  • JBVertexx - Monday, March 16, 2015 - link

    This is a very targeted strike directly at the MacBook pro. The current market is very small, as many have commented on. I think an equally likely user is an account executive for companies that use the Google ecosystem.

    My company (a pre-IPO enterprise software company) uses the entire Google ecosystem. So, when I am traveling, I use either Gmail, Google docs, or some other web-based application for nearly 100% of my use. The percentage of time that I need to actually use MS Office is getting smaller and smaller.

    When you compare this against the new 13-inch MacBook pro, the specs compare very favorably. The Pixel has a stronger processor (the 13" MacBook pro only ships with an i5), but the Pixel has much less storage space, clearly catering to cloud users (100% of what I store is in the cloud).

    Google may be giving these away to developers, but I don't think that is the target audience for this. There is a small sliver of working professionals who will buy this over a MacBook pro. Google is using that niche market to improve the product, improve Chrome OS, and will over the next couple years be well positioned to be a serious competitor.
    Reply

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