Pixel. Retina. What do they have in common? The sharpest screens on a laptop.
Apple’s 13-inch MacBook Pro features the Retina Display, a screen with pixels so small they can’t be seen by the unaided eye at the distance you’d normally use it from. Not to be outdone, Google’s directly challenging it with the new Chromebook Pixel, which has a screen that’s not only a tiny bit sharper (and smaller) it also works as an iPad-style touchscreen.
So if you’re a Chromebook fan who was wowed by the Pixel, but is wondering whether it wouldn’t be worth it to spend a couple hundred dollars more to get something nicer ($1,499 for the MacBook versus $1,299 for the Chromebook), here’s the answer to your question … or maybe I should say, the confirmation of your suspicion.
The 13-Inch MacBook Pro: Better Hardware, More Apps
The MacBook Pro model which comes standard with a Retina Display also has twice the memory, a much faster processor, a couple more hours of battery life (seven compared to five), and an enormous 750 GB hard drive. Those 5400 RPM hard disks are slow to load apps and things, but for an extra $100 you can get one with a 128 GB solid-state drive like on the lightning-quick MacBook Air laptops.
What about those apps? Well, the Mac App Store has thousands of games and apps, and there are plenty of big-name third-party developers for Mac outside of it besides. Microsoft Office? Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop? How about games on Steam? It doesn’t have as many as a Windows PC does, but it’s got a lot.
The Chromebook Pixel: Always-On Internet
The Chromebook’s best feature is the one you have to pay extra for. For another $150 on top of its $1,299 price tag, you get two years of Verizon LTE wireless Internet. You only get 100 MB per month, but you can upgrade later for an extra fee.
Either Chromebook model also comes with 1 TB of storage on Google Drive, which is a little more space than the MacBook Pro’s hard drive gives you and you can get to it from any device. On the downside, most residential Internet connections have really slow upload speeds, so prepare to spend a week or more backing up your current computer to the cloud if you have lots of music or videos.
What about the apps? The Chrome Web Store is surprisingly full-featured; most of the “apps” are just links to websites, but there are some that you’d be surprised can run in a browser window. Outside it, there are also basic, online versions of many apps you’re used to, like Microsoft Office and Photoshop. They lack features, though, and many either have ads or require a subscription fee.
All the apps a Chromebook can run, a MacBook Pro can run by installing the Chrome web browser. So the question is, how much time do you spend in that browser window? Enough to justify losing the ability to run anything else, at least without installing Ubuntu or something? (Not that that’s a bad idea, mind you.)
It’s your call.