The oldest, longest-lasting piece of technology in my household is headed for the scrapheap. Well that’s not true, I’m not sure what I’ll do with it yet, but its life as a Chromebook is likely over.
The laptop I’m talking about is Google’s Chromebook Pixel 2015, which received its last OS and security update a few weeks ago. I had briefly forgotten about this since my story in 2020 about the end of Chromebook software support, but a notification popped up to remind me that this is the “last update”, with advice to buy a new Chromebook.
I previously wrote about how well the Chromebook Pixel had served me over the years as my most reliable laptop. A large part of that is to do with how uncomplicated Chromebooks are. Their unique anti-malware abilities that make these the ideal, stress-free laptops for casual users. There are still issues, if you have been caught short without an internet connection and you haven’t set your Chromebook up to operate without access to web, it can easily be rendered useless.
But something odd has happened in recent years with my Chromebook Pixel 2015 and other ChromeOS devices, they have dramatically improved in functionality. My Google laptop can do things now it couldn’t do six years ago. It is an objectively better laptop several years into its life cycle.
I can now play Xbox Game Pass games on my Chromebook. The gaming experience started with Nvidia’s GeForce NOW and then Google Stadia, but Game Pass works via the Android app, which doesn’t appear to have any compatibility issues. The app itself is slow, which I suspect is something to do with it being an Android-optimised app. But actual game streaming, the most important bit, works perfectly well.
Opening up the app and seeing the “day one releases” section is exciting. Exclusive titles like Forza, Redfall and Starfield will be playable on cheap, seven year old, hardware. I would’ve been content with decent SNES emulators, so AAA games is a very welcome, unexpected bonus. Elsewhere, Windows is available via Parallels desktop and you can make…