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ASUS A42-K56 Battery

The Nexus 5X is at the vanguard of a new wave of handsets. First established by Google with the hugely popular Nexus 5, and followed by phones such as the OnePlus One and more recent OnePlus 2, this new breed sits neatly between the low-cost Moto Gs and the flagship iPhones of this world in an attempt to offer the best of both – a smartphone that aims to have everything you need, but none of what you don’t. That, in short, is precisely what the Google Nexus 5X delivers, and it represents a welcome return to form for Google, after the Motorola-manufactured Nexus 6 last year. That was a phone that, while far from a disaster, failed to recapture the success of its predecessor, mainly because it was too big, too flashy and too unwieldy to appeal to fans of the stripped-back, basic Nexus 5. The £339 inc VAT 16GB Nexus 5X (manufactured by LG) goes back to basics, and fans of the Nexus everywhere will rejoice at the new no-nonsense approach.

Given the price, it shouldn’t surprise you to discover that the Nexus 5X is no supermodel. Available in black, white and light blue, it has a smooth, eggshell finish to its coloured plastic back. Although this feels pleasant in the hand, it makes an ugly contrast with the phone’s all-black frontage. In terms of its shape, the 5X moves away from the Nexus 6’s extensively curved rear and chiselled edges, instead preferring a flat rear panel with only short radius curves at the sides. It’s a more practical design than the Nexus 6 – you can place the phone on a table and tap away without it wobbling annoyingly – but it’s far less pretty. The autofocus sensor and flash are above the camera, while the LG and Nexus logos alongside each other look as if they’ve been thrown on randomly rather than thoughtfully placed.

More seriously, perhaps, the cheap feel also extends to the mechanical aspects of the design. The power and volume rocker on the right edge feel plasticky and insubstantial. The nano-SIM drawer doesn’t close with a positive click. Tap the rear panel and the whole thing feels somewhat hollow. Overall, it’s a far cry from the Motorola-built Nexus 6. The only advantages that the Nexus 5X holds from a physical point of view is that, for a phone of its size, it's astonishingly light, weighing a mere 136g, and is very comfortable to hold and slide into a pocket. The front is less of a design disaster, mainly because - as with most smartphones - it’s reasonably featureless. Importantly, the speaker is on the front, a design choice I thoroughly approve of. I’m sick and tired of having to be careful how I hold a phone like the Apple iPhone 6s for fear of blocking the grille and muting the audio. However, although it looks like there are two speakers here - one above and one below the display - only the one at the bottom actually works, and sound quality isn't great.

When is a Chromebook not a Chromebook? When it’s a Chromebook Pixel, of course. This is not, I admit, my finest attempt at humour, but it serves to illustrate a point: the latest Chromebook Pixel (which we're calling Chromebook Pixel 2, even though Google just gives it the old, numberless name) might technically be a Chromebook, but it’s a world apart from the rest of the field. Like the original, the new Pixel is unashamedly luxurious – in terms of the way it looks, and the stares it draws when you pull it out in a meeting, the machine has more in common with hardware like the Apple MacBook, the 2015 Dell XPS 13 and the Microsoft Surface Pro 3.

It sports a powerful Intel Broadwell CPU, has a top-quality screen – and it costs as much as an Ultrabook, too. It’s altogether a different type of device than the average, cheap plasticky Chromebook.Yet there’s substance behind that pretty face. Although not the lightest of ultraportables, at 1.5kg, the Pixel feels as solid as any laptop I’ve come across, and its abruptly chopped-off edges and stark, industrial design is littered with thoughtful touches.The speakers are sited beneath the keyboard to preserve the Pixel’s sleek lines. The sturdy “piano hinge” also has hidden talents, acting both as a heatsink and a Wi-Fi antenna. The multicoloured, segmented LED on the lid glows all the colours of the Google logo when the Pixel 2 is on, and doubles as a battery gauge when the lid is closed. Just tap the lid twice and it will show you how much capacity you have remaining.

And the keyboard backlight glows only when you rest your fingers on it; when you lift your hands off, its gentle glow fades away. Careful thought has even been put into the way the ports have been arranged around the edges, with the Pixel’s two USB Type-C ports split so that one falls on each side. This means you can choose which side to plug in the charger, with the other being left for video connections. (If you want to plug the Pixel 2 into an external monitor, bear in mind you’ll need an adapter.)In fact, alongside the MacBook, this is the only laptop currently available to sport the new USB Type-C interface; unlike the MacBook, though, it complements those ports with a pair of USB 3 ports and an SD slot, so you can transfer files and plug in peripherals should you want to.

The Pixel is alluring, but the most arresting feature has always been the screen, and that doesn’t change one jot this time around. It still feels immensely satisfying to use, offering a spacious, uncramped view thanks to its 3:2 display ratio, and the resolution is a razor-sharp 2,560 x 1,700. It’s also a touchscreen, allowing you to prod, poke and swipe your way through Chrome OS.There’s precious little to criticise. Viewing angles are perfect, colour accuracy is decent, and it’s extremely bright and punchy – it’s just a touch more impressive than the original Pixel.It responds to touch input perfectly, with everything from light dabs and gentle swipes to pinch-zoom gestures working beautifully. As with every other aspect of the Pixel 2, it’s a display that ranks alongside the best on any laptop.

Whether you really need the touchscreen is another question entirely. I found myself very rarely needing to reach up and jab at the display, simply because the glass-topped touchpad is so good. Just like the touchpad on a MacBook, it feels fantastic under the finger, and every one of Chrome OS’s various gestures leap into life with satisfying speed and responsiveness.The keyboard is a different matter. There’s nothing fundamentally broken here: the layout, the spacing of the keys and the feel as you type on them is all fine, but that’s the problem. Given how good the rest of the Pixel 2’s design is, I was expecting perfection; I’d prefer a little more positive feedback and travel.