Google Pixelbook review: Prepared today for the possible reality of tomorrow


Chromebooks could also be hottest within the classroom, however Google desires to journey that prepare out of colleges and into the following part of scholars’ lives. The Pixelbook is the manifestation of that concept, the piece of that mixes Google’s revamped design aesthetic and Internet-based software program with the wants and desires of a youthful technology.

Google stopped promoting the unique Chromebook Pixel, however seemingly solely as a result of the corporate desires to shine the highlight on its new Chrome OS laptop computer. No distractions, no different (doubtlessly) cheaper choices: in the event you’re somebody who grew up utilizing Chrome OS at school, this $999 convertible is the one you must get if you wish to proceed utilizing Chrome OS later in life.

In 2012, Chromebooks accounted for lower than one % of laptops shipped to varsities across the nation. In 2017, Chromebooks make up greater than half of the cell units shipped to varsities. Five years is not a very long time to make such strides—and which will find yourself being good for Google in the long term however unhealthy for Pixelbook proper now. Is the Pixelbook forward of its time? Most indicators level to sure.

Look and really feel

There’s nothing generic concerning the Pixelbook’s design, and it is actually lower from the identical material because the Pixel 2 smartphone. The Pixelbook has a sturdy aluminum chassis with a satin end and one massive, white glass panel on the lid. This is the place the wi-fi indicators come out and in, and it is mirrored by a white, rubbery strip that wraps across the chassis, slightly below the keyboard and on both aspect of the trackpad. This rubber materials not solely provides the Pixelbook some grip when positioned on a slippery floor, it makes the palm rests extra comfy areas on which to relaxation your arms whereas typing.

Specs at a look: Google Pixelbook (as reviewed)
Screen 12.Three” 2400×1600 (235 ppi) QHD LCD touchscreen
OS Chrome OS
CPU Intel Core i5-7Y57
GPU Intel HD Graphics 615
Networking 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, 2×2 (MIMO), dual-band (2.four GHz, GHz), Bluetooth four.2
Ports two USB Type C ports (charging 4K show out, information switch), headphone jack
Size 11.four in x eight.7 in x zero.four in
Weight 2.four lbs
Battery 41 Whr
Warranty 1 yr
Starting worth $999
Price as reviewed $1,199
Other perks 720p webcam, Pixelbook Pen (not included, further $99)

The 12.Three-inch 2400×1600 LCD contact show has wider bezels round it than I am used to seeing on high-end convertibles, however that does aid you grip the gadget when in pill mode. The Pixelbook can convert into the standard two-in-one modes, together with laptop computer, tent, pill, and “entertainment” mode with the keyboard flipped beneath the gadget. Those rubbery palm rests come in useful in that mode, stabilizing the gadget in order that it would not transfer as simply.

The edges of the Pixelbook’s chassis have a scant few ports: one USB Type C port on both aspect (that each help charging), and the left aspect has a headphone jack, quantity rocker, and energy button. Inside the Pixelbook are 4 far-field mics that take heed to your questions and instructions directed to the Google Assistant. With that many inside mics, you must be capable to communicate to the Google Assistant from throughout the room.

Noticeably lacking from the internals are followers: the Pixelbook is a fanless convertible, irrespective of which configuration you get. Our mannequin is the mid-tier configuration, with a Core i5 processor, 8GB of RAM, and 256GB of storage. Even the higher-tier, Core i7 mannequin would not want followers to run, making the Pixelbook tremendous quiet even throughout our most rigorous benchmark checks.

The Pixelbook configurations begin with 128GB of storage, which is rather more than most Chromebooks have. As somebody who has used Chromebooks up to now, I instantly noticed this as overkill. But Google thinks quite a lot of storage is important even for an Internet-dependent gadget just like the Pixelbook. In our testing, not solely does a considerable amount of onboard storage enhance general efficiency, however it additionally permits customers to obtain bigger recordsdata and applications like films from Netflix or video games from the Google Play Store.

The premise is smart in the event you examine it to purchasing a pill. Unless you propose on solely utilizing the slab whereas related to the Internet, streaming something and every little thing, you may want an honest quantity of storage to help the pill’s OS, all of your needed apps, any pictures you are taking, and any non permanent recordsdata downloaded over Wi-Fi. The Pixelbook additionally goals to compete with “regular” ultrabooks within the $999-and-above worth vary, so it might be remiss of Google to not embody excessive storage capability choices.

With its metallic-and-white aesthetic and its 10mm thickness, the Pixelbook seems extra like decor for an ultra-minimalist. It nods to the clear, principally white, picture-perfect desk setups present in YouTube “office tour” movies, and Google is not shy about the truth that those that watch workplace excursions are those who wish to purchase the Pixelbook. An complete technology of youth grew up (and continues to develop) utilizing Chromebooks as academic instruments of their faculties. Google sees the Pixelbook because the grown-up (or possibly glow-up) model of these units—a high-end, lovely laptop computer that Chrome OS children will need when it comes time for them to purchase their very own laptops.

But even when Google obtained the aesthetic half proper, there are nonetheless plenty of issues this $999 two-in-one would not have that the opposite, equally priced units do. The Pixelbook would not have a fingerprint reader, and whereas it does have a webcam, it would not have an IR digicam for facial recognition. Recent MacBook Pro fashions have fingerprint readers, and Windows units have each of those options that make login safer and handy. I’d have settled for a fingerprint reader on the very least as a result of a $999 gadget appears misplaced with out one. The Pixelbook would not have a real desktop interface and might’t run common applications, both—each basic situations of Chrome OS which might be thought-about flaws or freedoms, relying on who you speak to.

The Pixelbook Pen, the convertible’s primary accent, additionally prices $99 along with the worth of the pocket book itself. This makes it very like the $99 Apple Pencil, and it is a bummer that you must pay further for what is basically a Wacom-esque stylus.

Keyboard, trackpad, and Pixelbook Pen

The Pixelbook’s keyboard is likely one of the greatest I’ve used shortly. The key journey is sort of shallow at .8mm, however the format would not really feel cramped, and I not often hit a mistaken key at my common typing tempo. I like the slight texture of the keys—they’re coated in a matte end, giving them a barely smoother really feel than the rubbery palm rests. Typing is clicky and satisfying, and as a lover of each shade of grey, I just like the look of stone grey keys atop the Pixelbook’s shinier, silver chassis.

The keyboard can also be back-lit, robotically glowing when the gadget senses a low-light atmosphere. This is an efficient addition on Google’s half as a result of so few Chromebooks have back-lit keyboards, and we would anticipate one on such a high-end gadget.

Being a Google-made Chromebook, the Pixelbook’s keyboard has a number of distinctive keys: the Caps Lock key has been changed by the launch key with a round icon on it, which brings up the brand new app dock the place you’ll be able to open not too long ago closed apps and rapidly search via your gadget, apps, and the Web. In between the Control and Alt keys is the Google Assistant key that brings up a window with related dimensions to a smartphone’s display, and this pop-up holds the Google Assistant. With that window open, you’ll be able to kind or say a query or command for the Assistant to reply (extra on the professionals and cons of the Google Assistant on the Pixelbook in a bit).

At the top-right nook is a hamburger-esque key that opens up the settings window on the bottom-right nook of the show. Here you’ll be able to rapidly entry your Google account, activate or off Wi-Fi and Bluetooth controls, and entry superior settings.

I do not miss the Caps Lock key in any respect, as I’ve by no means been the kind of particular person to emphasise my feelings in textual content or Slack messages utilizing all caps (I favor gifs). The launch key got here in useful continuously after I wanted to open a brand new program or entry an app I closed accidentally. I did not use the Google Assistant button that always, however that is as a result of I might say “OK Google” whereas utilizing the Pixelbook to open the identical window. I might probably use the button extra after I’m working in a espresso store or different public area through which it may be frowned upon to bark orders at a laptop computer display.

Let’s speak concerning the Pixelbook Pen: the $99 accent is fatter than common pens or pencils and shares the identical silver-and-white colour scheme because the Pixelbook itself. According to Google, the Pen has only a 10ms lag, 60 levels of angular measurement, and a couple of,000 ranges of stress sensitivity. It would not have to pair through Bluetooth with the Pixelbook to work, quite it really works like a Wacom stylus and runs on a AAAA battery.

As a writing device, the Pixelbook Pen is common. I’ve examined styluses with decrease latency (the Apple Pencil falls into that class), so whereas Google’s just isn’t the worst, it isn’t one of the best both. The Pen’s API bypasses layers of Chrome OS, and Google claims this lets the Pen’s enter present up straight on the display with out something impeding it. However, I noticed variations relying on the app I used: writing notes with the Pen in Google Keep is a fast, responsive expertise with little to no latency. However, you are feeling every of these painful 10 milliseconds of lag time whereas sketching in Adobe Draw.

I additionally do not recognize that there is not any technique to maintain the Pen with the Pixelbook. The Pen is not magnetic, neither is there a sleeve on the Pixelbook to carry the Pen once you’re not utilizing it. You’ll must spend much more cash on a sleeve or different case, just like the Bellroy Pixelbook Sleeve, to get any form of pen administration. The Pen’s single aspect button is not even raised sufficient to cease it from rolling off a flat floor. I virtually misplaced my Pen within the slim hole between my desk and the wall loads of instances.

A staple on the Pixelbook’s backside menu bar is the Pen’s array of choices. Capturing a portion of the display or making a notice is so simple as tapping twice, and there are instruments that flip the Pen’s tip right into a laser pointer or magnifying glass. However, essentially the most distinctive function of the Pixelbook Pen is the Assistant energy accessible through the aspect button. Pressing and holding the aspect button whereas drawing a form round one thing on the Pixelbook’s show allows you to use the Google Assistant to deliver up extra details about no matter you’ve got chosen. You can even draw a line via phrases (primarily highlighting them) to seek for the definition, amongst different use circumstances.

Aside from being a pen-controlled dictionary, this Pen function is especially helpful for picture search. I scrolled via dozens of unique journey pictures on Pinterest and used the draw-search device to ask Google Assistant to search out out the place every picture was taken. Recognizable monuments just like the Eiffel Tower and locations like Santorini, Greece have been a breeze for the Assistant, and it even recognized extra obscure pictures. I used to be fascinated by one picture of a city road stuffed with colourful umbrellas seemingly floating in mid-air, and the Assistant rapidly recognized it as Portugal’s well-known umbrella road.

Every every now and then the Assistant did journey up, and I acquired an “I can’t find anything on your screen I can help with” alert. Sometimes the Assistant simply did not know something about what I circled. It appeared to establish pictures that embody a little bit of textual content one of the best.

Listing picture by Valentina Palladino

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