With the announcement of a new line of Google Products on October 9, it is time to revisit Google’s own direct competitor to the Surafce Laptop or Macbook Air: their Pixelbook. A high performance Chromebook built on Google’s own OS that does double duty as a tablet.
Built from reassuringly sturdy glass and aluminum with a well-designed 360 degree hinge, the Pixelbook weighs in at a generous 2.5 pounds and a surprisingly thin half an inch in depth. Built with Google’s own smartphone design language, the Pixelbook has a similar glass shade on the back adding some much needed symmetry to their line. The similar white panel on the inside also looks great and the silicone palm rests feel comfortable and add that premium touch to make it stand out from the other offerings on the market. Additionally, the keyboard is one of the best we have typed on in 2018 with keys that have great travel and the 12 inch touchscreen is par for the course and is plenty bright. Our only gripe with the build, is the insane bezels around the screen that scream a 2015 design motif that just doesn’t seem to make a whole lot of sense.
The Pixelbook is powered by some pretty powerful hardware, the star of the show is the 7th Gen Intel® Core™ i5 or i7 processor and 8gb or 16gb of RAM (depending on price tier) and this in unison with their very light operating system means this puppy flies through tasks, gaming and streaming without a hitch. The included dual speaker setup is sufficient albeit disappointingly quiet and battery life has been a little under the 10 hour promise, usually needing a quick charge via USB-C (another welcome feature) by the 7-8 hour mark with moderate to heavy use. Another feature that we love that Google has added to its laptop/tablet hybrid is the Pixelbook Pen functionality, an active Wacom designed stylus that gives much more versatility for users when it comes to document/image editing or just navigating around the system even if it is a little on the laggy side at times.
Now, aesthetic beauty and hardware power aside, lets address the Google Chrome Operating System. Labelled one of the most misunderstood computing platforms, it is simply not what PC or Apple users would be familiar with. To put it simply, it is a web-centric system that is perfect if you are reading news stories, surfing social media, or using other web-based services like Gmail and Google Docs and does so very well. A super computer for web apps, Google has also added its own Google Assistant to add a little personal AI to the experience whereby you can talk or type your queries and get a response instantaneously and is something we hope to see more of. If you wish, it also can identify items you circle with the pen or even read your emails and documents to you if you are feeling lazy.
Another great thing with the OS is the ability to run Android apps alongside native Chromebook apps, however it is not without its caveats, at times it feels like you are running two very different but the same apps in the same space, not to mention, there are lots of apps that have both web and Android versions, so you’ll need to choose one and this leads to some confusion for the average user. Don’t even get me started when you flip it into tablet mode and some apps just don’t work the same at all. Needless to say, some work needs to be done on making the whole thing more cohesive but you will never not be able to find what you need and there are some great Android apps that just aren’t available on PC’s or Apple MacBook.
All our gripes aside, despite the learning curve for this strict PC only user, the Pixelbook is not only well built and zippy, it also gets security and OS updates every six weeks or so, making this one of the most secure systems on the market and despite it being a largely underrated and often misinterpreted operating system, it is definitely on its way to becoming something special.
We are excited to see what Google has for us on Tuesday and for those who still want to check out the Pixelbook, you can now Save $250 on the 128 GB Google Pixelbook.
Get yours at https://store.google.com/product/google_pixelbook