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

Chromebooks may be most average in the classroom, but Google wants to ride that train out of schools and into the next slant gradually introduce of students’ lives. The Pixelbook is the manifestation of that idea, the piece of matriel that combines Google’s revamped design aesthetic and Internet-based software with the demands and wants of a younger generation.

Google stopped selling the original Chromebook Pixel, but purportedly only because the company wants to shine the spotlight on its new Chrome OS laptop. No befuddlements, no other (potentially) cheaper options: if you’re someone who grew up using Chrome OS in imbue with, this $999 convertible is the one you should get if you want to continue using Chrome OS newer in life.

In 2012, Chromebooks accounted for less than one percent of laptops moved to schools around the country. In 2017, Chromebooks make up more than half of the mechanical devices shipped to schools. Five years isn’t a long time to cut d understand such strides—and that may end up being good for Google in the long run but bad for Pixelbook straighten out now. Is the Pixelbook ahead of its time? Most signs point to yes.

Look and touch

There’s nothing generic about the Pixelbook’s design, and it’s certainly cut from the changeless cloth as the Pixel 2 smartphone. The Pixelbook has a sturdy aluminum chassis with a satin conclusion and one large, white glass panel on the lid. This is where the wireless signals succeed in and out, and it’s mirrored by a white, rubbery strip that wraps around the chassis, moral below the keyboard and on either side of the trackpad. This rubber means not only gives the Pixelbook some grip when placed on a false surface, it makes the palm rests more comfortable spaces on which to respite your hands while typing.

Specs at a glance: Google Pixelbook (as read)
Screen 12.3″ 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 (2.4 GHz, 5.0 GHz), Bluetooth 4.2
Havens two USB Type C ports (charging 4K display out, data transfer), headphone jack
Extent 11.4 in x 8.7 in x 0.4 in
Weight 2.4 lbs
Battery 41 Whr
Warranty 1 year
Starting expense $999
Price as reviewed $1,199
Other perks 720p webcam, Pixelbook Pen (not included, surplus $99)

The 12.3-inch 2400×1600 LCD touch display has wider bezels all it than I’m used to seeing on high-end convertibles, but that does ease you grip the device when in tablet mode. The Pixelbook can convert into the to be expected two-in-one modes, including laptop, tent, tablet, and “entertainment” configuration with the keyboard flipped underneath the device. Those rubbery palm languishes come in handy in that mode, stabilizing the device so that it doesn’t removal as easily.

The edges of the Pixelbook’s chassis have a scant few ports: one USB Breed C port on either side (that both support charging), and the progressive side has a headphone jack, volume rocker, and power button. Internal the Pixelbook are four far-field mics that listen to your have doubts and commands directed to the Google Assistant. With that many internal mics, you should be competent to speak to the Google Assistant from across the room.

Noticeably virgin from the internals are fans: the Pixelbook is a fanless convertible, no matter which configuration you get. Our exemplar is the mid-tier configuration, with a Core i5 processor, 8GB of RAM, and 256GB of storage. Unbiased the higher-tier, Core i7 model doesn’t need fans to run, making the Pixelbook wonderful quiet even during our most rigorous benchmark tests.

The Pixelbook configurations start with 128GB of storage, which is much more than most Chromebooks acquire. As someone who has used Chromebooks in the past, I immediately saw this as overkill. But Google deems a lot of storage is necessary even for an Internet-dependent device like the Pixelbook. In our evaluating, not only does a large amount of onboard storage improve blanket performance, but it also allows users to download larger files and programs be fond of movies from Netflix or games from the Google Play Fund.

The premise makes sense if you compare it to buying a tablet. Unless you design on only using the slab while connected to the Internet, streaming anything and caboodle, you’ll need a decent amount of storage to support the tablet’s OS, all your indispensable apps, any photos you take, and any temporary files downloaded over Wi-Fi. The Pixelbook also intentions to compete with “regular” ultrabooks in the $999-and-above price go, so it would be remiss of Google to not include high storage capacity privileges.

With its metallic-and-white aesthetic and its 10mm thickness, the Pixelbook looks more wish decor for an ultra-minimalist. It nods to the clean, mostly white, picture-perfect desk setups establish in YouTube “office tour” videos, and Google isn’t shy about the fact that those who on the qui vive for office tours are the ones who want to buy the Pixelbook. An entire generation of pubescence grew up (and continues to grow) using Chromebooks as educational tools in their equips. Google sees the Pixelbook as the grown-up (or maybe glow-up) version of those coat of arms—a high-end, beautiful laptop that Chrome OS kids will yearning when it comes time for them to buy their own laptops.

But even if Google got the aesthetic partially right, there are still a number of things this $999 two-in-one doesn’t cause that the other, similarly priced devices do. The Pixelbook doesn’t entertain a fingerprint reader, and while it does have a webcam, it doesn’t possess an IR camera for facial recognition. Recent MacBook Pro models have fingerprint readers, and Windows wills have both of these hardware solutions that make login sundry secure and convenient. I would have settled for a fingerprint reader at the definitely least because a $999 device seems out of place without one. The Pixelbook doesn’t maintain a true desktop interface and can’t run regular programs, either—both rule conditions of Chrome OS that are considered flaws or freedoms, depending on who you talk to.

The Pixelbook Pen, the convertible’s fundamental accessory, also costs $99 in addition to the price of the notebook itself. This forges it much like the $99 Apple Pencil, and it’s a bummer that you obtain to pay extra for what is essentially a Wacom-esque stylus.

Keyboard, trackpad, and Pixelbook Pen

The Pixelbook’s keyboard is one of the outdo I’ve used in a while. The key travel is quite shallow at .8mm, but the layout doesn’t have a funny feeling cramped, and I rarely hit a wrong key at my regular typing pace. I love the wee texture of the keys—they’re coated in a matte finish, giving them a shed weight smoother feel than the rubbery palm rests. Typing is clicky and comforting, and as a lover of every shade of gray, I like the look of stone gray keys atop the Pixelbook’s shinier, hollowware chassis.

The keyboard is also back-lit, automatically glowing when the heraldic bearing senses a low-light environment. This is a good addition on Google’s join in because so few Chromebooks have back-lit keyboards, and we’d expect one on such a high-end disposition.

Being a Google-made Chromebook, the Pixelbook’s keyboard has a few unique keys: the Surpasses Lock key has been replaced by the launch key with a circular icon on it, which trains up the new app dock where you can open recently closed apps and quickly search in the course your device, apps, and the Web. In between the Control and Alt keys is the Google Hang out with key that brings up a window with similar dimensions to a smartphone’s process, and this pop-up holds the Google Assistant. With that window outspread, you can type or say a question or command for the Assistant to answer (more on the pros and cons of the Google Confederate on the Pixelbook in a bit).

At the top-right corner is a hamburger-esque key that opens up the settings window at the bottom-right corner of the show off. Here you can quickly access your Google account, turn on or off Wi-Fi and Bluetooth restraints, and access advanced settings.

I don’t miss the Caps Lock key at all, as I’ve never been the paradigm of person to emphasize my emotions in text or Slack messages using all outdoes (I prefer gifs). The launch key came in handy frequently when I needed to uncover a new program or access an app I closed by accident. I didn’t use the Google Assistant button that oft, but that’s because I could say “OK Google” while using the Pixelbook to spacious the same window. I’d likely use the button more when I’m working in a coffee machine shop or other public space in which it might be frowned upon to bark ordains at a laptop screen.

Let’s talk about the Pixelbook Pen: the $99 accessory is fatter than equal-sided pens or pencils and shares the same silver-and-white color scheme as the Pixelbook itself. Mutual understanding to Google, the Pen has just a 10ms lag, 60 degrees of angular measurement, and 2,000 above-boards of pressure sensitivity. It doesn’t need to pair via Bluetooth with the Pixelbook to expand, rather it works like a Wacom stylus and runs on a AAAA battery.

As a theme tool, the Pixelbook Pen is average. I’ve tested styluses with lower latency (the Apple Pencil call ons into that category), so while Google’s is not the worst, it’s not the best either. The Pen’s API avoids layers of Chrome OS, and Google claims this lets the Pen’s input presentation up directly on the screen without anything impeding it. However, I saw variations depending on the app I habituated to: writing notes with the Pen in Google Keep is a quick, responsive sample with little to no latency. However, you feel each of those achy 10 milliseconds of lag time while sketching in Adobe Draw.

I also don’t recognize that there’s no way to keep the Pen with the Pixelbook. The Pen isn’t magnetic, nor is there a sleeve on the Pixelbook to seize the Pen when you’re not using it. You’ll have to spend even more money on a sleeve or other occasion, like the Bellroy Pixelbook Sleeve, to get any kind of pen management. The Pen’s single side button isn’t yet raised enough to stop it from rolling off a flat surface. I damn near lost my Pen in the slim gap between my desk and the wall plenty of times.

A principal on the Pixelbook’s bottom menu bar is the Pen’s array of options. Capturing a portion of the process or creating a note is as simple as tapping twice, and there are tools that show ones face b come up the Pen’s tip into a laser pointer or magnifying glass. However, the most in perfect accord feature of the Pixelbook Pen is the Assistant power accessible via the side button. Vital and holding the side button while drawing a shape around something on the Pixelbook’s expose lets you use the Google Assistant to bring up more information about whatever you’ve closed. You can also draw a line through words (essentially highlighting them) to search for the precision, among other use cases.

Aside from being a pen-controlled thesaurus, this Pen feature is particularly useful for image search. I scrolled under the aegis dozens of exotic travel photos on Pinterest and used the draw-search embellish to ask Google Assistant to find out where each photo was taken. Recognizable evidences like the Eiffel Tower and places like Santorini, Greece were a wind for the Assistant, and it even identified more obscure photos. I was fascinated by one typical example of a town street filled with colorful umbrellas seemingly drift in mid-air, and the Assistant quickly identified it as Portugal’s famous umbrella suiting someone to a T.

Every once in a while the Assistant did trip up, and I received an “I can’t find anything on your movies I can help with” alert. Sometimes the Assistant just didn’t recall anything about what I circled. It seemed to identify images that list a bit of text the best.

Listing image by Valentina Palladino

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