At a look, the Pixelbook seems like a successor to the Chromebook Pixel. It has a premium entry worth of $1,000 and boasts a skinny, tight construct that values portability over efficiency. That’s mirrored in its determination to make use of Core M collection processors, which aren’t as highly effective as “standard” Core i5 and i7 fashions.
In contrast to its predecessor, nevertheless, the Pixelbook rewards contact. It’s not solely touch-capable, however has a well-known 2-in-1 type issue with a 360-degree hinge. An obtainable lively stylus permits digital inking. There’s Android app help, too, a function we first noticed in final yr’s Samsung Chromebook Professional that has unfold to many Chromebooks since.
That sounds nice on paper, however $1,000 continues to be some huge cash. The Chromebook Pixel by no means shaped a convincing argument for why a premium laptop computer ought to run Chrome OS as an alternative of Home windows or MacOS. Can the Pixel change our thoughts?
A Chromebook that appears like nothing else
Google’s unique Pixel was a ruggedly engineered machine with a couple of neat design tips, however its silver metallic chassis failed to face out from the gang. The Pixelbook fortunately takes a unique tact, melding metallic, glass, and plastic in a design that mimics the look of Google’s Pixel smartphones. The silver-and-white paint isn’t eye catching, however undeniably units itself aside from different 2-in-1s, and we expect it seems quite good-looking.
The aesthetic does influence day-to-day use in two small methods. On the constructive, a strip of white, soft-touch plastic on the within provides an expensive really feel. Shut the Pixel, although, and it’s mirrored by a pane of glass on the show lid. Whereas engaging, the glass is slippery, which may result in some hair-raising moments. Rivals like Apple’s MacBooks and the Huawei MateBook X have modern, frictionless metallic frames, however the Pixel feels prefer it was designed, prototyped, and finalized and not using a human hand ever fouling it.
And there’s not a lot to carry on to. At four-tenths of an inch thick, the Pixel already appears skinny on paper. About half that’s within the show, so the decrease chassis appears impossibly slim when open. It’s arduous to consider there’s an entire set of hardware inside. Years in the past, even earlier than Chrome OS was launched, tech analysts speculated we’d sometime use “thin client PCs” that draw energy from the cloud. The Pixel looks like such a PC, but the processing nonetheless occurs underneath your fingertips.
It’s additionally a 2-in-1 system, which suggests the show can fold again 360 levels, turning the laptop computer right into a pill. As soon as folded over, the Pixelbook is straightforward to make use of for many pill duties, although it could possibly really feel unwieldy. The system’s meager 2.four kilos is featherweight by laptop computer requirements, however somewhat heavy for a pill – it’s heavier than the Floor Professional, for instance. We frequently used it by propping it up on a desk as an alternative of holding it aloft.
Ports? Are you kidding me?
The Pixelbook apes its smartphone sibling in connectivity, as two USB-C ports are the one choices apart from a headphone jack. That’s not so much, nevertheless it does put the Pixel forward of Apple’s MacBook, and is definitely on par with the bottom MacBook Professional and Huawei MateBook X. You’ll have to show to Home windows laptops just like the Dell XPS 13 if you need extra choices.
Extra doubtless, you’ll select to go wi-fi. The Pixel is nicely coated there, providing a 802.11ac Wi-Fi adapter with 2×2 MIMO help and Bluetooth four.2.
Our sort of typing
We frightened the Pixelbook’s skinny profile may compromise typing, however placing our fingers on the keys banished these fears. Whereas keystrokes are a bit shallow, and lack the precision present in Lenovo’s ThinkPad X1 Carbon, the keys really feel responsive and backside out with a agency, definitive motion. It’s undoubtedly higher than that in Apple’s MacBook and MacBook Professional, in addition to the Asus ZenBook Three.
The Pixelbook’s keyboard is undoubtedly higher than Apple’s MacBook and MacBook Professional
The format is one other boon. Chrome OS doesn’t want the identical key shortcuts as Home windows or MacOS, and Google has used that to rethink how perform keys are dealt with. The highest row is fantastically organized, and there’s loads of leftover room for giant Backspace, Shift, and Ctrl keys across the edges of the keyboard. All this provides as much as a spacious typing expertise.
Backlighting is commonplace. Whereas it does the job, and there’s minimal mild leak, the keys aren’t evenly lit. This detracts a bit from the 2-in-1’s aura of high quality. We additionally discovered at occasions that the keyboard didn’t mild up in response to our touches, because it ought to.
Under the keys you’ll, in fact, discover the touchpad. Its measurement is average, however the glass floor felt responsive, and gliding by means of multi-touch gestures was easy. We by no means had a problem with unintended clicks or undesirable gesture detection, which may nonetheless be a problem on some Home windows options.
In relation to pens, measurement issues
Google appeared pleased with its lively stylus, the Pixelbook Pen, when it was introduced alongside the Pixelbook. Priced at $100, the Pen is billed as “the only pen that works with Google Assistant” because of the button on its aspect. Maintain it down, circle some textual content, and Google Assistant will do its greatest to … properly, do one thing. Often, that one thing is just an internet seek for no matter you’ve chosen, although typically it may end up in assist with translation, or wanting up the which means of a phrase. Whereas not ineffective, it’s not so helpful that you simply’ll be compelled to attempt it.
Dan Baker/Digital Trends
The Assistant button is the one button, so the Pixelbook Pen lacks the flexibility of Microsoft’s Floor Pen, and as an alternative feels extra akin to the Apple Pencil. You possibly can’t erase with out clicking an in-software menu, for instance, and you may’t launch purposes or program particular features to pen buttons.
Our largest drawback with the Pixelbook Pen, although, is its measurement. It’s chunkier than both the Floor Pen or Apple Pencil, and so it feels much less like a pen and extra like a marker. That could be wonderful if you’re highlighting textual content, nevertheless it’s a problem when writing on the display. Google’s Pen feels unwieldy. There’s additionally nowhere to place it. Almost as thick because the Pixel itself, the Pen doesn’t magnetically connect and is completely spherical, so it simply rolls off tables. We briefly misplaced it twice, and continually felt anxious about the place we final positioned it.
The Pixelbook Pen feels much less like a pen and extra like a marker.
Even should you can hold monitor of the Pen, you could have hassle retaining monitor of when you need to use it. Microsoft constructed its complete Workplace suite round digital inking, however Google’s help is extra restricted. You possibly can jot down notes in Google Hold with ease. Attempt to write throughout a Google Doc, although, and also you’ll see no response. Home windows lets customers ink in virtually any textual content subject – you possibly can search the online with the Floor Pen – whereas Chrome OS lacks that function.
These issues apart, it’s an lively stylus, and it does work nicely. We had no difficulty with its latency, which appears no less than on par with the Floor Pen in real-world use, or its accuracy. The know-how contained in the Pixelbook Pen is sound, however the whole lot constructed arounds it wants work.
An incredible show in a not-so-great body
The Pixelbook hops on the three:2 bandwagon with its 2,400 × 1,600, 12.Three-inch touchscreen. Whereas it might appear small on paper, the boxy facet ratio makes the display look bigger in individual, and it offers numerous usable actual property. The decision works out to a powerful 235 pixels per inch, which is larger than a MacBook’s Retina show.
Dan Baker/Digital Trends
Dan Baker/Digital Trends
Chrome OS isn’t suitable with the testing software program we usually use for shows, so we weren’t capable of go as deep as regular. Nonetheless, our eyes have been proud of what they noticed. The display, which quotes a most brightness of 400 nits, was brilliant sufficient to beat glare. It additionally provided vibrant shade and respectable black ranges although, like most LCD screens, it will possibly look too grey when displaying a particularly darkish picture or video.
Whereas we’ve got loads of reward for the show, we’re much less enthusiastic concerning the chunky bezels surrounding it. Google says they make the Pixelbook straightforward to deal with in desk mode, and in a method, they’re proper. There’s loads of area to seize the system with out by accident tapping an open window or software. The issue appears extra like an invention than an precise difficulty, nevertheless. We’ve used units just like the Microsoft Floor Professional and Lenovo Yoga 920 for hours, and by no means discovered difficulty with their skinny bezels.
Massive sound for slightly 2-in-1
Two audio system lurk someplace contained in the Pixelbook. In contrast to most rivals, Google hasn’t slapped them with branding. There’s no Dolby or Bose right here. Even so, we got here away impressed. You’re not going to host a home get together with this gadget, however it could actually ship sufficient quantity and readability to fill a small room with sound. The built-in microphones have been crisp and, alongside the 720p webcam, made the Pixelbook a sensible choice for video conferences.
Quick sufficient, even with its ho-hum processor
Our evaluate unit got here with an Intel Core i5-7Y57 processor, the “standard” chip out there within the Pixelbook. A Core i7 can also be obtainable, although you’ll should leap to the $1,650 mannequin. Each Core chips are a part of the Core M collection, which is designed to make use of much less energy than different Core hardware. That comes with a efficiency hit.
None of our normal benchmark exams are suitable with Chrome OS, so we will’t decide it alongside Home windows and MacOS machines. That could be simply as nicely, as a result of the working system is so totally different from its friends. Technically, it’s potential to edit photographs on the Pixelbook, however you’re not more likely to contemplate this 2-in-1 if that’s an enormous a part of what you do on a pc.
Google Pixelbook In contrast To
This can be a machine that’ll primarily be used to browse the online, watch video, edit paperwork, deal with private funds, and take notes. None of these duties are demanding. We give the Core i5-7Y57 a tough time in Home windows and Mac evaluations as a result of it scores poorly in comparison with “standard” Core i5 chips, and the distinction could be noticeable. Dell’s XPS 13 2-in-1 is an instance of this.
Chrome OS does little to problem the processor. It flies by way of duties, even with a number of tabs open. You can also make the chip chug in case you hold 20 or extra tabs open, however in any other case, the bounds of the hardware by no means grow to be apparent. The identical holds true of the 128GB strong state drive, and the eight gigabytes of reminiscence (which may be upgraded to 16GB).
Surprisingly, the Pixelbook’s capabilities even prolong to video games. It’s not going to problem an iPad, however most cellular video games don’t depend on spectacular 3D graphics, and so play with out situation. Even Asphalt 7, which is completely 3D – and appears fairly good – ran with out noticeable lag.
Spectacular life from a small battery
At a look, there’s cause to be involved concerning the Pixelbook’s endurance. Its 41 watt-hour battery is small for the class. The Lenovo Yoga 920 has an enormous 70 watt-hour battery, and the Microsoft Floor Professional 45 watt-hour battery.
Google apparently has some secret sauce. Regardless of a small battery, we had no challenge with endurance.
Google apparently has a secret sauce. Regardless of the small battery, we had no problem with endurance. As soon as once more, most of our exams don’t run fairly proper on Chrome OS, or aren’t immediately comparable. We might run the Basemark browser benchmark, nevertheless, and noticed robust outcomes. The Pixelbook lasted 4 hours and ten minutes, longer than the Lenovo Yoga 920, Microsoft Floor Professional, and Asus ZenBook Flip S. The MacBook got here shut, scoring 4 hours and two minutes. Lenovo’s ThinkPad X1 yoga, a battery life champion, was the one current system to last more, and it gained by simply twenty minutes.
We additionally noticed robust leads to regular, on a regular basis use. Utilizing the Pixelbook for a couple of hours by no means drained greater than 30 % of the battery, and it lasted by means of a full work day with simply over 40 % of its cost left. Quick charging is supported, as properly, offering an entire cost in simply over two hours. It labored precisely as marketed in our testing.
Chrome OS, now with Android, nonetheless has some points
The replace schedule for Chrome OS seems meager subsequent to Home windows 10, nevertheless it hasn’t been static. When launched, it was merely a browser window with a smattering of settings. Now, it has coated many the fundamentals of a desktop working system. It has a file supervisor, process bar, window supervisor, and full-fledged system settings menu.
Simplicity stays the working system’s nice power. We respect the essential pleasure of turning on and utilizing a Chrome OS gadget. There’s little to fret about, and the few duties that require your enter – like becoming a member of a Wi-Fi community – are simple.
Even new additions, just like the Information app and notifications, have built-in properly. Home windows 10 and MacOS might have new seems, however their bone are previous, and also you’ll inevitability need to cope with their baggage. Chrome OS, newer and sleeker, has fewer conflicts or considerations.
Dan Baker/Digital Trends
Dan Baker/Digital Trends
We’re unsure Google understands what it has, and the Pixelbook highlights the issue. Including Android purposes to increase app availability feels like an amazing concept, and it does fill some gaps in what you are able to do with a Chromebook. It additionally introduces a slew of issues. We repeatedly bumped into crash points and interface bugs. The Yelp app sometimes crashed when viewing photographs. Slack failed to acknowledge contact enter in textual content fields throughout login. Some apps refused to run in full-screen view.
Interface parts typically look too giant, misplaced, or embrace giant clean areas.
Even apps that work might not look good. As most Android pill house owners can inform you, the eco-system has lengthy had an issue with builders selecting to not replace apps with bigger screens in thoughts. That turns into much more apparent on the Pixelbook, which is far bigger than the typical Android pill. Interface parts typically look too giant, misplaced, or embrace giant clean areas.
Google Assistant, arguably the Pixelbook’s headline function, doubles down on the confusion. Obtainable by way of the acquainted “Ok Google” voice command, the assistant can carry out many acquainted duties – examine your calendar, make appointments, lookup eating places, and so forth. But Assistant was bizarrely unfamiliar with a lot of what was occurring in our world. It failed to seek out paperwork saved on Google Drive, as an example, although that very same knowledge could possibly be looked for within the Chrome OS process bar. We additionally had a tough time navigating Google Calendar, as Assistant insisted on pulling knowledge from one – and just one – of our many calendars.
Reliability was additionally a problem. The “Ok Google” voice command mysteriously stopped engaged on some events, although the microphone itself was high-quality. We additionally noticed the Pixelbook reboot whereas trying to re-train Assistant.
It’s not all dangerous. Assistant was quick when performing duties it will possibly deal with, and it simply put in Android apps once we requested it. Nonetheless, it wants some work, and we expect it makes Chrome OS more durable to make use of.
Google ships the Pixelbook with a regular one-year guarantee towards producer defects, the identical as all its rivals.
Easy, quick, and versatile, the Google Pixelbook is straightforward to love, and presents higher hardware than any Chromebook bought up to now. But its flexibility has led to tough edges, bugs, and quirks.
Is there a greater various?
These in search of a 2-in-1 will in fact examine the Pixelbook to the Microsoft Floor Professional, Lenovo Yoga 920, and HP Spectre x360 13-inch. Google’s entry is extra reasonably priced than many of those, and simpler to make use of. That stated, the mediocre Pixelbook Pen, and modest built-in help for digital inking, holds the gadget again. It’s good if used as a laptop computer that may typically be a pill, however we wouldn’t advocate it if pill use is a precedence.
For Chrome OS followers, in the meantime, we instantly contemplate Samsung’s Chromebook Professional. It’s a lot inexpensive at $599, and it has most of the similar primary options together with a high-resolution show, stylus help, 2-in-1 versatility, and Android app help. The worth hole makes the Pixelbook seem like a poor worth, however make no mistake – it’s a sleeker, higher gadget.
How lengthy will it final?
The Pixelbook has present hardware, so it ought to really feel quick for years to return. We additionally doubt Chrome OS will abandon it quickly. We’re a bit of involved about its Android app help, nevertheless, as a result of it appears unlikely builders will give it a second thought even at the moment, by no means thoughts three years from now.
Do you have to purchase it?
Provided that you’re a diehard Chrome OS fan and need the easiest Chromebook out there. The Pixelbook has a lot to advocate it, but in addition suffers annoying issues, and extra work is required to make Assistant and the Pixelbook Pen really helpful.