The Pixelbook is Google’s latest try to make a Chromebook cool. Despite dual before generations of flagship Chromebook Pixels and a handful of high-end copycats from other manufacturers, a Chromebook difficulty stays in a rut. Typecast as cheap, disposable browsing machines or simply locked-down classroom computers, Google hasn’t figured out how to make a Chromebook essential in a same approach a smartphone is for many people.
Google’s answer is to make a Pixelbook some-more like a smartphone. It joins a flourishing list of Chromebook models that support Android apps. It’s also a initial Chromebook to support Google Assistant, before accessible usually on Android inclination (and around an iOS app).
As we competence theory from a Pixelbook’s name, some of a facilities work privately with Google’s flagship Android phones. In a deficiency of Wi-Fi, for instance, it’ll be means to fasten automatically to your Pixel phone, a acquire preference that should be ready, Google says, by a time a laptops start shipping Oct 31. We’ll supplement a practice with tethering once it comes online.
For this review, I’ve looked during both a hardware and a program experiences. The hardware is mint and a program we attempted was still in beta, so not all worked as planned. we can endorse a Pixelbook is a fast, means device—just like a ancestors—but that’s no longer enough. Joining army with Android is substantially a best shot Chromebooks have during apropos fascinating hardware to mainstream users. Whether this plan will indeed work for a Pixelbook (and be broadly adopted by other Chromebook manufacturers) is still unknown.
The Pixelbook hardware: Thin is in
Even if a Pixelbook didn’t have a garland of Android tie-ins, it would still be a nicest Chromebook we can buy: thin, light, and full of forward-looking features. You can see a specs and prices for all a SKUs in a strange Pixelbook news story, yet subsequent we have sum on a sold examination unit.
Dimensions: 11.4 x 8.7 x 0.4 inches. This is a unequivocally skinny laptop that slips simply into your bag or underneath your arm.
Weight: 2.4 pounds. This is lighter than common compared to renouned Windows 360-degree laptops, such as a latest HP Spectre x360 (2.8 pounds).
CPU: Intel Core i5-7Y57 1.2GHz. This is a 7th-generation (Kaby Lake) mobile CPU with dual cores and 4 threads. It has a bottom time of 1.2GHz and a limit of 3.3GHz. As you’ll see in a opening tests below, this CPU achieved handily.
Graphics: Integrated Intel HD Graphics 615 (a lower-end chip).
Memory: 8GB RAM. This looks tiny compared to what you’d get with a Windows or Mac laptop, yet for a Chromebook, it’s an adequate amount.
Storage: 256GB eMMC storage. This is an affordable, if unexciting storage form that’s common to Chromebooks. The highest-end Pixelbook SKU has a 512GB SSD.
Display: 12.3-inch, 2400×1600, 235ppi LCD touchscreen on a 360-degree hinge. The default fortitude is 1200×800, that is substantially easier on your eyes as good as on a laptop’s energy draw. The arrangement has a unequivocally high limit liughtness of 400 nits, yet we totalled it even brighter. Note, however, that a brighter a display, a some-more energy it needs.
Chassis: Aluminum unibody with 360-degree hinge, in one color, Silver
Keyboard: The full-size keyboard has a 19mm representation and a brief 0.9mm travel—an approaching concede in a pattern this slender. The keyboard is still comfortable, yet we cite a longer-throw keyboards on past Chromebook Pixels.
Trackpad: Etched glass, with soothing white rubber panels on possibly side. Clicking, scrolling, and mousing on a pad all felt responsive.
Connectivity: Two USB-C for charging and 4K arrangement support. That’s it, people. No bequest USB-A, not even an SD label slot. But there is a headphone jack!
Wi-Fi: It’s value observant a extended harmony of a antenna: 802.11a/b/g/n/ac. Also, a reason a Pixelbook has a potion tip lid area is to raise a Wi-Fi antenna’s strength.
Battery life: The 41Whr battery lasts adult to 10 hours, Google says. Your mileage will vary, generally if we holder adult a arrangement brightness. See a opening territory for some-more on a battery life.
Pixelbook Pen: A $99 option, it measures 5.79 inches prolonged and 0.42 inches in diameter, and weighs 0.75 ounces. It takes a AAAA battery. It has 10ms latency, that is fast, and recognizes 2,000 levels of pressure, that is about midrange—some competing pens have adult to 4,096 levels of pressure.
Most of a missile is aluminum, yet Google says it put a white-plastic territory nearby a beak to make a coop eaiser to grasp.
There’s only one important downside to this pen. Other models we’ve used, such as a Porsche Design Book One’s Stylus and Microsoft’s Surface Pen, have one prosaic corner to keep them from rolling. The Pixelbook Pen is ideally round, and it rolled all over a place on my desk. It would be good if a $99 coop were a bit harder to lose.
Google Assistant and coop support mount out
Normally I’d dive into opening next, yet a Pixelbook is different. Its Android app support, along with a new capabilities relating to Google Assistant and coop support, matter many some-more than a speeds and feeds. And, overall, my practice were positive.
I’ve attempted Android apps on Chromebooks, and it’s still a work in progress. Google even warned us that a Pixelbook’s app function would be cart due to a beta build installed on eval units, yet a problems we ran into were few and mostly minor.
Android app support matters because it unexpected gives a Chromebook a lot some-more to do. For doctrinaire Android users, being means to use a favorite app on a bigger arrangement with a keyboard can urge usability significantly.
At a time of this review, however, my favorite app (Instagram), and many other Android apps, sojourn stubbornly puny: You can increase Instagram from smartphone to inscription format, yet we can’t make it full-screen. Google says it’s operative with developers to assistance apps welcome a full breadth of a Chromebook’s shade compared to a mobile screen, yet they’ve been observant that for a while now, so apparently it’s going to take some time.
Meanwhile, adding Google Assistant to a Pixelbook inches Chromebooks closer to relation with Windows and Mac PCs, that have Cortana and Siri, respectively, to speak by schedules, tasks, and pointless hunt queries. When we combined my user comment to a Pixelbook, we pronounced “OK Google” 3 times to sight a device to commend my voice. Then all we had to do was contend “OK Google” within operation of a Pixelbook’s 4 microphones, and Google Assistant would launch on a display, prepared for my request.
If we didn’t feel like talking, we could form a query into Google Assistant’s content box. Even better, we could collect adult a Pixelbook Pen, and watch Google’s A.I. engine unequivocally go to work. You start by holding a symbol on a pen’s missile while blueprint around any design or dash of content in a Chrome webpage. Now step behind and see what Google Assistant finds.
Once you’ve comparison something and expelled a button, Google Assistant will try to brand a design and yield information, or register a content for you. In my tests it also seemed to learn from a mistakes: A hunt on an design from Rome yielded formula that were somewhat off, yet repeat tries led to some-more accurate responses.
For me, a genuine fun began when we attempted blueprint apps like Painter. In a march of creation a blueprint shown below, a pen’s 10ms latency frequency dreaming me, yet we already found myself wishing for some-more levels of vigour when we wanted to emanate finer areas of shading. Still, a ability to get off a keyboard and trackpad and get creative—digital erasing, in particular, is a outrageous convenience—is something we adore about all a coop support.
Pixelbook performance: Kaby Lake rules
When we speak about Chromebook performance, remember that Google updates Chromes OS each 6 weeks. Newer models will always advantage from any new improvements.
That said, a Pixelbook’s biggest advantage a 7th-generation Kaby Lake CPU, that is a small some-more absolute and a lot some-more fit than a Skylake predecessor. An softened video engine helps, too. Compared to a 2013- and 2015-era Chromebook Pixel predecessors, a Pixelbook creates good leaps forward.
The Cr-XPRT exam measures Chromebook opening in simple capability tasks, as good as in some-more perfectionist activities, such as examination cinema and personification games. Comparing a Pixelbook to Chromebooks though Kaby Lake, it’s fundamentally no contest.
We also ran Cr-XPRT’s likely battery runtime test. For a test, we set a Pixelbook’s liughtness as tighten to 200 nits as possible, and insert headphones for audio output. The Pixelbook’s projected runtime of 11.67 hours exceeds Google’s spec of 10 hours and is some-more than adequate to get we by a prolonged day.
The Pixelbook looks ahead
Truth be told, a Pixelbook substantially has some-more energy than many Chromebook users will ever need. It gets a high rating not since we consider everybody should buy it. Frankly it’s unaffordable for many people, and tough for many to clear compared to a bone-fide Windows or Mac PC. Instead, a Pixelbook earns a rating since it succeeds in display a best a Chromebook can be.
Interestingly, “best” has developed from simply “premium laptop” to “premium Chromebook-slash-Android experience.” With a 360-degree hinge, and a support for Android, Google Assistant, and coop input, a Pixelbook is prepared to turn an Android phone’s best crony and open adult new frontiers for a common Chromebook. What we don’t know is either other Chromebook (and Android phone) manufacturers will join Google’s push.