On Wednesday, Google launched a new iteration of its own Chrome OS-based laptops. The new notebook has a different form-factor and can be transformed into a tablet. It has a new name in the Pixelbook. And, it has received a hardware upgrade when compared to the previous-gen Chromebook Pixel. The price of Google’s Pixelbook is higher compared to other Chromebooks, but being a flagship model, it has a number of advantages over its brethren, including up to a 512 GB SSD, its own stylus, and Google Assistant support.

Google entered the market of PCs with its own Chromebook Pixel laptop in early 2013, more than 1.5 years after Acer and Samsung launched the first Chromebook notebooks. Neither of the PC makers addressed the high-end of the market with Chrome OS-powered systems, so Google wanted to create a flagship that would show all of the advantages of its OS. For its first-gen Pixel Chromebook, Google chose a 12.85” display with a 2560×1700 resolution and a 3:2 aspect ratio, which offered a very high pixel density at the time, used an aluminum chassis, along with Intel’s high-end Core i5-3427U (Ivy Bridge) CPU to ensure smooth performance. The company released its second-gen Chromebook Pixel in early 2015. The laptop used the same premium display, but was made a bit thinner, integrated Intel’s Core i5-5200U/5500U (Broadwell) CPU with a considerably more powerful iGPU, and 8, or even 16 GB of DDR3 RAM. Neither the first, nor the second generation Google Pixel has ever had much success in the market. The systems were criticized for miniscule 32 or 64 GB SSDs, their reliance on Internet connection, and limitations of the Google Chrome OS in general. They were also only available from Google, and carried a hefty price premium over the other Chromebooks in the market. Conceptually, the Google Pixelbook is still a flagship Chromebook designed to show what an ideal PC based on the Chrome OS should be like, and Google is hoping the new unit addresses multiple drawbacks of its predecessors.

The Pixelbook is a convertible PC that comes in an aluminum unibody chassis with 360° hinges, which enables it to be used in laptop, tablet, tent, and entertainment modes. The convertible form-factor ensures that it will be easy for consumers to use Android apps optimized for larger screens, and Google says the number of apps that support this is growing. The Pixelbook is also considerably thinner and lighter than its predecessors were. It is 10.3 mm thick and weighs around 1.1 kilograms (2.4 lbs). It is still not a tablet from the iPad’s point of view, but it is lighter and thinner than most, or maybe all, Chromebooks on the market.

With the Pixelbook, Google stays true to 3:2 aspect ratio, but the new 12.3” display has a bit lower resolution than its predecessors, coming in at 2400×1600. The company says that 3:2 aspect is better suited for web surfing and recently it gained traction with the launch of various products, such as the Microsoft Surface Pro. Just like the latter, the Pixelbook supports Google’s Pixelbook Pen (sold separately), enabling artists to draw and the rest to use it as a stylus or a pen. At present, the Pixelbook Pen is supported by six apps: Evernote, Google Keep, Infinite Painter, Nebo, SketchBook and Squid. Google hopes that eventually the number of programs supporting the Pen will grow. Another important feature of the Google Pixelbook is support for Google Assistant. Now that all Apple’s Macs are equipped with Siri and Microsoft Windows has Cortana, an AI-based assistant was a must for the new Chromebook. At present Google has not discussed if there are differences in implementation between the PC and phone, but expect support for usual features already supported by Android based devices.

As for internal hardware, Google has launched three configurations of Pixelbook based on Intel’s Core i5 or i7 ‘Kaby Lake’ processors. The systems are to be equipped with 8 or 16 GB of RAM and 128 GB, 256 GB or 512 GB SSDs, indicating that the new Pixelbook is not going to rely the Internet as its primary source data storage. Decent amount of RAM and a high-capacity drive will enable Pixelbook to run demanding programs even in offline mode, and have plenty of room left over for locally stored data and documents. As for connectivity, the system is equipped with Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, a 720p webcam, speakers, a microphone and a headphone jack. There are two USB Type-C ports, which are used for data, charging and display output. Unlike the Chromebook Pixel, the Pixelbook will not come with an optional 4G/LTE modem, but will use smartphones for connectivity when no Wi-Fi is present. This seems like a step back for the idea of Chrome OS though. In addition, the Pixelbook has a TPM chip, a 3-axis gyroscope, a magnetometer and a Hall Effect sensor, which are a typical set of sensors for Android-powered devices and an indicator that Google expects Android apps to play an important role for its PCs going forward. As for battery life, Google says that the Pixelbook can work for 10 hours on one charge and needs only 15 minutes of charging to last for two hours.

Google Pixelbook
  Entry Mid-Range High-End
Display Diagonal 12.3"
Resolution 2400×1600
Brightness 400 cd/m²
CPU Core i5 Core i5 Core i7
Graphics Intel, integrated    
RAM 8 GB 8 GB 16 GB
Storage 128 GB SSD 256 GB SSD 512 GB NVMe SSD
Wi-Fi 802.11ac Wi-Fi module
Bluetooth supported
USB 2 × USB Type-C (5 Gbps?) for data, charging, display output
Other I/O 720p webcam, TRRS connector for audio, speakers, microphone
Dimensions (H × W × D) 290.4 mm × 220.8 mm × 10.3 mm
11.4" × 8.7" × 0.84"
Weight 1.1 kilograms / 2.4 pounds
Battery Life 10 hours
Price $999 $1249 $1649

Wrapping things up, it look like Google wants to address broader audiences with its Pixelbook. The company equipped its laptop with a relatively large integrated storage, thus lowering its reliance on the cloud storage and services. It introduced the Pixelbook Pen (sold separately for $99) for creative professionals and worked with various software makers to develop productivity, creativity and entertainment apps for the Chrome OS. Finally, Google has learnt from its past mistakes and the Pixelbook will be available not only directly from the company, but also from retailers like Best Buy, Abt and B&H. As for pricing, the entry-level Pixelbook will cost $999, whereas the most advanced model will retail for $1649. It's still a lot for a Chromebook, but Google has stuck to its goal of offering an aspirational Chrome OS laptop.

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Source: Google

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  • erple2 - Saturday, July 21, 2018 - link

    Dug Up from the Grave! It's not entirely true. It is a i5 to an i7 (which isn't particularly noteworthy a change in these Ultra low power devices. However, the SSD in the i5's (the 128GB and 256 GB ones) are eMMC based, whereas the 512 GB one is, in fact an NVMe device. Still not entirely sure the price justifies that cost differential, though, especially now in mid 2018.
  • mr_tawan - Thursday, October 5, 2017 - link

    fastest Android-compatible device maybe ?
  • ddriver - Thursday, October 5, 2017 - link

    Yeah, such a great platform to run all that professional, demanding productivity software.... oh wait, there isn't any...

    Too often those multi-billion dollar corporations manage to surprise the world with their capacity for stupidity. With that OS this is just utterly wasted hardware, and it is not cheap either.
  • nagi603 - Thursday, October 5, 2017 - link

    Also, why 512 SSD on a chromebook? 16GB RAM is understandable, desktop chrome itself can eat that much with lots of tabs.
  • WorldWithoutMadness - Thursday, October 5, 2017 - link

    It's pretty decent priced if it's using 8th gen so you can just install other OSes in it. Simple as that
  • digiguy - Thursday, October 5, 2017 - link

    No way you can install Windows on this. ROM is locked to ChromeOS, let alone lack of any drivers...
  • ddriver - Thursday, October 5, 2017 - link

    For that amount of money you can get a yoga 720 with a QUAD core CPU and a 1050 graphics and 4k display. It has the pen, the 512 gb of storage and the 16 gigs of ram as well. And it is trivial to open up, replace batteries, upgrade or replace ram and storage. Unlike this sealed brick, which you will have to throw away when the battery capacity drops in a couple of years, or pay a ridiculous amount of a replacement.

    Google apparently believes they have reached the amount of brand loyalty levels, required to sell overpriced and piratically useless hardware to idiots.

    Even if the OS can be replaced, why bother, when there are already similar form factor products with identical features and much better specs?
  • name99 - Friday, October 6, 2017 - link

    Has it ever occurred to you that the OS is a POSITIVE selling point, not something to rebel against?

    Not everyone wants Linux, not everyone wants Windows. Hell not everyone even wants macOS (which is why, at some point, it'll be replaced with something closer to iOS --- same macOS UI, same macOS ability to use external hardware, even same Terminal.app. BUT more secure, more robust, even less to manage and to go wrong).
  • ddriver - Saturday, October 7, 2017 - link

    A whole lot of things occur to me. I agree that having a niche OS might be a good thing, for example barely anyone will bother writing viruses for it.

    My point was that hardware is literally wasted when coupled with an OS that has no software that could take advantage of it. Thus you are literally throwing money away on buying useless hardware.

    The device would make much more sense with a much lower power CPU and lower power storage, making the device much more affordable and significantly increasing battery life/

    There will be no security to be gained form switching macos to ios, because as soon as that gains prominence it will also become a more prominent hacking target.

    If you think ios is more secure, you must be living under a rock. This week alone there were news of 2 serious exploits. The reason it is less targeted is because the platform offers less reward.
  • 8steve8 - Saturday, October 7, 2017 - link

    No software to take advantage of it? what are you talking about?
    all web-apps run on it.
    Netflix, hulu, gmail, google calendar, google sheets, google drive, google keep, google voice, google hangouts, google maps, JStorrent, facebook, amazon, anandtech.com, wordpress, medium, instagram, skype's web-app, etc etc etc it'd be easier to try to list relevant apps that don't work on it than ones that do.

    Web apps are apps. who cares if they through a web-browser or if they run on win32 or whatever

    you think ios has less reward for hackers than windows? I don't really follow that, I'd argue being able to hack iphones would be the most valuable thing to hack.

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