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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  • watzupken - Thursday, October 5, 2017 - link

    Chromebook was first design to have a light OS and an affordable solution, i.e. something that can be used in schools without breaking the bank. This however, I am not sure if Google actually thought through who is their target audience. Just because the company is worth billions doesn't mean they waste resources coming up with meaningless product.
  • jwcalla - Thursday, October 5, 2017 - link

    Google has gone full-on retarded in the past couple of years.
  • AgeOfPanic - Friday, October 6, 2017 - link

    Every article about a Chromebook has the same discussion. The people who have used a Chromebook are generally in love with it (including myself), the people who haven't can't see the point. Most of the criticism are aimed at the lack of features, but for most of the proponents that is the strong point. Everything it can do works and works well. Especially installing the platform is such a joy. Login and within 5 minutes you're up and running. I just wish people could look past their own needs and ideas to understand others better. Nobody would recommend a Chromebook to a gamer or a power user.
    This Pixelbook is obviously for the professional who wants to install Linux and use it for development and also to stimulate development of the ChromeOS platform. For people who don't need this use case, there are the Asus C302A or the Samsung Chromebook Plus/Pro. I have the former and it is really nice. 2-1 functionality, great keyboard and trackpad, 64GB and microSD.
  • SpartanJet - Friday, October 6, 2017 - link

    Thats one expensive paperweight. Can you at least install Windows 10 on it so you can you know, do something other than fart apps?
  • HStewart - Friday, October 6, 2017 - link

    It funny when Microsoft makes a lock down version Windows with Windows 10 S people complain. But then when Google makes an useless Chrome OS machine - they like it. The best type of CPU for this environment is probably Atom cpu's and possibly the m3-6y30.

    I am sure if Chromebooks got as popular as Windows, Virus will be created for it. They are not creating the virus - because nobody truly uses them.

    I do feel sorry for gullible non informed user - that purchase one of these or even worst the new Google one's with i7, expecting they can do more. But I could see this being used for a person like my dad who is 82 years old - with one exception can it do Microsoft Word or Excel

    To me Chromebooks remind me of Windows RT machines with less apps.

    I assume if you had an endless supply of money and wanted a good machine for only surfing the internet it would be good choice.

    As developer how could you used this machine - do they have developer app - I heard you can't installed other OS's on this things. Why would developer consider a machine like this. To me it is an over price toy
  • twtech - Friday, October 6, 2017 - link

    Different types of customers - the people complaining about a locked-down Windows 10 are not the same people who'd buy a Chromebook or an Apple device.

    That doesn't mean that their complaints are invalid though - Microsoft needs to understand their customers and why they have continued to be Microsoft customers rather than Apple or Google customers.
  • HStewart - Saturday, October 7, 2017 - link

    As far as I heard what is bad with this devices is they don't allow other OS's to run on it. Microsoft does have Windows 10 S that is pretty much same level of OS command to Chrome OS.
  • peevee - Wednesday, October 11, 2017 - link

    Except you can turn S into a real thing for $50.
  • twtech - Friday, October 6, 2017 - link

    The hardware looks nice, but the price is comparable to Windows convertibles like the Lenovo Yoga and Dell XPS 13 2-in-1 that you can do a lot more with.
  • HStewart - Saturday, October 7, 2017 - link

    I have an XPS 13 2in1 and this thing has a major difference - it can not run real applications. Screen on XPS 13 2in1 is significantly better also.

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