Google Pixelbook review: Finally

Meet the Pixelbook, or as Google calls it, "the laptop reimagined".

It's the latest Chromebook from Google and it's a lot different than anything we've seen from them before. It's thin and light and futuristic in design, filled with powerful, over-the-top specs, works great as a laptop or a tablet, and has Google Assistant on board. You can even buy a dedicated Pixelbook Pen, and paired together with the Pixelbook you can do some pretty cool stuff.

After you use it for a while you come to a simple understanding: the Pixelbook is a mobile device. It's the natural evolution of the netbook when people with grand ideas are the ones designing it.

That's the broad interpretation of the Pixelbook, but it's far too simplified. It's amazing hardware matched with Google's vision of computing and built simply to show what can be done. So it's not really too far away from Google's efforts with the previous two Chromebook Pixels. These aren't built to sell by the millions. They're built because they're cool.

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About this review

I've been using the Pixelbook for about a week. A week isn't long enough to find everything you love or everything you hate, but it does give me enough time to form an opinion and share it. That's what this review is — some thoughts on the Pixelbook from someone who uses a Chromebook most of the time, and is all-in with the Chrome OS experience. Essentially, I'm the type of person Google made the Pixelbook for.

In video form

Google Pixelbook Video review

There's nothing like a good video to give you a feel for a product. The Pixelbook is no exception. Watch as Jen Karner, Russell Holly and Jerry Hildenbrand become fans of this great device.

Bold and risky

Google Pixelbook Design

The first thing you'll notice about the Pixelbook is how different it looks. Side by side with a Microsoft Surface Book you'll see they are actually pretty similar, but the white glass section of the back and the very squared edges draw your eyes. They almost look out of place, as it's rare to see a thin aluminum laptop be anything but aluminum. It's polarizing — you'll either love it because it's different, or you'll think it's just different and strange.

Like Google's Pixel phones, there's a wide band of glass that covers the top fourth behind the screen. In this case, it's white glass and stands out. It's a design choice, but it's also functional. Like the Pixel phone, glass is used to cover radio antennas to boost reception. The Wi-Fi and Bluetooth antennas sit behind the glass rather than behind a section of plastic on the edge or bottom like we see in other aluminum laptops.

When you open the Pixelbook, you're also faced with a large white band across the front fourth of the keyboard deck. The trackpad sits in the center and it's surrounded by a strip of white silicone-like material. It's soft but not thick, and a little sticky or tacky. Functionally, it provides three benefits: it's a great wrist or palm rest, it keeps the screen away from the keyboard or any aluminum parts and acts as a sort of non-skid surface when you have the Pixelbook in its tent or tablet mode.

So far, it's stayed clean and white, but I have some reservation about the materials choice. Eventually, white silicone (or whatever silicone-like material is being used here) is going to show some dirt. A cursory test using a sprinkle of ash from the fireplace wiped away with a damp cloth, but I wasn't trying to grind it in. Hopefully, Google did its homework here and the material will prove to be stain-resistant and easy to keep clean.

Built for user input

Centered in its cushiony nest is the trackpad. Trackpads on Chromebooks have a mixed history; we've seen plenty of sub-par ones. The Pixelbook carries the trend of great trackpads the Pixel line of Chromebooks is know to have used, thankfully. The trackpad is spacious and glass covered (white, of course), and I'm finding it great to use. It's smooth but has just a hint of friction, much like a MacBook after you've used it a while and the ultra-slickness has been tamed by a bit of finger oil and dirt.

The keyboard itself outperformed my initial reaction, which is good. My first impression, as someone who uses a stiff mechanical keyboard on the desktop, was not great. Surprisingly, it didn't take very long to "train" my hands to use it and the typing experience is a lot better than I expected. It's certainly not my favorite way to put some words on the screen, but there's nothing I can single out as bad. You'll probably need some adjustment time with the Pixelbook keyboard, but I'm betting you won't have any lasting complaints. It's also fully backlit, which is great and expected at this price.

The future of the convertible

The hinges seem sturdy and completely functional without standing out and spoiling the smooth rectangular look. They're 360-degree solid hinges and you can fold the Pixelbook over completely to use it in tablet mode. The Pixelbook is also designed to be used in tent mode, where both sides are folded over and it stands like a tent, and in "Entertainment mode" where the keyboard is folded behind the screen so it's out of the way for watching movies. The hinges are smooth and fairly stiff. You won't have any problems flipping the screen over in any configuration, but it's not going to flip on its own from gravity.

The hinges also house a set of disappointingly average speakers. They sound muffled and muddy, even at full volume. The placement in the hinge certainly contributes to this, and while using the Pixelbook in laptop mode, it's not something you'll want to use to listen to your music all day. It seems like the speakers were designed to be at their best while the Pixelbook is in Entertainment mode and the keyboard is folded behind the display. I understand this move and it's smart to have speakers that work best while watching a movie, but I still was wanting more.

Just laptop things

To round out the external features and design are a handful of ports and controls along the edges. On the right side you'll find a USB-C port and a charge indicator LED, and on the left, you'll see another USB-C port with indicator light as well as a 3.5-millimeter standard audio port that supports headphones and a mic in any combination along with a volume rocker switch and a power button.

USB-C ports and no SD card mean you're probably going to need some adapters.

Both USB-C ports confirm the Power Delivery standard. You can use either to charge the Pixelbook, use the Pixelbook to charge your phone, connect a USB-C headset, or connect any device that uses USB-C to communicate or transfer data. To compliment them a 45-watt power adapter that can provide two hours of use after 15-minutes of charge time (thanks to the USB-C Power Delivery standard) comes in the box.

One thing missing is any type of SD card slot, so you'll need an adapter of some sort to transfer photos from your camera or copy any files from an SD card to the Pixelbook. Likewise, any peripherals you have that use the long-standing USB-A connection will need an adapter.

Above the display, while in laptop mode, you'll find a 720p 60FPS camera. It's perfect for things like Hangouts or other video chatting applications and captures movement nicely with little to no blur. You'll probably not want to use the Pixelbook as a camera for taking stills even if you find an app that makes this easy to do, but for its intended purpose, it's great. Rounding it all out are four microphones that are designed with video conferencing in mind. Their placement and noise cancellation deliver exactly what was advertised, even in noisy environments.

The gorgeous display

The Pixelbook's 12.3-inch display is stunning. It carries the tradition of previous Pixel Chromebooks with a 3:2 aspect ratio and delivers a bright picture with great color depth and separation. With a resolution of 2400x1600, the LCD has a density of 235 pixels per inch and provides excellent detail. Casual testing shows it has a wide viewing and several people will be able to get a distortion-free look at any sensible angle.

This display. Wow.

There's a wide bezel all around the Pixelbook's screen, and this is by design. Every step of the design process was done with tablet functionality in mind, and like a tablet, there is room to hold the screen without touching it on all sides. It can be a little distracting, depending on what you're doing, but the configuration does work well when you use the Pixelbook as a tablet. And Google thinks you'll be doing a lot of it.

Of course, it's a full multi-touch screen, and as expected the touch response is excellent. Whether you're running an Android app, using any of Google's suite of office applications or just playing a game on the web the touchscreen performs flawlessly each and every time.

Google has always gone all-out with the display on their Pixel line of Chromebooks. The Pixelbook is no exception. It's amazing at full brightness, and completely usable in a power-sipping dimmed setting. You will love this display.

Delicious excess

Google Pixelbook specs

The Pixelbook will come in three different configurations.

The base $999 model, which is what we're reviewing here, has a seventh-generation Intel Core i5 processor, 8GB of RAM and 128GB of SSD storage. This gives you a Chrome experience that's as flawless as you'll ever find and the extra storage is great for installing Android apps or your own videos. Chrome is designed for the cloud, but there are still things that need some local storage. Managing that storage because you only have 16 or 32 GB of it can be frustrating, but that won't be an issue here.

Stepping things up to $1,199 gives you 256GB of storage space, and for the ultimate power-user a Core i7, 512 GB storage, 16GB RAM model will be available later in the year for $1649. The full specs as tested here:

Swipe to scroll horizontally
CategoryGoogle Pixel 2
Operating SystemChrome OS
Display12.3-inch 2400x1600 (235 ppi) Quad HD
72% NTSC color LCD
Multi-touch with Google Pixelbook Pen support
400 nits brightness
ProcessorIntel Core i5 processor
Seventh Generation (Kaby Lake)
Storage128/256GB SSD
Battery41 Wh (Use time of up to 10 hours)
45W charger (5V/3A, 9V/3A, 15V/3A, 20V/2.25A)
Fast charging: up to 2 Hrs in 15 min., or 7.5 Hrs in 60 min
USB-C Power Delivery compliant
KeyboardFull-size with 19 millimeter pitch
0.8 millimeter travel
Fully backlit
TrackpadEtched glass edge-to-edge trackpad
CameraFull color 720p @ 60FPS
ConnectivityWi-Fi: 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, 2x2 (MIMO), dual-band (2.4 GHz, 5.0 GHz)
Bluetooth 4.2
Additional featuresPixelbook Pen active stylus
Google Assistant with one-touch button
ColorsSilver Aluminum unibody
Corning Gorilla Glass detail
Platform updatesYears of free OS updates
Dimensions11.4 x 8.7 x 0.4 in
290.4 x 220.8 x 10.3 mm
Weight2.4 lb
1.1 kg

Great at multitasking

The Pixelbook Pen

A $99 accessory, the Pixelbook Pen offers a great way to draw on the screen, take notes, or interact with Google Assistant.

It's virtually lag-free. This is a big deal for anyone who wants to create digital art and also a must-have for any type of handwriting input. Its 10 millisecond response time pairs well with 2,000 levels of pressure sensitivity and full tilt sensing to make the Pen a natural extension of your arm when it comes to any type of input.

The pen is powered by one AAAA battery, which should last a full year. As an active stylus, it can communicate with the Pixelbook's display so the position and distance can be carefully monitored. The Pen's body is nice and full for easy holding and the point is very fine for precise drawing and annotation.

With 2,000 levels of sensitivity and full tilt support, the Pixelbook Pen really is worth $99.

Note-taking is easy with apps like Squid or Nebo, and at release, an update for Google Keep not only works great with the Pixelbook Pen but also will show on the lock screen for easy note taking and time management. The Infinite Painter app was recommended by Google to test the drawing capabilities, and we'll second that recommendation as it offers great support for pressure sensitivity and brush tilting. Screen capture and annotation work directly through the operating system and apps like Nebo will easily convert handwriting into text when you feel like being creative.

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The circle is complete

Google Assistant meets Chrome

The showcase feature of the Pixelbook and the Pixelbook Pen is Google Assistant. It's the same Google Assistant you'll find on your phone or inside a Google Home, but there are a few extra touches.

The Pixelbook Pen's button links you to Google Assistant with a configuration that's part Google Now and part Google Lens. Press the button and draw around any portion of the display and Assistant springs to life to offer details on whatever you've captured. Public figures will be identified, words will be looked up in the dictionary, and it can look at a picture of everyday things, like your phone for example, and define them as well as provide a direct link to Google search results.

For the most part, this gets all of the easy things — circling a photo of Lucille Ball will identify her every time — and misses many of the difficult things. For example, a photo of the Essential Phone is recognized as a Pixel. We're not sure how well Assistant will be able to learn things like this, but it's using the same methods as Google Lens so there's definitely a learning component at play.

You can also bring up Google Assistant with its dedicated keyboard button. This opens the Assistant window and you use it the same as any other Assistant-ready product, but one feature unique to the Pixelbook is a standout and has doubled my use of Assistant: You can type your query as text instead of speaking, and the response will also be silent. This is great for times you're out in public where Assistant might have trouble recognizing what you're saying or you just don't want to be that person who is talking to their laptop or tablet. For someone who types all day for a living, it's also a natural way to ask Google for any answers.

Assistant is even more useful when it stops talking.

Assistant on the Pixelbook isn't very different from Assistant on any other device. The unique Chromebook features are a nice touch, and hopefully they roll out for any Chromebook with a pen and it can be mapped to the search button once Google is satisfied with the way it all works. A unified experience is key for any software that purposes you use it throughout your daily routine.

Same as it ever was

Chrome is still Chrome

The Pixelbook comes with Android app support through Google Play out of the box. The onboarding experience is great: Follow the normal Chrome sign-in process, and once your desktop is displayed you are prompted to sign into Google Play. Any updating or installing support applications is automatic and once finished you'll have a Google Play icon in your app tray.

Plenty of Android apps work on Chromebooks, but few are great.

The apps themselves are a mixed bag. You'll find plenty that work great. They resize properly, the windows are movable and shrink to the taskbar or go full screen exactly as expected, and really feel like a native application. You'll also find other older apps that don't resize and hang when you try to minimize them or just want to misbehave in a desktop environment. The biggest issue with Android apps on the Pixelbook is also the biggest issue for Android apps on a tablet — they were designed for a small phone-sized screen.

This has always been, and may always be, a pain point for Android. Companies like Samsung have made some wonderful tablets, and Google has a few of its own. But developers aren't forced to add features that directly support a much bigger screen. Android apps are infinitely scalable, and finding an app that works as intended on the Pixelbook isn't difficult, but finding with elements that properly scale or layouts designed for this much real estate is a little more difficult.

Let's try this again

Your new Android tablet

It's clear that the Pixelbook was designed not as a Chromebook with a flippy convertible screen, but as a device that's equally good in either configuration. The touchscreen is as responsive as any tablet you'll find, the display was built to allow you to hold it as a tablet in any direction, and the 10-millimeter thickness and 2-pound weight mean it's not going to feel exceptionally bulky or heavy.

Being a convertible isn't an afterthought; the Pixelbook is as much tablet as laptop.

I've been using the Pixelbook pretty equally divided between laptop mode and tablet mode. I can work at my desk and type away (of course, I wrote this review using it) or sit back with my feet up for an hour or two using it as a tablet when I don't need to type. The wireless connections seem fine, though I'm not sure how much the glass has to do with it. Bluetooth headphones work across my house just like they do on any other good Chromebook and I have a great Wi-Fi signal inside as well as on my small workspace on the porch.

Google claims you can get 10 hours of battery life with the Pixelbook, and they're not too far off the mark. Without caring about brightness or how many things I'm doing and CPU speeds, I get between seven and eight hours of usage before I really need to plug things in. The two hours of use on a 15-minute charge is also an accurate statement and a few small top-ups can keep me going all day and all night until I fall asleep reading.

The Pixelbook is comfortable to use and blazing fast while doing anything I have thrown at it so far.

Apps done well feel natural in tablet mode.

Google needs to find a way to entice developers to build apps that work great on a tablet, not just work on a tablet. The Pixelbook could be that incentive, as it would allow a developer to experience the best of both a tablet world and a Chromebook world, as Android is now a permanent part of Chrome. Should a company build a similar device without the over-the-top specs and prohibitive price tag, this configuration just might take off. Instead of thinking the Pixelbook is competing with the Surface line or a MacBook, we should be thinking it competes with the iPad Pro.

Apps done well feel especially natural with the Pixelbook in tablet mode, and being able to read a book while holding the screen in my hands as well as being able to send a long email using a real keyboard on the same device is great. We just need more than Play Books and Gmail to be great.

A $1,000 halo

Should you buy the Pixelbook?

Ask yourself a simple question — does anyone really need to spend $1,000 on a Chromebook? Your answer should be no. Samsung and ASUS both make very powerful Chromebooks that will do anything you can do with Chrome and do it well. They tear through Android apps, can render and display even the most intricate web page or app, and most importantly, have a price tag about $500 cheaper than the Pixelbook. Nobody needs the Pixelbook. But Google most certainly doesn't think this is a product anyone needs.

These aren't built to sell by the millions. They're built because they're cool.

No, the Pixelbook is the very definition of a halo device. The term gets overused, but really — Google made the Pixelbook because they want to show what's possible. Seeing how great Chrome can be on excessive (yes, I'll go that far) hardware is the hallmark of the Pixel line of Chromebooks, and it's continuing on the new Pixelbook as a true mobile hybrid device. Google built it because they can.

It's an amazing device and lives up to all the hype that has surrounded it since we first heard of it. And there are people who will buy it, but not because it's something anyone needs. It's that thing that you want. It was built for people like me, who have changed their digital life to be all-in with Chrome and really want the shiny beautiful thing. If you're also that person, you'll love the Pixelbook as much as I do.

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Jerry Hildenbrand
Senior Editor — Google Ecosystem

Jerry is an amateur woodworker and struggling shade tree mechanic. There's nothing he can't take apart, but many things he can't reassemble. You'll find him writing and speaking his loud opinion on Android Central and occasionally on Twitter.

  • I prefer the surface pro. Its more expensive but not limited to the store. As for the pixel phone its great
  • same her ,
  • On the other hand, most programs ordinary people use are actually Android Apps. In that regard, a chromebook offers more "normal people" software choice than a windows notebook.
  • BlueStacks App Player. Problem solved.
  • Unfortunately BlueStacks offers limited compatibility and a clunky interface. It is not problem solved at all. In my personal experience the Chromebook is truly a superior device for this kind of use case. But I am a user steadily moving away from the MS Windows environment. While Windows does retain a few capabilities that Chromebooks simply don't match, I have been pleasantly surprised at how well I can transition away.
  • BlueStacks is janky as hell, even with higher end hardware.
  • Hey Daniel...fancy you over this way....Try MEMU, its even better than stacks!
  • The phone sized app issue is a BIG problem for chrome OS still. It will get better, but how soon? That issue makes Chromebooks not up to snuff yet in my mind. Love my Samsung Plus, but not to do work
  • How bad is it on the plus?
  • Depends on what you're doing. What tasks are you looking to accomplish? I have a Plus and it's a great machine, especially since I was able to get it on sale week one for $350, but I'm still drooling for a Pixelbook. The build and design are unmatched. Performance is silky smooth; if you have a fast internet connection, web response is instantaneous. Although one of my favorite aspects of the Plus is the stylus, and the extremely well thought out software that goes with it, the built-in Wacom screen and stylus look to be even better than the stylus on the Plus.
  • I do everything from basic browsing to photo and video creation etc. I love texture for travelling. Having all my magazines in one spot is deadly! I have a dell windows 10 2 in 1 now, i really like it. I use it every day but i am always looking at other things...."besides Macs". I think they are terrible. WONKY backwards OS, no touch controls, etc. I would rather pay 2000 for a pixelbook than 2000 for a MacBook. But if I can do all I need on a chomebook, I would grab one for a deal. Then, if I REALLY LIKE IT, I would grab the top spec pixelbook for sure.
  • Can you side load Android apps on a Chromebook? I haven't tried this.
  • Open the Android app settings > turn on unknown sources > install any ANDROID file manager. A Chrome OS file manager or the built-in files program doesn;t work here. > put apk file in downloads folder (not on SD card) > open it with Android file manager and it will install.
  • That only works if you first put your whole chromebook into developer mode. You can't enable "unknown sources" for android when ChromeOS is in regular mode.
  • Derp. Can tell I put my Chromebooks into dev mode as soon as they come out of the box :P
  • this is one of my major frustrations with ChromeOS you shouldn't have to be in developer mode to install from any source you want. You don't have to unlock a bootloader on your phone to install an apk.
  • This is because of the ultra-high level of security built into Chrome OS. I'm down with the limitation, given the absolute immunity from viruses I get on a Chromebook.
  • @ellett, exactly. That is the entire point of a Chromebook. Secure, fast, lightweight, productive.
  • Great review Jerry! I just wish Google and other OEMs would start selling Chromebooks in more countries. Maybe if Chromebooks become the new "de facto" Android tablets they will start getting a wider release.
  • Oh boy, I've always wanted to spend $1000 to run a web browser!!! Sorry but considering the price, no matter how nice the hardware is, I'd rather get a Surface device and run full Windows.
  • That's a perfectly valid assessment if you prefer the Windows environment. Much like you'd probably want a MacBook if you prefer Apple's OS experience. However, there is no inherent value to Windows which makes hardware running it definitively better. I can think of a wide variety of reasons why I might prefer the Chromebook pixel to a Surface at the same price point. Kudos to Jerry for noting that essentially the same experience from the Chromebook Pixel can be achieved with a less expensive Chromebook. Comparing like to like offers better clarity.
  • Don't entirely agree. Chrome OS is just not there yet. It has the potential, but some missing functionality
  • This response is so old and tired. Chromebooks that have android apps are much more useful. But I was surprised how much I could get done with just a browser on an older Chromebook. I have a powerful desktop for gaming and various random other programs that I don't use often. I need a light and fast portable device for the vast majority of my needs. The Pixelbook is a premium variant of that. And I want it!
  • Jerry, I have heard that the 512 storage on the i7 model is going to be NVME storage. What type of storage is the 128/256 in the i5 version?
  • Not 100% sure. My guess would be standard PCIe soldered-in SSD. If I can get any model numbers when I start playing with the OS on it, I'll be sure to say something.
  • In my opinon, this thing makes no sense. It's like buying a porsche knowing it has the motor of a trabbi
  • I think if you compare it to the an iPad pro with a keyboard which costs about the same then it makes more sense. As much as the iPad makes sense anyway.
  • I would buy the pixelbook over the iPad pro. Just as I would buy the iPad over the surface for tablets. It's all about what the user needs....More choice is ALWAYS better.
  • This was the only cool device Google announced this year. I'm happy to see Google finally recognizes the utility of a stylus. Still not going to buy one, though. $1,100 with the pen is just too much for a Chromebook. But if I had money to burn, I'd get one.
  • No chance I'm paying $1K for a chromebook, there are far better deals out there. A chromebook is only a companion device not your primary computer like Google seems to be hoping this will be so unless money is no object for you then spend your $1K on a PC like the Acer Switch Alpha etc..
  • That works the opposite way, too. I use a Chromebook as a primary device and have a secondary computer for playing AAA games and audio production.
  • I agree with Jerry on this. I'll never give up my desktop, use it for some gaming and heavy productivity with multiple monitors. Mobile has become my main source of computing, my desktop isn't even turned on daily anymore. Nearly everything I do android can handle.
  • I rarely use my desktop anymore only every few days when i need a large monitor and some heavier work video editing otherwise im mostly using my ipad pro or pixel even chrome can do most of what i need daily.
  • What's a desktop lol,?
  • Been using Chromebooks since late 2010, they became my primary device(s) after only a few months.
    Right now I have an i3 Chromebox driving a 28" 4K monitor for my desk and a Samsung Chromebook Plus for mobile use and documentation work (the stylus makes image capturing and annotation a dream). I still want a Pixelbook, which I plan to use to replace both my Chromebox (with a USB-C dock to hook up the monitor and charge it at my desk) and my Chromebook Plus. I have a small Windows notebook that I keep vertically racked up on a bookshelf, and access it via Chrome Remote Desktop on the few occasions I need it. It hasn't come off the bookshelf in over a year.
  • Do the chromebox support touch through the monitor?
  • Chromebooks make EXCELLENT companion devices! Especially if you travel a lot. They are so light and fast. Having a an android phone and a chromebook make a great duo for travelers and/or mobile computing people.
  • Chromebooks are not my thing personally but great review! I have to say that blue Pixel and the Pixelbook look really good together in that picture.
  • Yeah, I was looking at white for something different but I think im going to get the blue. It's different. Im getting tired of black/grey phones all the time.
  • I miss my Chromebook, they do everything I need a computer to do and and do so far better than any Windows machine Ive ever used. Including my current relatively high end laptop
  • Damn I want this. Probably can't justify the purchase,
  • Exactly lol. It's not always about what it can or can't do because most importantly, IT'S NEW AND SHINY!!
  • Jerry, another great review, thanks. Love the hardware, but I can't justify giving up my ASUS Flip.
  • I hear that. When it's time to retire your Flip there might be other all-in-ones like this that aren't as expensive!
  • You can pick up a CB Plus pretty cheap now. I had a flip and upgraded to a plus and it is night and day better. I love it.
  • If I had the budget to get this, get the Pixelbook, load in Linux to swap back and forth and call it a day. :-) Too bad the pen is extra and there's no slot for it like the Samsung Chromebook Pro.
  • Looking at some magnetic options for the Pen. You're right about Samsung doing that better. One of those things that will bother some more than others, but will eventually bother everyone at some point :P
  • If you come across a good magnetic option, I'm all ears! I've been toying the idea of having this as my primary laptop. My MacBook Pro is going on 5+ years, but much of what I do has been more on Google's ecosystem than Microsoft, Adobe and others. I've been considering the newer MBP's, but at their price point and issues surrounding them (keyboard, Touchbar, etc.), it doesn't seem worth it. So for half the cost, I could spring for the Pixelbook instead (including the pen), and any design (and Office files that can't convert to Docs/Sheets) heavy lifting I'll still do on my MBP.
  • Just saw a magnetic clip on the play store today.
  • I'm looking at the Google Store, but don't see a clip. I did see this one, courtesy of Bellroy:
  • didnt take long till it no longer was there, and yes it was the bellroy one.
  • Good review, got a couple questions. I didn't see mention of the keyboard being back lit, I assume it is on a device of this price, so is it? Do you know what pen tech they are using? Is it Wacom?
  • Keyboard is back lit with three brightness options and I believe and an auto level option. The Pen is using Wacom tech and has tilt support with very low latency.
  • Yes, it's backlit. I need to add that line in, thanks! I can't see any Wacom firmware in the system info panel, but it's kind of limited. I'm going to see about putting it in dev mode and playing with some things and hopefully, i can get more information about all the hardware.
  • Mine just shipped, excited to get hands on with it.
  • Awesome!
  • Mines coming Nov 6th! Last laptop I had was a Alienware MX 17 from 2010 or so,with first gen i7 I think. I wonder how how 7th gen i5 compares to 1st gen And that alien only came with 4 GB ram. Back then it flew. Played wow on it. So this will be a nice change. And I also am a guy that can pretty much done everything on mobile these days. Can't wait.
  • That's how a real journalist does a review. Excellent job Jerry!
  • Thanks! this was a group effort, and Jen Karner and Russell Holly were a big part. Besides shooting the video, talking to them about what they could do/how they felt really helped :)
  • Jerry, now that there is full Play Store support, can you download and play movies and television shows in HD using Play Movies and TV?
  • Yep!  
  • Thank you sir!!
  • I wonder how many people's Play Movies libraries look just like that because of all the freebies? Add the Star Wars collection (which I paid for) and it's spot on identical.
  • Thanks for the review JH... When my ancient 2011 MacBook air dies, I'll get one of these...I spend most of my time in forums posting pics, and blathering on...the rest of the time I'm buying crap at Amazon or online somewhere, this is perfect.
  • Since there's only a USB c port, do you think you can just use the usb-c to USB-A adapter from the pixel 2 box to compensate? Are there any limitations to what that adapter can do?
  • Yep. Works fine for power and data.
  • Awesome. Thanks Jerry
  • Great review!! The horns on Bader, on the video portion of the review, was a nice touch. Ha
  • :) We love Daniel and he's a good sport!
  • As someone that has used a microsoft surface 4 , this device is actually pretty interesting. There are no high end android tablets anymore. You get that plus very strong hardware, the capacity to use android apps with chrome does fill in a lot of the gaps in software.
    I will say this about my surface--there was no worse feeling than opening it up in a meeting to take notes and have it do a slew of windows updates. And I would routinely check the machine once a week to check for updates to try to avoid that.
    That should not be an issue on chrome which is a huge bonus.
    I do wish it had a fingerprint sensor.
    I had a Samsung Chromebook plus and it was nice, but the keyboard was just awkward enough for me to not like it. And the initial android apps implementation was a mess in terms of using apps full screen. The other major issue--at least on other Chromebooks, android apps cannot see the SD card for removable storage. So forgot about putting pictures music files, or pdf files to edit with the pen on the microsd card slot. I assume that is why the new pixelbooks have so much more storage than Chromebooks of the past. Well, that and that they have no micro sd card slots. I do wonder about the acer spin 11 as it has a pen, usb c and usb a and is much cheaper is a better short-term option.
    I am just curious how they update the pen in chromeos--the Samsung Chromebook pro/plus and stylus has no button, and I think the newer pixel pen does have a button...
  • The Acer Spin 11 is a nice little machine. powerful enough, and amazing battery life + tough as nails. Yeah, the Pixelbook Pen has a button, but I would imagine the button could be reproduced by something like a double-tap with the stylus nib. I'm confident that Assistant and Lens is coming to other Chromebooks, and not including it for the Samsung Pro/Plus is crazy. Google is crazy, but not that crazy.
  • Completly silly question, but I'm assuming whatever graphical power is coming from the CPU. Is there any reason for them (Google) to add or support a graphics card in something like this? Can ChromeOS even handle that?
  • Yeah it uses the Intel HD GPU in the chip. Chrome could handle a separate GPU or even an external one with very little change. And if Google gets serious about webVR (and they are) they almost have to make a Chromebook with a beefy GPU. VR web apps will need one once developers start doing cool stuff. I will buy the first Chromebook with a 1080 Ti on day one! lol
  • Quick correction: silicone, not silicon. The processor's hard silicon, the soft, rubbery, comfortable pads are silicone.
  • Thanks. I admit I just click the red squiggly line and let it make all things better even when it doesn;t :P
  • Death to all the red squigglies!
  • I prefer to use my Dell inspiron its not as fancy as a chrome book but it has regular USB A ports as well as a touchscreen and was a lot cheaper running full Windows 10 so I'm happy. The Pixelbook seems pretty Cool but I don't think it is for me but anyone using a Mac I would recommend this computer too at least this computer has a touchscreen
  • Jerry, a few weeks back in the podcast immediately following the pixel/pixelbook announcement you talked a lot about desktop level software that you could run on a chromebook but you never specified how. If I remember right you said you could run full up lightroom and not in some gimmicky way. Were you just talking about Crouton? You mentioned you would run programs in chrome browser tabs. How was this working? Anyway, I think I and several others would love to know more. Do you have any upcoming articles planned that would discuss this? I'm definitely interested in Crouton and CrossOver for windows apps, but I would love to learn more about other options out there.
  • I've got Crouton and Crossover and using apps with both (including Steam or lightroom in a Chrome tab) planned. there are also some things in the works that are really cool when it comes to more "advanced" productivity apps on Chrome and we're going to be on top of them when they happen.
  • Thanks so much for the reply. I'm not sure what "things in the works" you are referring to, but I am curious if you buy the claims by that droplet company that they will be able to run windows apps with a basic container. To me this sounds too good to be true, but you know more than me so I'm curious. I also know that google is working on containers for ChromeOS, but I haven't been able to decipher if that will be just for Linux apps or if their goal is windows apps as well.
  • The answer to "why" so much horsepower on a chromebook?
    So Googlgers can run Goobuntu, or whatever they call it, on it.
  • No...the correct answer to why there is so much horsepower in the pixelbook is **** YOU thats why!
  • I just received my shipment notice in email but I don't have a delivery date yet. I'm getting the base unit along with the pen. Thanks for a good review Jerry; I knew it would be.
  • Jerry, great review, however I'll stay with my Acer r11 and Acer Chromebook 14 for now. Pixelbook is just too pricey at the moment. Would like to see Chrome support native CD/DVD prior to spending over $1000.00.
  • Physical media?! Burn the witch!!!!!! D:
  • OK, plan B, but lotto ticket, win; then buy Pixelbook & Pen!
  • I would like to have this device but the price is a deal breaker!
  • M
  • I hate to be that guy buuuuut....Cann it run a real desktop OS ?
    You have to wonder who this laptop is for...
  • Yes. It can...called ChromeOS. I don't hate to be this guy...but....You know....GFY!
  • I'll wait til it comes down to $500 lol!
  • that will be 20NEVER. ha ha.
  • In that range, Samsung Chromebook Plus, ASUS C302, Samsung Chromebook Pro, all great machines.
    Pixelbook will never come down.
  • 2013 Pixel is $499 new in box. Finding one is the hard part.
  • Yes, for $499 you could get a 2013 Pixel. But as Jerry says elsewhere in the review, there are other current generation machines that are great values and great machines. Samsung Chromebook Pro, which is currently on sale for $499, is one of those and it won't give you birth-control-by-heat if you use it on your lap like the old Pixel would. And Amazon will have one to you in 2 days, no searching. Even if I had an opportunity at a 2015 Pixel for $499, I'd opt for the SCP. Since the Pixelbook is a Halo device, Google has absolutely no incentive to reduce the price.
  • Great review, but one small quibble. You still use a USB cable to transfer files? Really? In this day and age, is there an advantage? For photos, I have my phone set to automatically upload to Google Photos in original quality, which makes both the backup process and the photo organization automatic. For other files (the few that aren't already up in the Google Cloud) I use Airdroid. Much quicker and cleaner than a cable. If you have an Android phone, Airdroid works to connect it to Chrome OS, Windows, OSX or Linux.
  • Thanks. And nope. I use wifi file manager. It does the same thing as Airdroid but came out first and I spent money on it so it stays lol. But I do need to take photos from my camera 9not phone camera) and edit them on my Chromebook, and with no sd card that means a card reader, and with USB C only that means buying a new one. I imagine a lot of people would want to do the same and get their pics into google photos and wanted to make sure they knew they might need new stuff to do it.
  • I keep forgetting that there are others than me who still use DSLRs. And lots of those don't use microSD cards; they use full-size SD cards. I got a microSD-to-SD adapter for my Nikon and use the microSD to USB-C/USB-A adapter I got on sale a while back. That way I only need to keep track of a single, compact, adapter for my new and my legacy machines. Three packs of USB-C-to-USB-A and USB-A-to-USB-C adapters are frequently on sale as well, if you want to make an old card adapter ready for the new world. I still use the DSLR but less and less. I find that "the best camera is the camera I have on me" keeps getting truer, and I'm pushing myself to see how much I can do with my phone camera since I got my amazing Pixel. Last summer I made a deliberate decision to only take my phone with me on my vacation to England and was pleasantly surprised at the photo results, and in how great it was to have all my photos uploaded and organized in Google photos every night by the time I sat down to share with family and friends. I think I'm going to invest in some Moment lenses and case and see how much that can substitute for the lack of optical zoom and specialty lenses.
  • Great review Jerry, Can you check to see if apple music will load on from the play store onto the pixelbook? Oh, and the pixel 2 for that matter....I may go that route for my devices!
  • Anyone know if the apple music app works on Chromebook, from the play store?
  • Got mine today (the 256 gb model). Loving it so far! My previous Chromebook was from 2013! LOL 
  • I own a Pixel C tablet. In a year, I'd like to upgrade to the new Pixelbook. In the meantime, I thought it would be fun to buy the Pixelbook Pen ahead of time and use it with my Pixel C tablet. Will that work? If I buy the Pixelbook Pen, can I connect it to other devices? (Anyone out there with a Pixelbook Pen who could test this for me?)
  • I own a Pixel C tablet. In a year, I'd like to upgrade to the new Pixelbook. In the meantime, I thought it would be fun to buy the Pixelbook Pen ahead of time and use it with my Pixel C tablet. Will that work? If I buy the Pixelbook Pen, can I connect it to other devices? (Does anyone out there have a Pixelbook Pen who could test this for me?)
  • accidentally double posted!
  • I finally saw a Pixelbook at a Best Buy today and was amazed at its hardware quality - Google did an amazing job. I was sad that the Google Assistant key didn't do anything on the managed demo unit, though. (Hopefully this is just an oversight and it normally works?)