The Pixelbook Go looks like a step in the wrong direction

I'm a big fan of Google's pricey line of Chromebooks. I used my original Chromebook Pixel until the wheels fell off and the battery would no longer charge, and unless I'm parked at my desk, I use the current Pixelbook for work and play anytime I need a computer. Chrome OS isn't the perfect operating system and there are "better" Chromebooks out there with newer and faster specs, but I have always liked the direction Google has taken when it comes to the hardware. I want my laptop to be thin, light, and powerful while lasting more than a few hours unplugged.

I think all this has changed now that I've seen more than I needed to see of the Pixelbook Go. It's the first Google-branded Chromebook that I'm not going to buy.

Who is it designed for?

It has a few things that users of the original Pixelbook may find to be worthwhile additions. There's a generational bump in hardware when it comes to the processor and that's going to mean better performance when you need it, and the updated Titan security chip means you can make sure your data stays between you and your Google account. I'm not dismissing either of these important features and they may be enough to get some to upgrade or more importantly, get people to buy their first Pixel-branded laptop.

Where's the pen support?

Lack of Pixelbook Pen support on a 13-inch display and no fingerprint sensor could do the opposite, though. I like to play with the Pixelbook Pen but I don't find it to be extremely useful during my normal workflow. But I've seen and heard enough from people who swear by the Surface Pen or Apple Pencil to know that leaving it out isn't a good thing. The Pixelbook Go will surely support a more universal native stylus of some sort like every other high-end Chromebook but it's not quite the same and anyone who has used both will agree.

I also am not a big user of biometrics but I realize I am the exception and not the rule when it comes to using a fingerprint reader. Not including a fingerprint sensor on the Pixelbook Go is silly. The short-lived Pixel Slate has one and it works just fine so the omission seems strange. Do people who want a fingerprint sensor on their phones not want the same on a Chromebook? But Jerry — maybe Google is going to use the simple 2MP camera for facial recognition and you can unlock it the same way you can the upcoming Pixel 4! No. Facial recognition of any sort that only uses a camera is little better than no lock screen and that's been proven time and time again. Even Google says it's not secure at all.

Pen support and a fingerprint sensor are things nobody ever asked to be removed.

I do like the new look, even though I might be alone here. While a white Pixelbook looks stunning and has held up to dirty hands much better than anticipated, a softer rounded look in a muted "not pink" color had initially caught my attention. It closely resembles what Google has done with the Pixel phone and if you're a fan of rounder more ergonomic design you might like it, too. The ribbed underside is also an improvement and anyone who has used a Pixelbook on their knees for an extended period knows it.

I just need more than a new look. The Pixelbook Go offers nothing that my Pixel Slate can't deliver with the right keyboard accessory, and I get the feeling that this is why it's being made. Google abandoned tablets and rounded up some of the form factor of the Slate and created the Go. Too bad it left out some of the important bits. If it looks like it's something you would enjoy, by all means, ignore me. I can only suggest you spring for one with better specs than the basic model so you can keep it for the full six years of support it will receive

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.