When talking about the best Chromebooks available, Google’s original Chromebook Pixel offering was an outlier: It ran Chrome OS, but on a surprisingly high-end machine with a high resolution screen and a budget far beyond the low costs of the average Chromebooks offered by other brands. In other words, it wasn’t clear who this Chromebook was for or who would want to pay so much for it, when Chromebooks are traditionally lightweight, low cost laptops with minimal specs.
It’s no surprise, then, that Google is changing its strategy with the new Pixelbook, a reboot of the Chromebook Pixel that is now available for preorder.
The good news is that the Pixelbook seems more focused than Google’s first Chromebook, slimmed down to a highly mobile hybrid laptop in more direct competition with Surface Pro and Surface Book offerings.
The bad news is that the Pixelbook is still an outlier, at least a few hundred dollars more than the average Chromebook and with far more storage than Chromebooks usually offer, which continues to muddy the Chrome waters.
But let’s talk about the specs on this $1,000 (and up) hybrid.
Storage starts at 128GB and goes up to 512GB, all on SSD. The processor can be either an Intel i5 or i7 chip, and RAM can be either 8GB or 16GB. The battery is vaguely suggested to last “all day” but the fine print confesses to a low 10 hours (including standby time), which suggests this hybrid needs a lot of juice to manage its expanded services.
As far as design goes, the touchscreen is smaller than the original laptop, at 12.3 inches, which is pretty small compared to related brands.
The extra-flat aluminum body is closer in shape to the Microsoft Surface Book than before, but flatter and not quite as wide, making it easier to fit in a case or backpack.
The $100 Pixelbook pen (also imitating the Surface Pen by Microsoft) complements the touchscreen with a few tricks like the ability to circle images or text to access additional options.
Finally, the Pixelbook includes the built-in Google Assistant, with both an Assistant key and a voice command option that helps you find things, answer questions, create events, and so on.
So, the Pixelbook looks to be in more direct competition with Microsoft’s latest laptops, and includes a little more price flexibility: Will this be enough to make it a success, or will buyers continue to prefer their low-cost Chromebook models?