During the Google press conference on October 4th, a new ecosystem regarding the Google line up was announced. This included two new Pixel phones, entirely new wireless headphones, home mini and home max speakers, Clips mini camera, and an updated version of the Daydream VR experience. But what I took a particular interest in was the updated version of their flagship chromebook – the Pixelbook.
Now, after the demise of the Google Pixel, which was the Pixelbooks predecessor, it looks like they have pulled off producing a sleek laptop, in line with today’s market.
The Pixelbook boasts a very modern design, with it’s sharp edges and extremely thin form factor. The dimensions are 0.41 x 11.43 x 8.6 inches and weighs in just under two and a half pounds, which are somewhat impressive. The outer shell is made of aluminium with the back of the screen sporting a Corning Gorilla Glass panel just like that on the new Pixel 2 phones. They have also took what they have learned in previous Chromebooks, with the flagship Pixelbook now being able to be used in ‘tablet‘ mode, which includes touchscreen. The display is a 12.3 inch 2400×1600 LCD panel that makes great work of the available screen. However, Google decided to keep the ‘chunky’ bezels as they claim it is easier to hold in tablet mode and also keeps the laptop itself thin. Additionally, the 12.3 inch display contains a 720p 60fps front facing webcam for all your video needs and the laptop housing includes four microphones, which is great if you’re in a crowded place. The Pixelbook also has 2 speakers, although no specs for these have been released.
The keyboard is made from advanced silicone that has several uses. One use is that they are slightly more comfortable to rest on than the standard aluminium keys you would expect, another is that they act as an anti slip surface for when you are using the Pixelbook in tablet mode. However, they don’t travel as much as normal keys with only 0.8mm, a smooch more than that of a MacBook. Now, something that is a rare occurrence on Chromebooks is that of a back lit keyboard – which this has! Although I would expect the key’s to be back lit with the premium price tag.
What’s also great is that the Pixelbook is now fanless with the introduction of the i5 Kaby Lake processor and you would think that the upgraded i7 version of the Pixelbook may need some sort of cooling, but no, that is now fanless too. Supplied with the i5 processor is 8GB of RAM, and 128GB, or 256GB of storage. You can also opt for the i7 processor with an improved 16GB of RAM and a 512GB NVMe SSD.
The Pixelbook also has two USB-C ports and supports fast charging, claiming that it will generate two hours worth of charge in just 15 minutes. they have also confirmed that it will last up to 10 hours on a single charge. There is also a 3.5mm headphone jack as standard. It is also shipped with 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac WiFi with bands 2.4GHz and 5GHz capability and furthermore has 4.2 Bluetooth incorporated.
As an optional extra you can purchase a Pixelbook Pen from the Google store – First off, it works in sync with the laptop and it complys with a multitude of apps and software available on the Pixelbook. It doesn’t require a cable to be plugged in or even Bluetooth pairing with the device as it is powered by a AAAA battery that you can buy from your local store, and will likely last around a year. The pen itself has very low latency with 10ms and a source from Chrome says that the API for the pen bypasses alot of the layers of the OS and an app or software that uses the API can read the pen’s input more precisely. The Chrome operating system also uses machine learning to try and predict where the movement of the pen is going to reduce the perception of lag; a similar algorithm is used on the trackpad to help with palm and hand rejection.
Furthermore, in additon to the machine learning and AI, Google has introduced Google Assistant to it’s latest Chromebook; an alternate version of Siri for Apple. I predict that Google want this to be one of your main uses for the Pixelbook as they have implemented a dedicated key on the keyboard for quick use. When you tap it, the Assistant pops up and you can type questions to it. It also responds to spoken requests. If you speak to it, it’ll return with the answer with it’s voice. If you type to it, it will type back and respond with on screen information. What’s more interesting is, if you see something of interest on a particular website and you hit the Google Assistant key, It will promptly grab information from whatever is displayed on screen at the time and give you a result based on what is captured. This feature was introduced on the new Pixel 2 phones as Google Lens.
You can also use the Google Assistant with the Pixelbook Pen – The pen has a button on it that when pushed, will open the Assistant. This will then let you circle or highlight anything on the display and do a search for you. It is in the early stages of development, but as machine learning and AI become more of a presence in consumer products it will become more intellectual as time and evolution spreads.
So, for pricing; The Google Pixelbook’s entry level system comes in at a moderately priced $999. If you needed more storage then the next available system comes in at $1,199. The last tier is quite a big jump from the price points of the two previously listed Pixelbooks; with increased storage, more RAM, and an upgraded processor, the top tier Pixelbook hits the shelves at $1,649. These prices do not include the Pixelbook Pen which is an additional $99 if you were to purchase one.
Pixelbook Specs ($999 Model)
- Processor: seventh-gen Intel Core i5
- RAM: 8GB
- Storage: 128GB
- Battery: 41Wh (Google claims 10 hours mixed use)
- Ports: 2 USB-C with fast-charging, headphone jack
- Dimensions: 0.41 x 11.43 x 8.69 inches
- Weight: 2.45lbs
- Display: 12.3-inch, 2400 x 1600 LCD Touchscreen, 400 nits, 72 percent NTSC color
- Camera: 720p
- Keyboard: backlit
- Four microphones, two speakers
- Bluetooth 4.2
- 45W charger
Source – Google