The humble Chromebook is going through a bit of a revolution. Gone are the days when Chromebooks were really only for students or those looking for a low-cost web-based laptop. These days, there are high-end Chromebooks — and the highest-end Chromebook, called the Google Pixelbook, is a pretty serious contender.
Of course, as is always the case with a Chromebook, they’re really only built for a specific subset of users –those that are seriously plugged in to Google’s ecosystem, use largely web-based apps or can get by on Android apps, and who want a nice, lightweight computer. The Google Pixelbook hits the nail on the head for those users — but at a price. Is it worth it? We put it to the test.
The first thing you’ll notice about the Google Pixelbook is its design, and it takes a little getting used to — but once you do, you’ll love it. For starters, the overall shape is a little…square. The Pixelbook features a display with a 3:2 aspect ratio — which is a little strange. Apart from that, however, the computer is stunning. It’s sleek, stylish, and really light, coming in at only 2.45lbs. For comparison, the 13-inch MacBook Pro comes in at 3.48lbs, and the 2018 Dell XPS 13 weighs 2.67lbs. The Pixelbook, safe to say, is one of the lightest laptops around — and that’s good news for those that want something they can easily carry around with them.
On the left edge of the computer, you’ll find a USB Type-C port that can be used for charging, along with a volume rocker and power button. On the right edge, you’ll simply find another USB Type-C port. We would have liked to see, for example, a MicroSD card slot — though not many people will be using the computer for things like photo and video editing.
The Google Pixelbook is a reversible 2-in-1 — so if you’re interested in a laptop you can also use like a tablet, this might be a good choice. Keep in mind that it’s not detachable — so the keyboard will always remain.
The display on the computer is really quite nice. 3:2 aspect ratio aside, the resolution sits in at 2,400 x 1,600, and it looks great. Colors are accurate and bright, and the display in general has a super wide brightness range. In fact, we think the display on this computer rivals some of the best computers around — Chromebook or otherwise.
Then there’s the keyboard. Oh, the keyboard. Typing with the Google Pixelbook is an absolute dream. They keys are perfectly spaced, and the 0.8mm travel is perfect. Each key offers a satisfying click when pressed, and typing becomes…almost fun. All this to say, the keyboard on the Google Pixelbook, in our view, is the best laptop keyboard around. We hope other manufacturers take cues from Google in that respect.
Under the hood
Those that buy a Chromebook in general probably aren’t looking for a computer with the best specs on the market. That doesn’t mean, however, that great specs don’t help. On the contrary, a better-performing device will not only run faster, but it will run for longer too, as apps and services get more and more complex.
The Google Pixelbook features specs that you might not expect from a Chromebook. The base model offers an Intel Core i5 processor with a hefty 8GB of RAM, while the flagship model steps things up to an Intel Core i7 with 16GB of RAM — putting the Pixelbook on par with plenty of other top-tier laptops on the market.
The computer was able to handle our entire workload with ease. That includes multiple tabs open with Google Docs and WordPress, along with Slack, Gmail, and more open as well. It’s not all that surprising given the fact that the computer has such high-power specs. The computer can also easily handle some more high-intensity apps, like Lightroom CC, which comes pre-installed on the device.
The reason to buy the Google Pixelbook over another computer is the software. It’s lightweight, easy to use, and works great. Plus, it’s gotten a whole lot better over the past few years. How? Well, for starters, it now is capable of running Android apps — which opens up its functionality a lot. Gone are the days when there were only a few apps available to Chrome OS — these days, you have access to literally millions of apps that can do millions of different things.
Apps aside, Chrome OS is actually quite nice. It’s easy to get used to and while a little basic for some users, it works great. It also boasts some nice features, like Google Assistant integration. On the Pixelbook, the Function key has been replaced with a button the summons Google Assistant, which is a very nice touch.
As you might expect from a 2-in-1, Google is also selling a stylus for the device — though you’ll have to buy it separately. We found that it worked quite well for many situations, and while you’ll want to look around for good apps that support the stylus, when you do you’ll love them. In particular, the stylus could be helpful for things like graphic design — though it’s also sometimes just a bit of fun to use.
The Google Pixelbook is the best Chrome OS laptop around. It has a few quirks — like the 3:2 aspect ratio — but quirks aside, the computer is a dream to work with, if you’re ok with the stripped-down nature of Chrome OS. Assuming you are, you’ll absolutely love the light design, beautiful display, and how amazing the keyboard feels to type with.
But, should you buy it? If you’re looking for a Chromebook and don’t mind shelling out the cash, then yes, you absolutely should buy it. This computer is perfect for those that travel for work a lot and need something that’s easy to carry around, or those that want a highly-powerful device and can find everything they need on the Google Play Store.