Pixelbook Go Hands-on: Google’s Chromebook laptop

Google's Pixelbook is back, but this time it's a laptop

The Pixelbook line has returned, but this time, Google’s Chromebook is a little different.

The Mountain View, California-based company is positioning the new Pixelbook Go as its entry-level Chromebook, though given the laptop’s expensive $879 CAD starting price tag, it’s difficult to imagine someone looking for a cheap Chromebook opting for it over the other far more affordable options out there.

Still, while I only spent a brief amount of time with Google’s new Pixelbook offshoot, I walked away impressed with what the new Chromebook has to offer. That said, I question the ‘budget,’ entry-level’ positioning of the device.

Pixelbook Go

Unlike the 2017 Pixelbook’s display, which featured a 360-degree hinge allowing the Chromebook to turn into a tablet, the Pixelbook Go features a more traditional laptop clamshell design.

The excellent build-quality featured in the original Pixelbook returns, though. The sleek-looking Pixelbook Go features a magnesium build and a ridged bottom. Google says this wavy rear is designed to give the laptop more grip. While this is likely true, the bottom of the Pixelbook Go is a little offputting at first. It’s likely that the somewhat strange look of the base will grow on me, though.

The one downside to the design of the Go is that the raised, rubberized palm rests from the Pixelbook are gone. This means that the laptop’s display sits very closely to its new keyboard, similar to nearly every laptop out there. If you happen to place the Pixelbook Go in a heavy backpack with a lot of stuff in it, you’ll likely end up with key indents in the laptop’s display. This is an issue I’ve encountered with every laptop I’ve ever used, with the Pixelbook being the only exception.

Pixelbook Go

Speaking of the Pixelbook Go’s keyboard, Google says the new laptop includes extra quiet “hush keys.” In my brief experience with the Go, the laptop’s keys feel just as satisfying to press as the original Pixelbook’s. They’re also slightly quieter, even when typing particularly aggressively — which I sometimes tend to do.

The Go is also exceedingly light, coming in at under 1,090g (2.4lbs). When I briefly held the Chromebook in one hand, it almost felt non-existent.

Regarding technical specifications, the Pixelbook Go features two USB-C ports just like the Pixelbook, a 3.5mm headphone jack, dual front-firing speakers and two mics. It comes in either 8GB or 16GB of RAM variants, along with either 64GB, 128GB or 256GB of storage.

Processor-wise, the Pixelbook Go comes in Intel m3, i5 and i7 processor variants. While the standard Pixelbook Go features a 1920 x 1080 pixel resolution (1080p), there’s also a high-end 4K version with a resolution of 3820 x 2160 pixels (331ppi). The device’s camera measures in at 2-megapixels with an f/2.0 aperture.

The main issue with the Pixelbook Go is that it runs Chrome OS, Google’s snappy, lightweight operating system that is unfortunately still limited in some cases. For example, the Adobe Creative Cloud apps I use on a daily basis for work aren’t available natively on Chrome OS (though Adobe CC’s Android apps are optimized for Chrome OS).

The same goes for Android app compatibility with Chrome OS. While some Android apps have been optimized for Chrome OS’ desktop interface, like Netflix, VLC, Slack, and Microsoft Office, many aren’t. Also, they generally still feel like you’re using a stretched out mobile app on a desktop, which is far from ideal.

The average person looking for a laptop to browse the web, do some light word processing or watch YouTube videos will definitely be happy with Chrome OS. Those looking to use a Chromebook for more could find Google’s desktop operating system limiting.

The new Pixelbook will be available in two colours, with only ‘Just Black’ being available at launch in Canada. The laptop’s more interesting looking ‘Not Pink’ variant — which looks similar to last year’s white Pixelbook, but with a slightly pink tinge — is “coming soon” to Canada, according to Google.

The Pixelbook Go is set to release in Canada starting at $879 CAD for the Intel M3 version of the laptop with 8GB of RAM and 64GB of storage. Pre-orders are set to launch on October 15th, with the device releasing on November 4th.

MobileSyrup will have more on the Pixelbook Go in the coming weeks.

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