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Google Pixelbook hands-on: Stunning hardware with the common singular OS

SAN FRANCISCO—The Google Pixelbook is the latest in a line of flagship Chrome OS laptops that are intensely good and intensely expensive. If it ran anything other than Chrome OS, it would be a top-tier laptop, but it does run Chrome OS, so for $1,000, it’s kind of a tough sell.

Boy, is it a pointy piece of hardware. It’s wrapped in aluminum, like prior Chromebook Pixels. The palm rest is covered in a rubbery silicon pad, which feels fantastic to rest your wrists on while typing. It also serves as a good retaining indicate when you overlay the laptop into its several modes. Hopefully this surface can mount up to the wear and rip of a laptop palm rest.

The back has a top potion panel, just like the Pixel Phones, which serves to let wireless signals in and out. The screen has a potion cover, too, along with the trackpad. The Google Hardware multiplication is clearly operative tough to make its products demeanour like a cohesive family, and you can tell the basement for the Pixelbook’s back pattern is the white-and-silver Google Pixel. Just like the phone, the laptop has a silver-colored steel physique with a contrasting, white-colored potion back. The only problem is that the silver/white tone scheme only matches last year’s Google Pixel. This year, a silver body is not an option on the Pixel 2. So close, Google!


The hinge folds all the way around, vouchsafing you use it in laptop, tent, and inscription modes. Tent is a good mode for examination a video but using too much table space. But the 1kg, 12.3-inch device is flattering unmanageable to hold with one hand, and we never got used to having an unprotected keyboard on its back side. Like we pronounced in the proclamation post, it’s 60 percent heavier than a 12.9-inch iPad Pro. It’s just as difficult in person as it is on paper.

The buttons are all designed around the inscription mode, so just like a phone or tablet, you get a energy symbol and volume rocker combo on the left edge of the device. A side-mounted volume rocker would be very ungainly to use in laptop mode, but thankfully the volume controls are repetitious in the common mark in the keyboard duty row. You’ll also find a USB-C pier on the left, and—take note Pixel 2—a stately 3.5mm headphone jack. On the right side, you’ll find another USB-C port. The Pixelbook comes with a USB-C charger, and just like on the Chromebook Pixel 2, possibly pier can be used for charging.

What kind of shallow-laptop keyboard can you expect?  The transport isn’t as paper-thin as an Apple moth switch, but some-more like the prior Pixel keyboard or a last-gen Macbook Pro. I tested the Pixelbook keyboard after using my 2014 Macbook Pro, and we found the keyboard instantly comfortable. There are a few new keys in the Chrome OS layout. Chrome OS famously demoted the Caps Lock symbol in preference of a “search” key, but this pivotal has been changed to a tiny round label. Like on stream Chrome OS devices, the hunt pivotal opens a hybrid web-search/app-search panel. In the top right is a new settings symbol labeled with 3 plane lines. The many critical new symbol is substantially the “Google Assistant” button, which lives on the bottom quarrel between “Control” and “Alt,” right where you’d find the Windows pivotal on a Windows laptop.

Tapping this brings up the Google Assistant, which creates the Pixelbook the first laptop ever done with Google Assistant built in. The interface looks and works just like the phone app, and we swear it’s even in a window with a 9:16 aspect ratio. The window pops up in the reduce left, just like Windows Start Menu. You can ask questions by voice or form right into the window, and the Assistant will return the common results. Like the Pixel C, the Pixelbook has a suspiciously absolute microphone setup, with four far-field microphones. This is two some-more than even the Google Home, and theoretically this will concede you to speak to the laptop from opposite the room.

They problem with an across-the-room use case is that we was told the Pixelbook wouldn’t have always-on “OK Google” hotword support at launch. For now, the hotword only works when the screen is on. The laptop apparently has a low-power DSP (digital vigilance processing) that is designed for always-on listening, but for now, Google needs to figure out how to it wants to conduct voice commands with a multi-user close screen. This is something it has figured out on Google Home, which can brand and substantiate users just by their voice, but that hasn’t come to Chrome OS just yet. When (or if) it does, you’d have a portable Google Home of sorts.

Speaking of oddities, the Pixelbook has a whopping 128GB of storage as a customary option. Chrome OS devices typically get by with just 16GB of storage, as these are designed as “cloud-first” inclination which need minimal internal storage. Sure, there are Android apps, accessible by the Google Play Store, but 128GB is still a lot of storage for the tiny handful of apps you’d actually like to use on a Chromebook. 128GB is just the starting storage amount, too. The Pixelbook goes all the way up to 512GB. But if you wish to store large amounts of media—movies, music—locally, the Pixelbook gives you that option.

If you wish to spend another $99 on your $1,000 Chrome OS laptop, you can buy the Pixelbook Pen. This is an aluminum and steel stylus with a 10ms lag, 60° of bony dimensions and 2,000 levels of vigour sensitivity. Most of the time it works just like a finger, scrolling web pages around and rearranging windows. In a sketch all the low latency feels great. There’s fundamentally 0 check between essay and the line appearing on the screen, making it feel just like a genuine pen. If the right kind of app support for the Pixelbook Pen were to show up, this could be a critical device for artists.

There’s a symbol on the pen which will concede you to perform a visible hunt with the Google Assistant. Just hold the symbol down and you’ll start to draw a blue line. Circle whatever you wish to perform a hunt on, and a dash of the picture will be sent to the Google Assistant. This can do things like commend people or landmarks.

You won’t find any difficult charging setups here. The Pixelbook Pen is powered by a AAAA battery. Yes that’s a quadruple-A battery. we had no thought these existed until today.

It’s tough to clear the squeeze of a $1,000 laptop that can only display web pages and run unimpressive Android phone apps. You can’t really use the Pixelbook for the kind of things that typically clear a $1,000+ cost tag, like gaming, photo processing, development, or video. Chrome OS defenders can come up with some janky web or Android apps that roughly obey some of these use cases, but zero of them are the kind of industry-defining programs you get on other platforms. This is the third era of these premium Chrome OS flagships, though, so Google must be happy with the presumably low-volume sales of a device like this. If you favourite the other Chromebook Pixels, you’ll like this one, but zero here closes the opening between Chrome OS and other laptop OSes.

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