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Google Pixelbook hands-on: Great hardware, if the price tag doesn't put you off

We go hands on with the new Google Pixelbook, a super premium notebook from Google running Chrome OS. Will you be buying one?

Published onOctober 5, 2017

Google just released a ton of new hardware. We’ve got new phones, speakers, earbuds, cameras, and yep, you guessed it, a new laptop.

The Google Pixelbook is a 12.3-inch foldable laptop running ChromeOS. It has full support for the Google Play Store too, so you’ll be able to run all your favorite apps and games right on your laptop.

At just 2.4 pounds (just over 1 kg) and only 10 mm thick, you should be able to take it just about anywhere, whether you want to use Google Play Books on the train or watch a video on Google Play Movies.

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It takes the glass visor design from the Pixel phones and applies it to a laptop, with a glass panel on lid to aid in Wi-Fi reception and silicon panels flanking the touchpad. It’s very stylish and looks every bit as expensive as its price tag.

An image of the Google PIxelbook.

If you want to get crazy with upgrades you can, from the Pixelbook Pen for $99, which really should’ve just been included, to various spec bumps that can inflate the final price of the laptop to $1649 (not including the optional Pixelbook Pen).

The Pixelbook Pen offers 10ms of latency, 60 degrees of angular awareness, and over 2,000 points of pressure sensitivity. It works just like a standard Wacom stylus with no Bluetooth pairing required. It’s powered by a AAAA battery that should last for about a year, so no bizarre recharging required like the Apple Pencil.

The Pixelbook comes off the shelf with pretty good specs too. The baseline model is running an Intel Kaby Lake Core i5 processor with 8 GB of RAM and either 128 GB or 256 GB of SSD storage, not that you’re likely to need that much storage since ChromeOS mostly lives in the cloud.

There’s also an i7 model with 16 GB of RAM and 512 GB of NVMe storage. Both the i5 and i7 models are fanless and feature the same 12.3-inch 2400 x 1600 LCD touchscreen with 400 nits of brightness.

Google claims the 41 Wh battery will get you ten hours of mixed usage and fast charging will allow it to absorb two hours worth of juice in just 15 minutes. There’s two USB Type-C ports and a headphone jack too.

The backlit keyboard offers a very comfortable typing experience and there’s a dedicated Google Assistant key where you’d find the Windows key on a PC keyboard. Assistant can read the contents of the screen to provide additional info on demand, or can be used with the Pixelbook Pen to highlight a specific area you want extra details on, like identifying a photo or doing a Google Search on some text.

The addition of a touchscreen and the Pixel Pen (if you want to spring for it) only further open up the use cases for this 4-in-1 laptop. Thanks to its funky hinge system, the Pixelbook can be folded into tablet mode, tent mode, laptop mode or rested on its keyboard in a kind of reverse laptop mode. Just be prepared for the jiggles when jabbing at the screen in this orientation.

The convertible nature of the Pixelbook, its impressive specs, gorgeous design and creative potential of the Pixelbook Pen make the Pixelbook the Chromebook to beat. The addition of Google Assistant is going to make it a ton of fun to use and its tiny form factor and light weight mean you’ll be likely to take it everywhere with you. If you can justify spending a thousand dollars on a Chromebook, that is.

What are your thoughts on the Pixel Book? Is it way too expensive or exactly what you’ve been waiting for? Will you be getting one?

Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.