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A second-gen Pixelbook will need more than just thinner bezels

Rumors suggest Google may release a second-gen Pixelbook this year with "smaller bezels," but it might need a bigger improvement if it's to succeed.

Published onJuly 23, 2018

An image of the Google PIxelbook.
  • Leaker Evan Blass tweets that Google will be releasing a second-gen Pixelbook this fall with “smaller bezels.”
  • The second Pixelbook might need some design and software changes, not just a slightly tweaked display, to be successful, however.
  • You probably shouldn’t expect the second Pixelbook to have less than a $1000 price tag like the first generation device.

Chrome OS has come a long way over the last several years and nowhere is this more noticeable than when using the operating system on Google’s $1,000 Pixelbook. Tied together with premium hardware and high-quality specs, Google’s Chromebook could be considered one of the best laptops on the market — and it might be getting a sequel.

Leaker Evan Blass tweeted yesterday speculation that Google would be releasing a second-gen Pixelbook this fall. While Blass was light on details, he did state that the updated Chromebook would be announced at the search giant’s fall hardware event alongside the Pixel 3, would have thinner bezels, and would be for sale before the end of the year.

Add to this fall hardware lineup a second-generation Pixelbook, with smaller bezels, scheduled to ship before the end of the year.
— Evan Blass (@evleaks) July 22, 2018
But before Google does release a follow-up Chromebook to last year’s machine, several changes should probably be made other than slimming down the bezels.

An included stylus

To go along with the latest trend of writing and drawing on a computer screen in tablet mode, Google released a stylus dubbed the Pixelbook Pen to go along with its Chromebook. But to get ahold of the accessory, customers have to spend an additional $99 on top of the $1,000+ they already spent on the Pixelbook.

Although Google doesn’t release sales numbers, I’d guess the company sold far fewer Pixelbook Pens than actual Pixelbooks. Of course, not everyone needs a stylus, but when Google puts a $99 price tag on an accessory that doesn’t have many use cases, no one should be surprised if hardly any sold.

If Google wants second-gen Pixelbook owners to use a stylus while interacting with Chrome OS and third-party apps, the company should include the Pixelbook Pen in the retail packaging. Google doesn’t necessarily need to build the Pen into the Pixelbook as Samsung did with the Chromebook Plus and Pro, but bundling it with the machine would be another reason for consumers to buy the computer.

Better Bluetooth performance

If you’ve ever owned the Pixelbook or if you follow me on Twitter, you should know that Bluetooth on the Chromebook simply sucks. Not only does the computer like to disconnect and forget connected devices, the entire Bluetooth radio sometimes turns itself off and won’t turn back on until the Pixelbook is restarted.

As detailed by XDA-Developers, most of these problems stem from the Bluetooth stack that Chrome OS uses. Thankfully, it appears that Google is giving this stack a complete overhaul and building something much better for Chromebooks.

As made overly clear by Google’s responses to my complaints, the company is aware of the problem and has been working on a fix. But since we’re nearing the Pixelbook’s one year anniversary and nothing has been done about the Bluetooth problems, I don’t think a second-gen device should be sold or bought until everything is in working order.

Revamped palm rests

Going back to the Pixelbook’s hardware, the Chromebook has a metal build with and with white rubber accents. Some of these rubber pieces are also used as palm rests and make using the Pixelbook quite comfortable.

Unfortunately, because of the type of material and color choice, the rubber picks up grime from your hands and begins to stain in a matter of weeks. This doesn’t hurt the Pixelbook at all, but it takes away from the beauty of the machine. To fix this, Google needs to either find a more stain-resistant rubber material or go with something completely different.

The same design change should probably also be made to the rubber pads on the bottom side of the Pixelbook too. While your hands won’t be making the underside dirty, the Chromebook does pick up color from blue jeans and other surfaces that it’s placed onto. Alcohol wipes and other cleaning materials help initially, but at some point, the stain sets in and leaves the rubber looking gray and unappealing.

The price

Lastly, we have to talk about the cost of the Pixelbook. When most regular consumers think of Chromebooks, they think of budget machines that aren’t that powerful but get the job done. But with the Pixelbook, Google packs in 8 or 16 GB of RAM, an Intel Core i5 or i7 CPU, and a 128, 256, or 512GB SSD. Because of these premium specs, the Chromebook has an expensive price tag.

So with the second-gen Pixelbook, Google can probably go one of two ways: They can either include a lower specced model with a slower CPU, less RAM, and a smaller SSD for less money or the company can keep doing what they’re currently doing and reserve the Pixelbook for those who are willing to pay the high price.

Google Pixelbook review: is it worth $999 now?

Looking at Google’s history of building premium hardware and letting other companies sell more budget-friendly devices, it’s pretty likely they’ll choose the second option. Having the Pixelbook allows Google to show the world exactly what’s possible with Chrome OS and the high price tag proves that it’s a premium product. Because of this, it is highly unlikely that the second-gen Pixelbook will be a penny under $1,000.

Read Next: Google Pixelbook review: is it worth $999 now?

What are your thoughts on a second-gen Pixelbook? What other changes or fixes would you want to see before you bought such an expensive Chromebook? Let us know in the comment section below.

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