Google’s previous Chromebook Pixels were pretty mixed bags. The original launched in 2013 for $1299 and its successor for $999. The hardware was definitely worth the cash, but the software wasn’t.
Chrome OS was a glorified browser, which made the laptop inconvenient (or nearly impossible) to use for those who required specialized software. But times have changed and so have Chromebooks. The newest model is piggybacking on Android’s ample app portfolio, making the software struggle much more bearable. On top of that the lineup has undergone a complete re-branding and redesign. Throw in a shiny stylus and you have a whole new concept to show Chrome OS fans.
Are these changes enough to validate spending $999 on the Google Pixelbook though? We’ve spent the last two weeks putting the new Chrome OS 2-in-1 through its paces, so let’s jump in.
It all starts with the display
Love at first sight exists — when it comes to fancy tech, at least. It’s why we can stand in store aisles for hours, staring at fancy 4K content that seems to look better than real life. Screen quality can make or break your experience. It’s what you look at the whole time you use your computer.
Google never skimps on its Chromebook displays, and the Pixelbook is no exception. It touts a 12.3-inch panel with a 2400 x 1600 resolution and 400 nits of brightness; bright enough to work comfortably in direct sunlight. The screen can create a lot of glare, though.
The screen got smaller, but so did the laptop. It’s now more portable. The PPI decreased too, from 239 to 235, but the difference is unnoticeable.
All in all, the screen is very good. It is bright and vibrant, and the colors aren’t over saturated. Text and images look crisp. The only real complaint with the screen is that it has very large bezels (more on that later).
Stunning build quality and a 2-in-1 design to fit every need
Chromebooks made by Google are known for their outstanding build quality. It’s part of why they’re so expensive. The search giant has done it again, delivering an amazingly-built laptop you won’t be ashamed to show off on your coffee shop adventures.
The Pixelbook has an aluminum body, with silicone padding surrounding a glass trackpad. On the lid behind the screen you can also find a Pixel-like glass element, which contrasts very nicely against the otherwise metallic surface. Overall it is a stunning device and nothing ever feels anything short of premium.
At first I was a little hesitant about the silicone areas, but they’re actually more comfortable than cold metal, which can become warm and sweaty after typing. The only bad news is white silicone gets dirty and stains quickly. My unit already has red accents in the corners — from what, I will never know.
The bezels are pretty large compared to what we are used to seeing in other premium laptops, but they’re there for a reason.