Google Pixelbook is a touchscreen Chromebook with a stylus and a ton of storage
The Google Chromebook just went to the next level.
In a hardware-filled event, Google announced Wednesday a new high-end Chromebook called the Pixelbook (just as was rumored). Similar to the two generations of Chromebook Pixel laptops that Google began shipping in 2013, the Pixelbook defies Chromebook orthodoxy by boasting serious specs… and an even more serious price tag, starting at $999.
You get some nice perks for that price tag, though. For starters, the Pixelbook has a touchscreen, and now that Android apps run on Chromebooks, there’s lots to do with it. It also packs an Intel Core i5 or i7 chip as well as up to 16GB of RAM (8GB on the Core i5 models), which is serious power for a Chromebook.
The Pixelbook is 0.39 of an inch thick and weighs just 2.2 pounds. The screen is Quad HD (2,460 x 1,440) and the keyboard is backlit. The battery is rated for 10 hours of use, and it supports fast charging via its USB-C port — 15 minutes of charge gets you two hours of use.
Google is introducing a feature called Instant Tethering: If there’s no Wi-Fi and you have a Google Pixel phone, it’ll tether to the phone automatically. No word on whether other Android phones or iPhones will ever be able to use the feature.
Google says the Pixelbook is the first Chromebook with Google Assistant built in. The device can respond to voice commands like requests to play specific YouTube videos or Google searches. You can also interact with the Assistant by typing, and you can get instant access via the new dedicated key on the keyboard (in the same place as the Windows key on PCs).
Then there’s the stylus, the PixelBook Pen. The Pixelbook includes a digital pen in the box, letting you draw or write directly on the touchscreen. It also works with Google Assistant, letting you mark things like photos or formulas to get instant information about them. Google says it worked with Wacom to create the Pen, and it boasts just 10 ms of latency, 60 degrees of “angular awareness,” and 2,000 levels of pressure sensitivity.
To help with drawing, the hinge of the laptop can fold all the way around, a complete 360 degrees, so you can prop up the display like an easel.
The Pixelbook is far from the first laptop to offer a 360 hinge or a stylus; it’s not even the first Chromebook to do so — that would be the Samsung Chromebook Plus.
One first the Pixelbook can boast, however, is being the first laptop to run Snapchat. At least that’s what Google promised, saying it was working with Snap to bring Snapchat to the Pixelbook. It didn’t say whether the app would also come to other Chromebooks.
The Pixelbook is also the first Chromebook from Google to include more than 64GB of RAM. Storage for the $999 Core i5 base model is 128GB, but for a premium you can get 256GB (Core i5, $1,199) or 512GB (Core i7, $1,649), showing that Google recognizes the use cases (like video editing or artwork) for a high-end device would mean more “local” computing, as opposed to doing everything through the cloud. The Pixelbook Pen is a $99 option.
Given the price, specs, and stylus, it appears Google is positioning the Pixelbook as a competitor to Apple’s iPad Pro and Microsoft’s Surface Pro — a premium device aimed at creative professionals who demand a lot from their primary computer. As a piece of hardware, it seems to have the chops, though the question with Chrome OS has always been its ability to run desktop-caliber apps (Android helps a little) and its near-total dependence on good connectivity. If Google has credible answers for those concerns, it could really have something here. Or at least a ludicrous machine for watching YouTube videos.