Today I am going to enlighten you on the Pixelbook from mid to late 2017. There are a lot of good reviews on this device, but I would like to clear some things up. I feel some of the reviews out there are a tad misleading, not necessarily intentionally so, I just don’t feel they are looking at the bigger picture about what this product is, or what it isn’t. So, I’d like to kind of clear things up. Let’s go through the hardware first.
The hardware is fantastic. Everything that you’ve heard and read about how good the hardware is, is exactly that. It’s literally the best-built Chromebook available on the market. It’s expensive at $1,000, but it is really good.
The keyboard is excellent, it’s backlit and way better than most Chromebooks. I could even say that it’s better than a lot of regular laptops too. The trackpad is also pretty good and built really well with great materials and good button mechanics; however, there is a little stuttering in the Chrome OS. The white rubber pads for your wrists are nice. They are fairly resistant to dirt and any kind of staining and are positioned all over the device to kind of protect it when you have it closed.
The tablet mode is less awesome. It’s not super bad, it’s just not as comfortable as I’d like my tablet to be. The keyboard is on the bottom, so you kind of touch that every time you use it and it’s thicker and heavier than a dedicated tablet would be. The thing is though, any kind of 2-in-1 device foldable device is going to feel like this. Bottom line, as a tablet, it’s not bad. One thing you may have noticed is that you can’t run this tablet in split-screen mode, everything is on full screen.
There is an optional stylus called the Pixelbook Pen, and it basically works as intended. The lag is very minimal, as long as the apps have been updated. It’s a good stylus, as you’d expect, but there’s this feature where you can circle things in Chrome and Google will search for it, which kind of feels gimmicky because the accuracy just isn’t there. For whatever reason, it’s just pulling up stuff that’s the only kind of related to what was circled.
Performance is good. It is running some 7th generation Intel chips as a Chromebook. I feel like the average person that is going to be using this Pixelbook, probably isn’t going to be able to tax it all that hard, and the battery life is just OK. It’s good, I just expected it to be better considering how low demand this entire system is. I was getting about 8 hours of life.
I now want to talk about the operating system and Chrome OS is probably where this whole thing starts to break down. I like Chrome OS, I think it’s a great system. A lot of people call it a limited operating system. I disagree and I think “limited” is just the wrong word. I would approach it as just a different way of using a computer.
A lot of people out there can use Chrome OS perfectly and just get through everything that they need to do, and they don’t even realize it. They tend to think they need MacOS or Windows to do what they do, but, they don’t. Most people can actually do what they need to do with Chrome OS. However, the problem, as I see it, is the price tag and this is where I think it begins to break apart. This Chrome OS laptop comes in at $1,000.
If you look at the price of any competitor product like a 12″ MacBook, a MacBook Air, XPS 13, Razer Blade Stealth, an iPad Pro, all of these can do what a Chromebook does, and more, much more. That’s why this product is so hard to recommend to people. I think it’s a good product. I think it’s good for what it is, but it should be priced more along the lines of $700-$800.
A while back ago we did a piece on the Asus Chromebook that was the best at the time (early 2017) and it was a $500 Chromebook. Even that device was getting up there in the price range because anyone knows they can pick up Chromebooks for $200-$300, so why would a $500 one be justifiable? Just like the $500 Chromebook, you need to be able to justify a $1,000 one for sure.
You need to be able to use this and prefer it over any of the aforementioned devices. I don’t think for most people that is the case, I don’t feel that it’s justifiable above the others. If you want better battery life, there are other options. if you want the ability to play games, there are other options. There is just so much versatility of other choices over this. Even the iPad Pro can do more than this can for the average person. I am not saying this isn’t’ a good device, because, in reality, it’s a great device, it’s just overpriced.
Four or five years ago when the original Chromebook Pixel came out it was really impressive because the hardware looked so amazing for its time. However, these days, everybody who has a hand in the laptop industry is making really good hardware. Dell has good stuff. HP, Razer, there is so much good hardware to choose from, that it’s difficult for this thing to stand out just on hardware alone. I feel that so many reviews out there were so impressed by the hardware that they completely overlooked the user experience. It really doesn’t have the versatility that a $1,000 device should have.