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Google Pixelbook Go Review: The Price of Simplicity

There are two great things about the new Google Chromebook – Pixelbook Go. The first is the keyboard, which is a joy to type and yet is extremely quiet. The second is the battery life, which is as good or better than any Intel laptop I have used in recent memory.

These are great things, but there are many good things. It has a simple, unnatural design, good speakers and a solid trackpad. The model I'm testing that has an Intel Core i5 Y-series processor is fast and responsive. Almost everything about this laptop makes me want to recommend it as a Chromebook for initial use, the default for everyone.

Everything, that is, except the price. It starts at $ 649 and the model I'm testing is $ 849. Comparative Chromebooks cost at least a hundred dollars less for such features. So with Pixelbook Go, what do you pay for?


The Pixelbook Go is a beautiful 13.3-inch laptop with an understated, clean design. Or at least the black model I use is understated – eventually it will also come in a color that Google calls "Not Pink", which has a soft pink coating with a bright coral base. It's not much different than a MacBook Pro if you can get one of those in black.

It weighs 2.3 pounds and feels sturdy and reliable thanks to its magnesium chassis. Many Chromebooks have plastic bodies, so part of what you pay with Pixelbook Go is materials. Google has covered this magnesium with a soft paint that is almost like plastic. I can't tell you whether it will break or scratch easily – at least it wasn't during my testing week, but I suspect it will behave quite well.

The whole thing is slightly curved around the edges, and if it wasn't so well made, I'd say it's a prototype – just like it used to be Google hardware. The most noticeable design element is the bottom that rises for grip. The keyboard is illuminated and surrounded by two speakers that are respected, if not impressive, for a laptop of this size.

I mentioned in my first glance to Go that I needed to not get too excited about the keyboard without further testing. Now that I have, I can just say that I love him. My favorite thing is to write from a long frame.

Google took the already excellent Pixelbook keyboard and repeated it a little, making the keys a little quieter. In the past, I've tried keyboards that are silent and usually end up feeling messy, but that's not the case at all. The keys have good travel and good spring resistance. If you like sloppy mechanical keyboards, this is not for you.

The keyboard crash is large but not massive. Google has also done a good job of rejecting the palm. Unlike the Pixelbook, the trackpad on the move does not extend as far as the lower lip of the keyboard, so it is less prone to misspellings.

Unfortunately, Pixelbook Go does not have any biometric type of authentication as a fingerprint sensor or face unlock. Google indicates that you can pair it with an Android phone and use the phone's biometrics to unlock the laptop. The same goes for the lack of LTE options – it's easy to connect to your Pixel phone directly from the system menu.

You can only lift the screen with one finger, but you cannot rotate it fully to place the laptop in tablet or tent mode. As bad as tablet mode is in Chrome OS, I want it to still be an option here, if not just tuning into tent mode for watching movies on the air.

Three of the four Pixelbook Go models come with 1920×1080 LCD touchscreen 16: 9. The bezels at the top and bottom of the screen are large, but the screen itself is very bright and does not raise any complaints. Really, my only problem is this ratio: I'm not a fan. I know not everyone likes the higher 3: 2 ratio of laptops, but even at 16:10 I would feel a little less cramped when surfing websites.

All Pixelbook Go models are without fan because they all use Intel Y-series chips. In fact, Google is using 8th Gen Intel chips instead of something newer. This is partly a cost saving measure, but the truth is I didn't notice any real speed issues. I'm testing the mid-range model with Core i5 and 8GB RAM and I still don't see any real delays.

Battery life is also excellent. I didn't reach Google's claim for 12 hours of use, but I had no problems going through a full eight-hour day. The Pixelbook Go also supports fast charging through any USB-C port and in my test I raised it from zero to 35 percent in 30 minutes. (By the way, Chrome OS still has some drawbacks: its rating remains flawed, by the way.) USB-C ports also handle the usual USB stuff, including video output, but they don't support Thunderbolt 3. [19659026] One of the reasons Pixelbook Go works so well that Google just tried to do less with it than with last year's Pixel Slate tablet. This device introduced itself and sold so poorly that Google ultimately rejected its plans to make more tablets based on Chrome OS and instead made this simple laptop.

You can run Android apps, but I avoided them for the most part. I mainly used Spotify for music. Chrome OS still has a dual application problem – the web version and Android versions of Gmail are both struggling to send me notifications, for example. At the end of the day, I mostly stuck with web applications and their quality is better than you might expect. This year I was super impressed with the Adobe Lightroom web application.

Unfortunately, I can't say whether the low-end, $ 649 Pixelbook Go, which has a Core M3 processor, will perform as well as this one. However, I recently tested several Chromebooks with chips in this line, and as long as they have 8GB of RAM, I had no complaints. Fortunately, even the lowest grade Pixelbook Go includes so much RAM.

There is a $ 999 model that has 16GB of RAM and a $ 1399 model with a 4K screen. You need to be a pretty dedicated, hardcore Chrome OS lover to come anywhere to justify any of these purchases. I feel like they exist simply to give away to Google employees or a handful of people who like to use a Chromebook for Linux.

The big question with Pixelbook Go for me is whether it can justify its price over other Chromebooks. I recently reviewed half a dozen of them for our best article on Chromebooks and found that everything in the $ 500-600 range is amazingly similar. One of them stood out for its screen and build quality, the Asus Chromebook Flip C434.

To this text, the C434 with almost identical features to the basic Pixelbook Go costs $ 599, $ 50 less than the Pixelbook (however, Google Chromebook prices vary widely). The C434 also has an all-metal design, its bezel-less screen can be flipped and has a microSD card slot and a standard USB-A port.

The Pixelbook Go weighs less and gets a slightly better battery life, but what you really pay for with that extra $ 50 is generally a more elegantly designed laptop. This definitely costs $ 50 for many people, but to give up the extra ports and the ability to switch to tablet mode seems like a bad trade.

The simplicity of the product design is mostly good, but for Pixelbook Go it means less. ports and fewer ways to use the screen. Nor is it a deal breaker and all the things that I think I like about using the Pixelbook more than the C434, but that doesn't make it a better machine.

If you're in the market for a Chromebook and happen to find a Pixelbook Go for sale, definitely give it an extra look. But at full price you have to ask yourself how much simplicity costs you.

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