Pixelbook Go is Google’s first reasonably priced Chromebook

Google used its annual Made by Google event to announce, among other things, the Pixelbook Go. This is Google’s latest Chromebook and Google is pitching the device as a “reasonably priced” Chromebook.
Pixelbook Go
Pixelbook Go Photo: Google

So is it any good?

It’s a vast improvement on the Pixelbook that Google launched at the 2017 Made by Google event. The screen is larger and there’s a 4K screen option. It’s also lighter so it’s easier to carry around, and the keyboard and touchpad have been improved.

Pixelbook Go keyboard
Pixelbook Go keyboard Photo: Google

The battery life is good, too. The claimed 12-hour battery life should last you all day but even if you start to run out of power towards the end of the day a 20 minute top-up charge should buy you a couple of extra hours.

And it’s flexible. You can use it as a laptop, or you can take advantage of the 360-degree hinge to use it as a tablet, or use it in tent mode to watch films or other content.

Performance

The entry level model comes with Intel’s 8th Gen Core M3 processor, 8GB of RAM and 64GB of storage.

When you think about those specifications, they’re not great. If you’re reading this on a smartphone it’s quite possible that your smartphone is at least as powerful.

But when you think about that further, maybe the specifications don’t actually matter. The point of a Chromebook is that it’s basically Google’s Chrome web browser with a keyboard attached. Think “thin client”. All of the processing is being done by Google and all the Chromebook needs to do is act as an interface.

Google Stadia means that you might not even need high-performance processors for gaming because again, all of the processing is being done at Google’s end.

Chromebook limitations

Chromebooks haven’t really gained the popularity that Google hoped they would when the concept was first announced in 2011 because they do come with a number of limitations.

The main problem when they were first launched was the fact that they rely on an Internet connection most of the time. That’s not so much of an issue now there’s WiFi almost everywhere, but it’s a consideration.

The other problem is the fact that you’re tied into Google’s ecosystem. If you’re an Android fan that won’t be a problem, but if you’re an Apple user it might not be the same story.

You need to remember that you’re tied to Google apps, though. It’s possible to run some Linux-based apps but you won’t be running Windows apps on a Chromebook.

The upside

Pixelbook Go family
Pixelbook Go family Photo: Google

It’s easy to see the downsides, but actually, Chromebooks have a few advantages over laptops.

First, you don’t need to update a Chromebook. Ever. Because all of the processing is done on Google’s server, the updates happen there rather than locally. That means that they’re more secure.

Second, all of your data and apps are backed up. If you lose your Chromebook, all you need to do is buy a replacement and when you log back in, everything will be there for you.

And although you’re limited to Google’s apps, Google does have an app for pretty much anything you can imagine so that’s not too much of a limitation.

How much will the Pixelbook Go cost?

This is the problem with the Pixelbook Go. The starting point for the entry level model is £629 and that sort of money buys you a fairly decent Windows 10 laptop.

Jump up to the Intel i7 variant with 16GB of RAM, 256GB of storage and a 4K display and that price leaps to £1,329. That sort of money isn’t far off what you’d need to spend to get a MacBook Air with similar specifications.

Google’s idea of “reasonable priced” might not be realistic. The Pixelbook Go Chromebook looks to be a great device, but its pricing could well mean that it doesn’t achieve the success that Google hopes it will.

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