So the Google Pixelbook is the most elegant expression of what a Chromebook could be. There are dozens of review on the internet extolling the wondrous virtues of the device. I think it is a fantastic device for the right user because it is fast, hassle-free and as secure as a mobile computing device can be.
Instead of just writing another copycat article about the positives, I wanted to share some of the less than perfect elements of the device. To ensure you can make an educated decision.
I love the Google Assistant and was excited when Google added it to the Pixelbook. The problem is that the activation hot words only work when the device is on and the screen is on. If the device is idle and "sleeps", you will have to manually wake it up before you can trigger the Google Assistant. Consumers have come to expect always-on assistants (think Google home and Google Pixel 2 smartphone are always listening).
I am a Google GSuite user and expected the Google Assitant (at least on their premium laptop replacement device) to integrate better for their business users. As an example, it won't be able to read you your agenda.
The Pixelbook pen is a great concept but your experience will depend greatly on the apps you are using. Google claims that the Pixelbook Pen API uses a low latency model that should deliver 10ms response times and this is true in certain apps like Google Keep. In Google Keep, using the pen feels akin to writing on paper. In apps like Adobe Draw or Microsoft OneNote, you definitely feel the latency. The latency is so bad that it makes the experience almost unusable.
Android apps on ChromeOS
With the launch of the Pixelbook, Google finally graduated Android apps on ChromeOS out of beta. This is a push we have seen from Google for many months and they want to encourage ChromeOS (Chromebook) users to leverage the millions of Android apps to make the Chromebook the prefered mobile platform.
Some companies (like Adobe) have worked with Google to make their Android app Chromebook aware and thus using Lightroom on it is actually a great experience. It is fast, fluid and very functionally complete.
Other apps are the polar opposite. With these less than optimal apps, you will experience:
- incorrect app orientation
- the app does not use the full-screen real estate
- app performance is sometimes erratic and will crash for no discernible reason
The Pixelbook is a beautifully crafted device that works relatively well. If the device had been a couple of hundred dollars less, I could easily overlook everything written here, but at $US999, my expectations are slightly higher.
I think the Pen is still a beta experience and they should really provide one for free with each Pixelbook. More customers using the Pen means more telemetry and better design cues for v2 next year. I cannot recommend the $US99 pen right now. The Pixelbook pen is nothing more than a gimmick right now.