Google Pixelbook -- a premium chromebook experience (1 Viewer)

rockymtnhigh

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In a fit of what I can only describe as insanity, I made the jump tp the newest premium chromebook experience. Yes, I bought a Google Pixelbook. 8gb ram, 128gb SSD, core i5 processor. It’s the Pixelbook’s base model. I drooled over this for a couple weeks, and just took the plunge.

Initial thoughts. When I load a webpage side by side with my 16GB 2015 Macbook Pro, the speed is pretty much identical (if I am running Chrome on the Mac; Safari loads a smidge faster). When I load a page side by side with the Samsung Chromebook plus, I'm already reading before the Samsung has loaded the page. Yeah, it is fast.

With all the power on this, you can have five to ten windows open and it doesn't hiccup, maybe more. AND you can actually run multiple Android apps without crashes. Far more stability and speed on Android apps, which are getting much better than they were a year ago. Take Evernote for example, you used to be limited to a default font size, which was very small on a 12” screen. Now you can control the text size, and can easily resize the app to either a window or full screen. Adobe Lightroom CC is pretty much the same as on the iPad. Microsoft Word and Excel are still the tablet versions, but they run and work fine for light work (I think Google Docs is still the best writing experience on the Chromebook - and the web-based version is more complete and user friendly than the Android App. The New York Times App works great. The Amazon Kindle app is very nice (and not limited like the iOS version is -- you can purchase books from within it. I haven’t bothered with Netflix or Prime Video yet.

The Pixelbook is what Chrome OS aspires to be. Is it over-kill? Yeah, probably, but it is sure is nice running a device that works fast, and can handle everything you throw at it. Is it a Mac or Windows replacement? Depends on the user. I have specialized apps that won’t run on it, and some apps, like say Microsoft Excel, are just easier to use on the mac. For me, it is my travel machine. It is a powerful device that weighs very little, and enables me to do all the work I want when on the road -- or in a coffee shop just writing in a bloat-free environment (I mean, come on, who actually enjoys writing a manuscript in Microsoft Word?). The Pixelbook isn’t the throw away device my first chromebook was, but it is still less than half the cost of my MacBook Pro, which will soon largely just get used at home.

The hardware? The Pixelbook has perhaps the nicest keyboard I have used. On par, maybe better (gasp) than my Macbook Pro). Backlit keys, nice tactile feel. And wide spacing, so I actually can type. I make far less errors than on the Samsung (which also has a very nice, albeit smaller keyboard). The glass trackpad is very nice, and the rubberized side palm rests just feels good. There is NOTHING that feels cheap about this. The screen. Pretty much on par with the Samsung. But a bit too much of a bezel. Kind of feels like 2012 as a result. The rectangular edges, also a bit underwhelming. The Samsung Chromebook Plus has rounded edges that made it look like two iphones being melded together.

In Tablet mode, the Pixelbook is a huge 12” tablet, but it feels bulky compared with the iPad Pro. Indeed, it is. But it is nice to have the 360 degree screen capabilities. Use it as a tent, use the keyboard, flip it into tablet mode. A long long way away from my first hybrid laptop, a Fujitsu Lifebook, circa 2007. That thing WAS a tank. And pretty much sucked at everything. The Pixelbook comes in at 2.4 pounds.

The 128GB SSD is a huge jump over the 32GB of storage on the chromebook plus. BUT there is no micro-USB port. In this way, Google seemed to take a page from the Apple mindset. If you want more storage, buy the more expensive 256GB or 512GB models. BUT those are astronomically expensive. For Chrome OS, 128GB is spacious. This isn’t the machine you store all your photos and music and movies on.

Ports? 2 USB-C ports, and a headphone jack. That’s it. Seems to be the wave of the future, like it or not. The Pixelbook comes with a 45W USB-C charger (a very rectangular brick, that is ONLY usable in the US). Unlike Apple’s which you can swap out a European power plug, this brick is limited. Yet it has very quick fast charging. 10 minutes saw it gain 20% of battery.

The battery? So far, it does not live up to 10 hours. No way, no how. But in early usage I’m pushing it hard, and I’ll get a better feel for that in a week or so.

All in all,the Pixelbook lives up to its premium moniker. Is it perfect? No. Should the “google pen” come with it? Absolutely. (Oh, the pen claims 10ms latency; brief tests show it is on part with the Apple pencil in the few apps that really support it). Is this the Chromebook of the future? Hard to tell. It is far from a $179 11” Acer or other bargain-basement chrome OS offering. I was very happy with the Chromebook Plus, and think it and it’s “Pro” sibling are also very good machines, but for sheer performance, this machine runs circles around them.

I wrote this in google docs on my pixelbook, and then copied and pasted it into SatGuys. As a writing experience, it was quite enjoyable.
 
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EarDemon

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If the Pixelbook had a removable keyboard, I’d have one. Not a fan of the flip over keyboards that’s become so common on 2 in 1s recently. I’d have no use for it as a laptop due to its tiny screen, but that screen size would be perfect for a tablet.

The self-proclaimed and wannabe journalists (bloggers) often put down the first Chromebook Pixel and now the Pixelbook due to the high price tag, combined with seemingly low software expectations. I consider, and in some ways I think Google does to, these devices to be the equivalent of the automotive industry and their halo cars. It’s a way to max out the technology, showcase the technology and sell extremely low volumes at extremely high prices.

I think it’s interesting what Google is doing with having the Play Store on Chromebooks, this allows for more than just so-called apps that are just bookmarks for websites. Maybe in October Google will announce a model with a detachable keyboard as I think the days of a pure Android tablet from Google area dead. And who knows, I may not even like the thing. Never been a fan of tablets, never had a use for them. The only one I really enjoyed using was a Panasonic Toughpad.
 

lparsons21

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I bought one too! I have the previous model too, though haven't used it since I got the Pixel Book. Great box with one very big flaw, a flaw shared with all of Google's Pixel chromebooks. When the warranty expires, you are pretty much screwed if you have a hardware problem. There is nearly zero ways to get one fixed.

Otherwise it live up to the marketing blurbs!
 
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rockymtnhigh

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Didn't realize that about repairs. Sigh... And come to think of it, Best Buy did not even try to sell me a warranty. Oh well, hoping it lasts.
 

rockymtnhigh

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If the Pixelbook had a removable keyboard, I’d have one. Not a fan of the flip over keyboards that’s become so common on 2 in 1s recently. I’d have no use for it as a laptop due to its tiny screen, but that screen size would be perfect for a tablet.

The self-proclaimed and wannabe journalists (bloggers) often put down the first Chromebook Pixel and now the Pixelbook due to the high price tag, combined with seemingly low software expectations. I consider, and in some ways I think Google does to, these devices to be the equivalent of the automotive industry and their halo cars. It’s a way to max out the technology, showcase the technology and sell extremely low volumes at extremely high prices.

I think it’s interesting what Google is doing with having the Play Store on Chromebooks, this allows for more than just so-called apps that are just bookmarks for websites. Maybe in October Google will announce a model with a detachable keyboard as I think the days of a pure Android tablet from Google area dead. And who knows, I may not even like the thing. Never been a fan of tablets, never had a use for them. The only one I really enjoyed using was a Panasonic Toughpad.

I use my iPad Pro all the time. So I do like tablets. But the removable keyboards I have seen have never wowed me. And the keyboard on the Microsoft Surface just feels cheap and like it would not be a good writing experience at all. But yes, the flipped over keyboard on the 2 in 1 is always strange. But I probably use my Chromebook in laptop mode 90% of the time.
 

lparsons21

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I use my iPad Pro all the time. So I do like tablets. But the removable keyboards I have seen have never wowed me. And the keyboard on the Microsoft Surface just feels cheap and like it would not be a good writing experience at all. But yes, the flipped over keyboard on the 2 in 1 is always strange. But I probably use my Chromebook in laptop mode 90% of the time.
Yeah, the keyboard flip does seem strange but it works well. Like you most of the time I use mine in laptop mode.
 

rockymtnhigh

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I've used the pixelbook most of the day, several hours, and still have almost 4 hours left on the battery. It is becoming very clear that this machine could replace ninety percent of what I do on my macbook. The only thing I am really missing is access to iMessage, which I use ALL the time. But otherwise, it's a great machine, and just impressive hardware. When I got the Samsung Chromebook Plus I thought wow, this is cool. BUT the Android apps just crashed far too often. The Pixelbook approaches the issue the way Android hardware manufacturers have done for phones -- let's put a serious amount of firepower under the hood, to compensate for the instabilities and lack of optimization of a lot of Android apps/ and OS. This machine takes a Core i5 processor with 8GB of ram and accomplishes the same. It just seems to take whatever I throw at it, and doesn't crash.
 

rockymtnhigh

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How did I never know that CTL-SHIFT-+ will change resolution on the fly? (for me it is ALT-SHIFT-+ as I have reversed the control keys to be more mac-like.

This is perhaps one of the most useful Chrome OS tools. I find myself constantly changing resolution depending on what I am doing, to give me text size that is easy to read. The fact that it is instantaneous is so nice. And no need to go into settings and hunt for display.
 

king3pj

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Wow! I haven't payed much attention to Chromebooks over the last few years but I have recommended them to family members asking for advice about buying laptops in the past. The family members I recommended them to were not tech savvy and their computing needs really come down to web browsing, email, and very occasionally word processing or candy crush style games. The Chromebooks fit the bill nicely for that since they were cheap, light, and could handle all of their needs.

I had no idea there was a market for premium Chromebooks like this. The Pixelbook looks very nice from a hardware perspective. I would just have a hard time paying $1,000+ for a laptop without a more full featured OS. I would probably be more likely to buy something like a Surface Pro or a Macbook Air if I was looking for something in that price range. For me I guess I still see Chromebooks making the most sense in the budget price range.

I guess I've also fallen out of the laptop market over the last 7-8 years so maybe none of this stuff is supposed to be for me anyways. I have a nice desktop in my home office with dual 24" monitors that I use for both work and gaming. I have shifted the casual web browsing type usage that I always did on laptops in the past to the iPad. I do work from home pretty often but I don't have to work on the road so portability is not a real factor in computers for me these days.
 

rockymtnhigh

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I get it -- I first got a chromebook to be a throw-away machine for travel. Something goes wrong, no big loss. This is NOT a throw away machine. But I have been sitting in a Starbucks working with it the last hour, and it can do almost everything I would be doing on my mac. It is certainly not the same, but the user experience is far from those el-cheapo $200 chromebooks. The addition of Google Play and the fact that most of the major apps now work with it, provide it the same level of power as an android tablet. But with a keyboard and tactile feel that is unlike many other machines. Truly an enjoyable experience. Not perfect, and definitely on the high price end, but I'm very pleased.

I think Google's mind-set is the $999 model is adequate for most people, and as this whole generation of kids who have been using chrome OS in school move on to college, for many, a higher end chromebook like the pixelbook would be a great move. And it is still a lot cheaper than a baseline macbook pro or even the small underpowered mac. The Surface tablets are ok, but damn, that keyboard is pretty lame.
 

king3pj

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I get it -- I first got a chromebook to be a throw-away machine for travel. Something goes wrong, no big loss. This is NOT a throw away machine. But I have been sitting in a Starbucks working with it the last hour, and it can do almost everything I would be doing on my mac. It is certainly not the same, but the user experience is far from those el-cheapo $200 chromebooks. The addition of Google Play and the fact that most of the major apps now work with it, provide it the same level of power as an android tablet. But with a keyboard and tactile feel that is unlike many other machines. Truly an enjoyable experience. Not perfect, and definitely on the high price end, but I'm very pleased.

I think Google's mind-set is the $999 model is adequate for most people, and as this whole generation of kids who have been using chrome OS in school move on to college, for many, a higher end chromebook like the pixelbook would be a great move. And it is still a lot cheaper than a baseline macbook pro or even the small underpowered mac. The Surface tablets are ok, but damn, that keyboard is pretty lame.

Yeah, I could easily see a Chromebook replacing my iPad when it's time to upgrade. It just can't replace a computer for me. For that reason I would be in the $400-$500 price range instead of the $1000 price range. The software I use for work requires Windows so even a Macbook wouldn't be a real option for me. Like I said though, an iPad/laptop would be a casual web browsing device for me, not a work device. For that purpose a Chromebook could make a lot of sense.

Edit: I do also see how a Chromebook could be a work device for a writer or someone who just needs to use the web browser and Microsoft Office/Google Docs for work. I'm not trying to say this wouldn't make a great work/school device for many people. It just wouldn't be up to that task for me.
 
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rockymtnhigh

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Yeah, I could easily see a Chromebook replacing my iPad when it's time to upgrade. It just can't replace a computer for me. For that reason I would be in the $400-$500 price range instead of the $1000 price range. The software I use for work requires Windows so even a Macbook wouldn't be a real option for me. Like I said though, an iPad/laptop would be a casual web browsing device for me, not a work device. For that purpose a Chromebook could make a lot of sense.

Edit: I do also see how a Chromebook could be a work device for a writer or someone who just needs to use the web browser and Microsoft Office/Google Docs for work. I'm not trying to say this wouldn't make a great work/school device for many people. It just wouldn't be up to that task for me.

The Samsung Chromebook Plus is now sub-$400. It isn't as fast as the pixelbook, of course, but it is light, compact, and runs android apps.

Don't get me wrong, I love my iPad Pro. It's a workhorse for me. But for writing, in a less bloated environment, the chromebook has a lot of draw. I actually do a lot in google docs. Keeps me away from Word, yet completely compatible.
 

lparsons21

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If it weren't for a couple of what should be minor considerations, I could switch to a Chromebook completely.

iMessage is at the top of the list. It is just so darned good! And having the ability to use my phone number and call or receive calls on all my Apple gear is great. iMessage could be replaced with a couple of other texting apps, but the fact that it works so well whether it is doing apple to apple texting or SMS just makes it my go to texting app. Using all my other devices to make/receive calls, but I can use either Google Home or Echo products to do that just as easily.

One of the apps I use is for managing my checking and savings accounts. currently I use iCompta which is only on Apple. I used Pocket Money before that bellied up because it was cross platform. Someone new took it over after quite sometime, but I have little confidence in them. I also used MoneyDance which is also cross platform. Biggest problem with MoneyDance is that the cloud save of data is done a bit differently from Apple gear than it is from Windows or Android.

And of course there is the fact that I have a lot of Apple gear that I use on a daily basis. Apple Watch and iPhone. I suppose I could make some shifts and sell off Apple gear but can;'t come up with a compelling reason to do so.
 

king3pj

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If it weren't for a couple of what should be minor considerations, I could switch to a Chromebook completely.

iMessage is at the top of the list. It is just so darned good! And having the ability to use my phone number and call or receive calls on all my Apple gear is great. iMessage could be replaced with a couple of other texting apps, but the fact that it works so well whether it is doing apple to apple texting or SMS just makes it my go to texting app. Using all my other devices to make/receive calls, but I can use either Google Home or Echo products to do that just as easily.

One of the apps I use is for managing my checking and savings accounts. currently I use iCompta which is only on Apple. I used Pocket Money before that bellied up because it was cross platform. Someone new took it over after quite sometime, but I have little confidence in them. I also used MoneyDance which is also cross platform. Biggest problem with MoneyDance is that the cloud save of data is done a bit differently from Apple gear than it is from Windows or Android.

And of course there is the fact that I have a lot of Apple gear that I use on a daily basis. Apple Watch and iPhone. I suppose I could make some shifts and sell off Apple gear but can;'t come up with a compelling reason to do so.

I use an iPhone and iPad on a daily basis myself. All of the computers I use these days at home and at the office run Windows though. I haven't found my Windows computers to be a hindrance to my iOS devices at all. I haven't synced an iPhone to iTunes in a very long time though. Once they made it easy to use iCloud backups to get a new device up and running quickly I never looked back. I haven't even had iTunes installed on my PCs for years. Once I switched from buying music in iTunes at $10+ per album to streaming anything I want from Spotify for $10 per month I didn't see the need anymore.

I will say that I would love to be able to use iMessage on my PCs. It's great to be able to quickly respond to any SMS or iMessage when I get one while I'm doing something on my iPad. I'm sure I would get significantly more use out of that feature if I could use it to respond to messages while I am working.
 

lparsons21

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With my Apple gear I can do iMessage (now called Message) and make and receive phone calls on the computer and all my iOS gear. Really handy as I generally leave the phone in the bedroom when I'm home. Of course when I receive a phone call it gets a bit noisy since the iPad, iPhone and Apple Watch all ring! :)

Google Talk comes close to that on the Chromebook and Android devices, but doesn't receive calls using my normal phone number. I can make it call out from the Chromebook using my number though. Notification is poor in Google Talk though IMO.
 

rockymtnhigh

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If it weren't for a couple of what should be minor considerations, I could switch to a Chromebook completely.

iMessage is at the top of the list. It is just so darned good! And having the ability to use my phone number and call or receive calls on all my Apple gear is great. iMessage could be replaced with a couple of other texting apps, but the fact that it works so well whether it is doing apple to apple texting or SMS just makes it my go to texting app. Using all my other devices to make/receive calls, but I can use either Google Home or Echo products to do that just as easily.

One of the apps I use is for managing my checking and savings accounts. currently I use iCompta which is only on Apple. I used Pocket Money before that bellied up because it was cross platform. Someone new took it over after quite sometime, but I have little confidence in them. I also used MoneyDance which is also cross platform. Biggest problem with MoneyDance is that the cloud save of data is done a bit differently from Apple gear than it is from Windows or Android.

And of course there is the fact that I have a lot of Apple gear that I use on a daily basis. Apple Watch and iPhone. I suppose I could make some shifts and sell off Apple gear but can;'t come up with a compelling reason to do so.

I have all of the same Apple gear: Macbook, iPad Pro, iPhone, Apple Watch. I love Message, and the synchronicity of iCloud. I am hopeful that when Messages is fully in iCloud that the web version will provide access to it, and thus one of my limiting factors on the chromebook would be gone. But I have no plans to dump my Apple Stuff. I view the Chromebook as an alternative, and it provides me with a fun environment I can work in.

As someone who lives and dies by technology, there have been times I have wanted something different. Chrome OS satisfies that itch. And yes, it's not perfect, but it is very good.

I need to check out google talk as my alternative for messaging when I am away and on the chromebook. I use Google Voice to send texts, but its annoying because it changes the number. Still for what I need, it works.

My OS X only apps are really Stata, MaxQDA, and a handful of other research tools. I used to use Devonthink Pro a ton, but have shifted a lot of its functionality to Evernote. The other thing I'll always use the mac for is my photography. BUT that said, I often download photos wirelessly from my Canon to the iPad, and use iOS Lightroom and Photos.

I can see how for some a Chromebook would be a complete solution. For me, it is a great supplement to what I do and provides me with a fun environment to work, with less distractions. And I still can't get over the feel of this Pixelbook keyboard! :)
 

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