Review of the Google Pixelbook Go

The Google Pixelbook Go is a well-built and elegant ultraportable, however it is somewhat more expensive than most of its Chromebook peers.

PROS

  • The styling is elegant.
  • The body is made of a magnesium alloy.
  • High-definition (1080p) camera.
  • The audio output is excellent.
  • Long-lasting battery.

CONS

  • For a Chromebook, it’s quite pricey.
  • There is no support for a digital stylus.

GOOGLE PIXELBOOK GO SPECS

Laptop ClassChromebook
ProcessorIntel Core i5-8200Y
Processor Speed1.3 GHz
RAM (as Tested)8 GB
Boot Drive TypeSSD
Boot Drive Capacity (as Tested)256 GB
Screen Size13.3 inches
Native Display Resolution1920 by 1080
Touch ScreenYes
Panel TechnologyIPS
Variable Refresh SupportNone
Screen Refresh Rate60 Hz
Graphics ProcessorIntel UHD Graphics 615
Wireless NetworkingBluetooth, 802.11ac
Dimensions (HWD)0.5 by 8.1 by 12.2 inches
Weight2.3 lbs
Operating SystemGoogle Chrome OS
Tested Battery Life (Hours: Minutes)18:54
Review of the Google Pixelbook Go
Amazon

The Google Pixelbook Go is a well-designed Chromebook that offers the latest way to experience the Chrome OS in a sleek, relatively powerful, and well-built notebook. It’s a little less expensive than the Google Pixelbook, which is now the most expensive Chromebook. It starts at $649 ($849 as tested). It is, however, significantly more expensive than most other Chromebooks, and it has the same software limitations. It’s a great alternative if Chrome OS is your preferred operating system or if you can locate a Pixelbook Go at a good price. Otherwise, for a comparable price, try a more capable Windows ultraportable laptop.

Cheerful, Not Low-cost

Review of the Google Pixelbook Go
Amazon

The Pixelbook Go, like the Pixelbook, is significantly more appealing than any laptop-style Chromebook I’ve seen. The Pixelbook Go is encased in a magnesium alloy and boasts a ribbed bottom that looks unusual, feels amazing, and makes the laptop easy to grip securely. It’s available in two tongue-in-cheek color selections (“Just Black” and “Not Pink,” which is basically off-white).

The Pixelbook Go has more whimsy than the Pixelbook, which is a sleek premium ultraportable Chromebook designed to compete with the Apple MacBook Air. Perhaps it’s a comment to the situation of the Chromebook market, which has exploded in popularity in K-12 classrooms but has yet to catch on with consumers looking to spend $500 or more on a laptop. Part of the reason behind this is because many people regard Chromebooks as “cheap and cheerful” laptops, rather than serious laptops worthy of a considerable investment. Instead of being inexpensive, the Pixelbook Go aims to debunk this stigma by being joyful, but also capable and clever.

It is usually successful. The color naming standards reveal everything you need to know about the odd atmosphere it exudes at first glance. When you spot the Just Black version on a table, it’s more edgy than corporate-looking, especially with this color palette.

The capable and complex elements become obvious when you hold it in your hands for the first time. It’s clear right away that this isn’t your typical $399 Chromebook. There’s a huge, accurate touchpad, and there’s no squeaky plastic or flex in the screen. Corning’s Concore Glass, in fact, incorporates a strengthening technique within the display glass rather than placing it as an additional layer on top like Gorilla Glass does. As a result, the screen is more damage-resistant and less complex, yet it may be more difficult and expensive to replace if it does break.

Review of the Google Pixelbook Go
Amazon

Despite its sturdy construction, the Pixelbook Go is quite light. It weighs 2.3 pounds and has dimensions of 0.5 by 8.1 by 12.2 inches (HWD), which are quite competitive for a 13.3-inch ultraportable. Compare them to the MacBook Air (0.6 by 8.4 by 12 inches, 2.75 pounds) and the Pixelbook (0.6 by 8.4 by 12 inches, 2.75 pounds) (0.4 by 11.4 by 8.7 inches, 2.46 pounds).

Aside from the weight-saving glass design, the Pixelbook Go‘s small weight is due to the fact that it doesn’t require much space to cool powerful, heat-generating components. The Intel Core i5-8200Y CPU in my review model is a dual-core processor that uses only 7 watts of power, compared to the 15-watt CPUs found in today’s small laptops. The base model has an Intel Core m3 processor, while the top option has an Intel Core i7 processor. There are also memory variants of 8GB or 16GB, as well as solid-state storage options of 64GB, 128GB, or 256GB.

A Pixelbook Go in the highest configuration will put you back $1,400. That’s a lot of money to spend on a Chromebook, and it’s definitely overkill in terms of CPU, memory, and storage if you’re just making presentations, writing reports, and surfing the web. The only reason you’d want the top-end Pixelbook Go, in my opinion, is for its 4K (3,840-by-2,160-pixel) display. All of the other variants, including the one I tested, have a lower resolution display of 1080p (1,920-by-1,080-pixels), which is plainly inferior to Apple’s Retina Display or Microsoft’s PixelSense display found on its Surface laptops and tablets.

Digital stylus input is not supported by either of the Pixelbook Go’s display configurations. If you plan to doodle or write on the screen, the Pixelbook may be a better option because it supports the optional $99 Pixelbook Pen. If you’re a typist, the Pixelbook Go‘s ultra-quiet key switches will come in handy, but the keys’ uncomfortably short travel distance will be a disappointment.

Residing With Chrome OS

Review of the Google Pixelbook Go
Amazon

Using the Pixelbook Go, like any Chromebook, is a study in compromises. From the Docs word processor to the Google Assistant for voice questions, you’ll have access to all of the Google software products you’re familiar to. Many of the same third-party programs and services that you’d find on a phone, PC, or Mac, such as Dropbox, Adobe Acrobat Reader, and Microsoft Office, will be available. You may even use a browser other than Google Chrome; I installed the Android versions of Mozilla Firefox and Opera from the Google Play Store. In fact, the Pixelbook Go can run most Android apps from the Play Store.

However, I was unable to utilize the Pixelbook Go as my primary laptop due to various Chrome flaws. There’s no way to connect to my company’s VPN using Chrome OS, and many in-flight video-streaming services don’t work because they require DRM software that isn’t compatible with Chrome OS. (PCMag’s benchmarking program for testing PCs and Macs is also incompatible with Chrome OS, but that’s a much more internal issue.) Other problems are more minor, such as the fact that it took over a minute for the Pixelbook Go to recognize my external hard drive, compared to the seconds it usually takes on a Mac or PC.

Review of the Google Pixelbook Go
Amazon

Many of these issues are common on Chromebooks in general, not just the Pixelbook Go. They’re especially pertinent to the Pixelbook Go because its high price makes living with it more difficult to justify. I can get a comparably equipped, base-model HP Spectre x360 13 with stylish aesthetics, a fingerprint sensor, superior software compatibility, the ability to transform into a tablet, and digital stylus support for just a few dollars more than the $849 pricing of my Pixelbook Go evaluation unit.

Other issues with the Pixelbook Go are shared by many other ultraportable notebooks running Chrome OS, Windows 10, or macOS. One of the most significant is a lack of input/output ports. You’ll need adapters or special cables to connect to an external display or a peripheral that uses a USB Type-A connector because there are only two oval-shaped USB Type-C ports and an audio jack. If you’re like many Chromebook users, you store everything in the cloud and use Google Cast to connect to screens and TVs wirelessly. All you’ll need is 802.11ac Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.2 wireless connectivity in that instance. However, the emerging next-generation 802.11ax Wi-Fi (Wi-Fi 6) isn’t available.

Because of its 1080p resolution, the Pixelbook Go‘s camera is much superior than that of most other ultraportable laptops. (Most laptop cameras can only record video in 720p.) This translates to considerably superior videoconferencing quality—during my testing in a brilliantly lighted office, the picture was free of graininess, something that even far more costly laptops couldn’t do. This is a feature that parents buying a Pixelbook Go for their college-bound son or daughter will enjoy.

The audio quality on the Pixelbook Go is likewise great, especially considering its low weight. Instead of being on the bottom of the laptop like on most other ultraportables, the stereo speaker grilles surround the keyboard. During my testing, this resulted in solid, clear sound even at the highest volume setting.

A Speedy Chromebook

Review of the Google Pixelbook Go
Amazon

Because our standard benchmarking software doesn’t operate on Chrome OS, I tested the Pixelbook Go‘s performance on a more casual basis over the course of a few days. When I first started on the system, it went through a firmware update, which took only a few minutes rather than the hour or more that big Windows and macOS updates can take. After being updated, the Pixelbook Go was extremely quick to boot up (13 seconds from pressing the power button to seeing the login screen) and install apps.

On a Chromebook, most tasks are completed in the web browser, which was absolutely true for the Google Docs editing and web browsing I did on the Pixelbook Go. Using standalone apps, on the other hand, is more challenging. This is especially true in the gaming industry. Some Android games, such as Battle of Polytopia, might install but not launch. Others, such as Mario Kart Tour, were able to successfully install and run their phone-optimized versions, but the result was enormous black spots on the screen. Google claims to be working with third-party developers to ensure that their Android apps run smoothly on Chrome OS, but the effort is clearly still ongoing. It’s worth noting that many games necessitate the installation of the Google Play Games app. (It isn’t by default.)

I also ran the WebXPRT and CrXPRT benchmarks, which are used to compare Chromebook performance. CrXPRT is a downloaded app from the Google Play store, whereas WebXPRT is a browser-based test. Both assess the same types of popular productivity tasks and assign ratings based on software and hardware capabilities.

The Pixelbook Go’s scores had been standard for its class of high-end Chromebooks, which incorporates fashions just like the Acer Chromebook 714 and Lenovo Yoga Chromebook C630 along with steeds from Google’s personal steady. Much less-expensive Chromebooks carry out far worse—round 200 on WebXPRT and 100 on CrXPRT.

Endurance Runner

Review of the Google Pixelbook Go
Amazon

The Pixelbook Go is a wonderful choice for a laptop to accompany you on your next flight, or even just a day of meetings with no chance to visit a power outlet, as it lasted more than 16 hours on our battery depletion test.

Because we’re looping a locally stored movie file with the screen at 50% brightness, our battery life test is rather gentle. As a result, it’s a lot better than the Pixelbook Go‘s advertised battery life of 12 hours. Turning off Wi-Fi when watching downloaded films, on the other hand, will almost certainly improve your results. With Wi-Fi switched off, I got 18 hours and 54 minutes on our battery rundown test.

The Pixelbook Go’s battery isn’t the only thing that lasts a long time. If the Pixelbook, which is still available for purchase, is any indicator, Google is committed to the concept of a premium Chromebook. The Pixelbook Go is the most recent move in this direction, and it’s an unquestionably good piece of hardware. The Pixelbook Go will serve you well if money isn’t an issue and you’re as committed to Chrome OS as Google is. Otherwise, a comparable priced Windows laptop or a cheap-and-cheerful $399 Chromebook are both better options.

Prices pulled from the Amazon Product Advertising API on:

Product prices and availability are accurate as of the date/time indicated and are subject to change. Any price and availability information displayed on [relevant Amazon Site(s), as applicable] at the time of purchase will apply to the purchase of this product.


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