Google Pixelbook Review Roundup: A Great Yet Highly Overpriced Chromebook
In addition to its new Pixel 2 devices this year, plus updated iterations of its Google Home smart speaker, the Google Pixelbook signals that Google has become very serious about hardware. It's no longer a test-the-water thing for the search company — praise for the original Pixel and past Chromebooks prove that there's tappable clamor for its products.
The funny thing is most people buy Google hardware because of Google software: the Pixel devices have the best implementation of Android; Google Home has Assistant built-in; Chromebooks offer the best of various Google services integrated into the relatively limited but simple-to-use Chrome OS.
But the company's latest Chromebook costs $1,000, meaning customers who buy one are no longer buying it just for the software. They're essentially purchasing a premium device. As several reviews point out, the problem is that Chrome OS doesn't really feel like it deserves premium hardware yet.
So what are the critics saying about the Google Pixelbook? Find out below.
Google Pixelbook: Too Expensive?
9to5Mac gave it a glowing review, saying it's "amazing," not to mention "a great laptop and an even better Chromebook." But is it worth $1,000?
"I still can't see myself ever shelling out that much cash for a limited machine," wrote 9to5Mac.
"There's a lot that's good about the Pixelbook and Google knocked it out of the park, but even as capable as Chrome OS has become, it's still hard to sell anyone on a super expensive machine that functionally can't do half of what others in its price range can."
Google Pixelbook: The Problem With Its Software
VentureBeat echoes similar sentiments, saying the Google Pixelbook shines in terms of hardware but that its software still feels a little hampered and limited.
"While the operating system has grown a lot, it still doesn't have all the apps and services that a user might want, which might dissuade someone before they even get their hands on a Pixelbook," wrote VentureBeat.
"The bottom line is this: If the concept of the best Chromebook on the market is appealing to you, you'll appreciate this hardware. Everyone else will have to wade through the muddier nuances of the Pixelbook's challenges."
Google Pixelbook: Amazing Hardware, So-So Software
Time felt similarly about the Chromebook, praising its gorgeous lightweight design, performance, and comfortable keyboard but penalizing it for being expensive and the fact that not all Android apps are customized to run on Chrome OS yet.
"The Pixelbook's best quality is its lightweight, attractive, and easily-portable design," wrote Time, which also pointed out even more positives, such as the device's rotatable hinge, excellent touchscreen, and built-in Google Assistant.
"[T]he software still falls short in some areas making it hard to justify the $999 price. If Android is going to be a big part of the Chromebook's future, Google needs to urge developers to refine that experience," wrote Time, giving it three and a half stars out of five.
Google Pixelbook: Who Is This Machine For?
In its review, The Verge tried to contemplate on who the new Google Pixelbook is for. Is it for the PC user, despite the fact that they can already get a more-than-decent Windows 10 laptop at that price range? Or is it for the Mac lover, who can get an older but still serviceable MacBook at the same cost as Google's new machine?
"The answers to all of those questions depend entirely on something that's different for everybody: what do you do when you really push your computer?" wrote The Verge, adding that some use computers for heavy editing, some for light browsing, some for photography, some for gaming.
Because the Google Pixelbook is powered by Chrome OS, it's not meant for a power user. It can't handle sophisticated editing programs and run CPU and GPU-extensive games. So despite being a laptop, The Verge found it more accurate to compare it with the iPad Pro.
"[T]he iPad Pro has better apps, is a tablet-first device, and has a worse web browser. The Pixelbook has worse apps, is a laptop-first device, and has a better web browser."
Google Pixelbook: Still A Limited Device
Ars Technica gave it a somewhat positive review, praising its modern design, keyboard, Google Assistant integration, and ability to run Android apps. But it also wasted no time laying down all its negatives, including limitations of voice commands and Android apps, plus its steep asking price.
"Chrome OS is still too limited to warrant $999 or more. It's great on more affordable devices, but one must examine what you're truly getting for your thousand dollars," wrote Ars Technica. "The Pixelbook's added value is Chrome OS, the Google Assistant, and Android apps. Individually, those three things may be intriguing, but the experience of using them all stuffed into the Pixelbook remains a work in progress."
Google Pixelbook starts shipping Oct. 31. The standard model comes with a seventh-generation Intel Core i5 processor, 8 GB of RAM, and 128 GB of onboard storage. Customers can bump that up to 512 GB if so they wish, and there's also an option to go with 16 GB of RAM. It has a 12.3-inch 2,400 x 1,600 display, an aluminum body, a backlit keyboard, a 720p camera, and can last up to 10 hours.