With its new Pixelbook, Google tried to combine the best features found in smartphones, tablets and laptops to create a Chromebook computer flexible enough to meet the demands of everyday life. The Pixelbook can also provide a new, productive option for business owners, if you're willing to spend the money.
The 7th generation Intel Core-powered Pixelbook costs $999 and is available for preorder now. It starts shipping on October 31. As Google's thinnest laptop, measuring 0.4 inches thick and weighing only 2.4 pounds, the Pixelbook features a sleek and stylish aluminum unibody.
The company offers an optional stylus ($99), the Google Pixelbook Pen, that lets users take notes and sketch on the screen. The laptop also offers several other features that could potentially be useful for small business owners.
The Pixelbook's screen collapses so it can be used as a tablet. Or the laptop can be folded into "prop mode" for viewing presentation notes or explaining infographics and diagrams, which basically shapes the laptop like an upside-down V. Prop mode is great for watching TV shows, displaying recipes or reading. The 12.3-inch touchscreen is slightly smaller than an iPad Pro, which makes the laptop very portable.
The optional Google Pixelbook Pen is a responsive stylus that has only 10 milliseconds (ms) of latency, meaning that writing with the stylus feels like writing with a real pen, unlike some of the competitors on the market, such as the Apple Pencil that offers 20ms latency. The pen has 60 degrees of angular awareness, 2,000 levels of pressure sensitivity and features handwriting recognition. It does require a AAAA battery to work; not exactly a common battery type. But for those who like to take handwritten notes or collaborate by writing on the screen, this pen could be just the thing you've been waiting for.
The Pixelbook, which comes with either 8GB or 16GB of RAM, features Google Assistant as part of the Google operating system. By saying "OK Google" or pressing the dedicated Assistant key, it's easy to search for an email, open a new document or check commute times.
Google artificial intelligence is incredibly smart. It pulls in data from all sorts of Google services, such as Maps and Knowledge Graph. The Google Assistant is not exclusive to the Pixelbook. It is fully integrated into all Google devices. You can even press and hold the Assistant button on the Pixelbook Pen to circle or highlight a term to find out its definition, learn more about a picture or add an event to a calendar.
Google claims the Pixelbook lasts for 10 hours on a full charge and will power up to 2 hours in just 15 minutes. Long battery life has always been a key selling point for Chromebooks, so this is not an unexpected claim. But it's far from the longest-lasting laptop we've seen. [Read related story: Longest Lasting Laptops]
The Pixelbook has a few new features that allow business owners to collaborate with co-workers seamlessly, but is it worth the $999 sticker price? Including the stylus, the new laptop is around $1,100.
That's a massive jump compared to other Chromebooks, which cost around $200. Overall, the Pixelbook may be a great way for business owners to expand their use of technology, but the price could present a significant hurdle for some small businesses.
If you've never used a Chromebook, you should be aware they have some limitations. While you will be able to access the full Google Play store on the Pixelbook (Snapchat is even making a desktop version of its app for the Chrome OS store), you won't be able to download any desktop software you might be accustomed to using. That's because Chromebooks are primarily meant to be used online. But because the operating system is constantly being updated, it's better protected from viruses than many PCs.
Taking all of that into account, if the idea of a Chromebook appeals to you, this is the top-of-the-line model. But the Pixelbook will cost you. Part of the appeal of Chromebooks has always been that they are cheap. For instance, you can pick up the HP Chromebook 11 for about $200. So justifying a $1,000 purchase might be a stretch.