October 26, 2017
This isn’t the first time Google has asked you to spend a grand or more for one of its own cloud and browser-based Chrome OS laptops. The Pixelbook, though, might just be the first pricey Google-branded Chromebook to legitimately tempt you to part with such a lofty sum.


Chromebooks are their own breed of computer, of course, distinct from the Mac or Windows PCs. They rely on Google's Chrome operating system and--most of the time-- an Internet connection where the files and apps, several but not all from Google, typically reside.

Google Pixelbook is an impressive Chromebook. But is it worth $1,000?

Pixelbook is a beautiful, thin and well-constructed 2 ½ pound aluminum and glass piece of hardware, with a 360-degree hinge that lets you fold the thing into a tablet, prop it up to watch a movie, or use more conventionally like any laptop. It is, for lack of a better way of putting it, a 4-in-1.
I immediately took to the full size backlit Qwerty keyboard I used to produce this column, comfortably resting my wrists on silicon pads as I typed. Converted into a tablet or tent mode to use the touchscreen, the exposed physical keys are properly deactivated.
I also appreciated that the obedient Google Assistant you may frequently summon on your Android phone worked here.
The bad news is the price: Google is asking you to spend $999 on up for Pixelbook, and regrettably that doesn’t count the $99 extra for the optional stylus.

Competing in the high rent district
Nice as the hardware is, including the 12.3-inch touch display, Google finds itself competing in the high-rent computing neighborhood occupied by various Apple MacBooks (or even fully-spec’d iPad Pros), Microsoft’s Surface models, and other premium Windows PCs. Some of you will undoubtedly want to stick with Mac OS or Windows. I don’t blame you.
Though there are a range of available models, mostly when you think of Chromebooks, you think cheap. Indeed, a quick search inside Amazon yields numerous Chromebooks that can be had for $200 or less, one of the reasons they’ve become so popular in the classroom.

Google Pixelbook is an impressive Chromebook. But is it worth $1,000?

There’s nothing cheap about the way the Pixelbook was made, and Google has made great strides through the years with Chrome OS. You'll still be hamstrung when you’re offline but less so.
You may have forgotten by now, but back in 2013, Google actually sold what was called the Chromebook Pixel. It cost $1,299 at the outset and had limited storage, poor battery life and often required an active connection to the Internet.
Google made improvements two years later when it released another since-retired expensive Chromebook Pixel model, but still there were shortcomings.
Using Android apps
Today’s Pixelbook isn’t flawless either, but there’s a lot more you can do with the machine. It runs state-of-the-art Intel processors, and you can get it with 128GB, 256GB or 512GB of storage. I didn't run a formal battery test and Google says you can get up to ten hours, but based on my usage I felt it gave way a little shorter than that. But the machine does charge quickly. (You can use either of two USB-C ports to do so.)
Most notably, through the Google Play Store you can download Android apps onto the Pixelbook. While such apps haven’t always been optimized for the form factor, you appreciate the wide choice of available options.
I did bump into quirks. Inside the Spotify Android app, for example, a message appeared on the screen that said, “This application needs to restart to resize and may not work well when resized.”
Help from Google Assistant
Having the Google Assistant around is certainly convenient and evens the score with Apple and Microsoft, which let you access their own respective digital assistants, Siri and Cortana, on Macs and Windows computers. You can summon the Google Assistant on the Pixelbook by pressing a dedicated key on the keyboard and typing a request or by barking out the familiar “OK Google” command. If you type, the Google Assistant will respond silently. If you use your voice, the Assistant will respond in kind.
The Assistant will also detect what is on the screen and take a stab at just what it is you might be looking to do. It often got it right.
When the pen is mightier
Meanwhile, if you buy the optional Pixelbook Pen, you have a clever way to get help from the Assistant. You can press and hold the button on the stylus and circle text on the screen. Though it didn’t work every time, Google Assistant recognized, for example, various names that I circled, including the Asian restaurant, “Nobu” and the violinist and composer “Paganini.” It works with pictures I circled, too, correctly identifying President John F. Kennedy, Taylor Swift and former New York Yankees manager Joe Girardi.
You can also use the pen to draw or write inside various apps. I didn’t experience serious lag, at least in the apps I tried. The pen operates on a single AAAA battery, and there’s no need to “pair” it with the Pixelbook.
My biggest gripe about the pen aside from its extra cost: there’s no slot or place to store the pen without springing for another accessory. If you’re like me, the question is not if you'll lose the pen but when.
There are a lot to reasons to recommend the Pixelbook. One of them isn't the price.
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