Google Pixelbook Go review: the price of simplicity

There are two good things about Google’s new Chromebook, the Pixelbook Go. The first is the keyboard, which is a pleasure to write and yet it is incredibly quiet. The second is the battery life, which is as good or better than any Intel laptop you have used in recent memory.

Those are the good things, but there are also many good things. It has a simple and simple design, good speakers and a solid trackpad. The model I am testing, which has an Intel Core i5 Y series processor, is fast and responsive. Virtually everything about this laptop makes me want to recommend it as the default Chromebook for everyone.

Everything, that is, except the price. It starts at $ 649 and the model I'm testing is $ 849. Comparable Chromebooks cost at least one hundred dollars less for similar features. So, with Pixelbook Go, what are you paying for?


The Pixelbook Go is a beautiful 13.3-inch laptop with a discreet, clean design Or at least, the black model I'm using is underrated: it will also eventually be offered in a color that Google calls "Not Pink", which has a soft pink finish with a bright coral base. It's not very different from a MacBook Pro, if you could get one of those in black.

Weighs 2.3 pounds and feels sturdy and reliable thanks to a magnesium chassis. Many Chromebooks have plastic bodies, so part of what you are paying with Pixelbook Go are the materials. Google has coated that magnesium with a soft paint that is almost plastic. I can't tell you if it will splinter or scratch easily, at least during my test week, but I suspect it will hold up pretty well.

Everything is gently curved around the edges, and if it wasn't so well done, I'd say it's a prototype in the way it used to be Google's hardware. The most notable design element is the bottom, which is grooved for grip. The keyboard is backlit and flanked by two speakers that are respectable, if not impressive, for a laptop of this size.

I mentioned in our first look at the Go that I needed to make sure I wasn't too excited about the keyboard without further testing. Now that I have it, I can say that I love it. It is my favorite thing to write about.

Google took the already excellent Pixelbook keyboard and repeated it a bit, making the keys a little quieter. I've tried keyboards that point to silence in the past and generally end up feeling soft, but that's not the case here at all. The keys have a good path and a good elastic resistance. If you like mechanical keyboards, this is not for you.

The trackpad under the keyboard is large, but not massive. Google has also done a good job with palm rejection. Unlike the Pixelbook, the trackpad on the Go does not extend to the bottom edge of the keyboard platform, so it is less prone to erroneous clicks.

Unfortunately, the Pixelbook Go does not have any kind of biometric authentication such as a fingerprint sensor or face unlock. Google notes that you can pair it with an Android phone and use the biometrics of that phone to unlock the laptop. The same applies to the lack of LTE options: it is easy to connect your Pixel phone directly from the system menu.

You can lift the screen with just one finger, but you cannot flip it to place the laptop in tablet or tent mode. As bad as the tablet mode is in Chrome OS, I wish it were still an option here, if only to set it up in store mode to watch movies on a plane.

Three of the four Pixelbook Go models come with a 1920 x 1080 16: 9 LCD touch screen. The bezels at the top and bottom of the screen are on the large side, but the screen itself is very bright and does not inspire any complaints. Really, my only problem is with that aspect ratio: I'm not a fan. I know that not everyone likes the highest 3: 2 aspect ratio on laptops, but even 16:10 would feel a little less tight when I browse websites.

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All Pixelbook Go models have no fan because they all use Intel Y-series chips. In fact, Google is using Intel 8th generation chips instead of something newer. I suppose it is partly a cost saving measure, but the truth is that I did not notice any real problems with speed. I am testing the mid-range model with the Core i5 and 8 GB of RAM and have not yet found any real slowdown.

Battery life is also excellent. I have not yet reached the 12 hours of use claimed by Google, but I had no problem completing an eight-hour workday. The Pixelbook Go also supports fast charging through any of the USB-C ports, and in my test I raised it from zero to 35 percent in 30 minutes. (Chrome OS still has some problems to solve, by the way: its estimated remaining time was consistently incorrect.) The USB-C ports also handle the usual USB stuff, including video output, but are not compatible with Thunderbolt 3. [19659026] One of the reasons Pixelbook Go works so well is that Google has simply tried to do less with him than with the Pixel Slate tablet last year. That device worked and sold so badly that Google finally ruled out its plans to make more Chrome OS-based tablets and instead made this simple laptop.

You can run Android applications, but I avoided them for the most part. I used Spotify for music, mainly. Chrome OS still has a dual application problem: the web version and Android versions of Gmail were competing to send me notifications, for example. At the end of the day, I kept the web applications and its quality is better than you would expect. This year I was very impressed with the Adobe Lightroom web application.

Unfortunately, I can't talk about whether the $ 649 low-end Pixelbook Go, which has a Core M3 processor, will work as well as this one. However, I recently tried several Chromebooks with chips in that line and provided they have 8 GB of RAM, I had no complaints. Fortunately, even the low-end Pixelbook Go includes so much RAM.

There is a $ 999 model that has 16 GB of RAM and also a $ 1,399 model with a 4K screen. You would have to be a dedicated and dedicated Chrome OS lover to get to justify any of those purchases. I feel they exist simply to deliver them to Google employees or to a handful of people who like to use Chromebooks for Linux.

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The big question with Pixelbook Go for me is if it can justify its price in relation to other Chromebooks. I recently reviewed half a dozen of them for our best Chromebook article and discovered that everything in the $ 500-600 range is incredibly similar. However, one stood out for its screen and build quality, the Asus Chromebook Flip C434.

At the time of writing this article, a C434 with specifications almost identical to the Pixelbook Go base costs $ 599, $ 50 less than the Pixelbook (prices in However, Google Chromebooks vary often). The C434 also has a fully metallic design, its screen is almost without bezel and can be flipped, and has a microSD card slot and a standard USB-A port.

The Pixelbook Go weighs less and slightly improves battery life, but what you're really paying with that additional $ 50 is primarily a more elegant design laptop. That is definitely worth $ 50 for many people, but giving up the additional ports and the option to switch to tablet mode seems like a bad deal.

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Simplicity in product design is mostly good, but in Pixelbook Go it also means fewer ports and fewer ways to use the screen. Nor is it a decisive factor and, considering all things, I enjoy using the Pixelbook more than the C434, but that doesn't make it a better machine.

If you're looking for a Chromebook and find Pixelbook Go for sale, definitely check it out. But at full price, you should ask yourself how much simplicity is worth to you.

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