Pixelbook Go review: Google's laptop is designed to please

  • Editors' rating
    8.7 Outstanding
  • $849.00

Pros

  • Sleek, modern fit and finish
  • Full desktop browser
  • Long battery life
  • Fast charging capability
  • 3.5mm headset jack

Cons

  • More expensive than non-Google Chromebooks

Ten days ago Google announced the Pixelbook Go to fill out its Chromebook line so we now have a Chromebook laptop, tablet, and convertible with prices starting at $649. For the past week, I have been using the Pixelbook Go as my primary computing device on the go; taking it on the train, on a plane, in hotels, and in automobiles.

I've been using the Pixel Slate for the past year, but the Pixelbook Go may actually be a better device for me despite the few differences between it and the Pixel Slate. The tablet form is not supported on the Go, but I rarely use the Pixelbook Pen and find a keyboard is much more useful than a stylus.

The Pixelbook Go is designed for productivity and media on the go and with my 90 minute roundtrip train commute and regular business travel having this fantastic keyboard with Hush Keys may be just what I've been looking for. Long battery life, wide 16:9 aspect ratio for side-by-side apps, and a design that looks and feels good dominate the Pixelbook Go.

Also: One year with the Google Pixel Slate: My favorite computer and tablet for getting work done

Before using the Pixel Slate, I had a Pixelbook for a year and it is still a great device. However, the lower price, improved keyboard, and more modern design elements make the Pixelbook Go a better option for most. If you never use the Pixelbook in tablet orientation or tent mode then you should look to the Pixelbook Go. Actually, I don't know why you would pay more for a first generation Pixelbook at this point.

Specifications (as reviewed)

  • Processor: 8th Gen Intel Core i5
  • Display: 13.3 inch 1920x1080 pixels resolution LCD touchscreen (166 ppi)
  • Operating system: Chrome OS, launch version 77
  • RAM: 8GB
  • Storage: 128GB internal storage
  • Cameras: 2 megapixel 60fps, 1080p front facing camera
  • Wireless technology: 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac WiFi 2x2 MIMO, Bluetooth 4.2
  • Audio: Dual front-firing stereo speakers
  • Ports: Two USB-C (one on each side) and a 3.5mm headset jack
  • Battery: Up to 12 hours battery life, with fast charging to provide up to two hours of life in 20 minutes
  • Dimensions: 311 x 206.3 x 13.4 mm and 1061 grams (2.3 pounds)
  • Color: Just Black

Compared to the Pixelbook, we see a newer generation Intel Core i5 processor and two hours more advertised battery life, but without the ability to flip into tablet form or function with the Pixelbook Pen.

Hardware

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When I first saw the Pixelbook Go announced on stage at the Made by Google hardware event, I honestly didn't think much of it as it seemed like a rather expensive Chromebook when compared to others in the $300 to $500 price range. During the hands-on demonstration time I visited the Pixelbook Go area and was immediately impressed with the hardware as soon as I picked it up and started using it. After a week of constant use, I'm ready to easily recommend this for someone looking for a high quality Chromebook that won't let you down.

First impressions are that it is very light with its painted magnesium body, the display looks great, and the Hush Keys keyboard is incredible. I'm able to type very fast on the keyboard with minimal sound while having excellent tactile response. For a device to help with productivity, having a top-notch keyboard is essential.

The battery has been getting me through a full day of work and more each day. There's a bug in the current release of Chrome OS 77 where the battery indicator in the bottom right corner doesn't update unless you plug/unplug the charging cable or wake their device from sleep. Google states this is related to how often the UI refreshes the battery status and is not related to hardware (the battery itself is still holding its charge as expected). Google has deployed a fix already which will be available in the next release (M78) that users receive automatically when Pixelbook Go starts shipping to customers.

In addition to the awesome keyboard, the other major feature that stands out from past Google-branded Chromebooks is the 16:9 aspect ratio. At first I didnt' think I would even consider using the Pixelbook Go as a daily driver since I grew so accustomed to the 3:2 aspect ratio of the Pixelbook and Pixel Slate. With that 3:2 aspect ratio, you don't have to scroll up and down as much. However, the 16:9 aspect ratio does work better for working with two sites or apps side-by-side and I'm finding my productivity seems to be increasing with this setup.

Since the Pixelbook Go is not a tablet or a convertible, Google was able to go with the more common 16:9 display to save some cost while also focusing on the dual app experience and media consumption. Some may question why touch is included, but Google's research finds that people are used to touching their devices so it figured touch was important enough to include as well.

Also: Google Pixelbook review: Clean design with impressive performance you'll have to pay for

The display has minimal bezels on the two sides with larger bezels on the top and bottom. There is a central front-facing camera for video calls with no camera on the back.

The bottom has a unique design with a matte finish that looks a bit like corrugated panels found on some outside patios. The textured back makes it easy to grab onto the Pixelbook Go and keep it securely in hand.

While the Pixel Slate removed the 3.5mm headset jack, it is back on the Pixelbook Go and located on the left side near the USB-C port. There is also a USB-C port on the right side.

There are less expensive Chromebooks, but key design features of the Pixelbook Go help it stand out from the broader market of Chromebooks. These include the stunning keyboard, Google Assistant button, lightweight design, long battery life, quick charge capability with USB-C, and awesome stereo sound from each side of the keyboard.

Google also has an enterprise program where businesses can purchase the Pixelbook Go on a build-to-order basis. For example, businesses can change the RAM or internal storage options or even something like having a flat section on the bottom for inventory stickers.

Software

The Pixelbook Go runs Chrome OS and is currently running version 77 on the unit I am testing. After using Chrome OS full time for a year on the Pixelbook and then for another year on the Pixel Slate, I am convinced it is the best OS for most of my needs. It's fast, gets updated easily in the background, will get updates for more than six years, doesn't limit me at all with the full desktop browser, and lets me focus on work. Android apps support is also there for those times I need a specific app to get work done when I'm not connected to the internet.

Split-screen mode works very well on the wide display of the Pixelbook Go. Split-screen is similar to Windows 10 where you simply drag an app or Chrome tab over to the left or right side to have it pop into mid-screen orientation. You can then drag it to realign it if you want.

In addition to using the browser with multiple tabs and web apps, I also use several Android apps on the Pixelbook Go. These include Outlook, Telegram, Twitter, Messages, Text, and more. I love using the Files app with a direct connection to my Google Drive storage too.

Also: Pixel Slate review: Google tablet vs iPad or Surface? It's beyond compare

Another major benefit of a Chromebook is the integration of Google Assistant. Simply state "OK Google" or "Hey Google" to launch Google Assistant and then let the Assistant go to work. You can also press and hold on the dedicated Google Assistant key right on the keyboard.

Price, availability, and competition

You can currently order the Pixelbook Go in two different configurations; $649 for Intel Core m3 with 8GB RAM and 64GB internal storage and $849 for Intel Core i5 with 8GB RAM and 128GB internal storage. Available colors include Just Black and Not Pink. An i5 model with 16GB of RAM and 128GB will be available for $999 while an i7 model with 16GB of RAM, 256GB internal flash storage, and 4K 3840x2160 pixels resolution display will be released for $1,399 in the near future.

I encourage readers to visit the Chromebook shopping site that will walk you through options to select the best Chromebook for you. The Pixelbook Go is a sound option that gets you a high quality Google-designed device at a reasonable price. I didn't get to test the Core m3 model, but it should perform the same for most tasks as the i5 model.

Daily experiences and conclusions

The Pixelbook Go has far exceeded my expectations while the Pixel 4 has disappointed me. People were expecting a Pixelbook 2 as the successor to the Pixelbook, but that is not what we have here in the Pixelbook Go. We may see that in the future, but don't think of this as a successor to the Pixelbook and view it as a new addition to the Google lineup. This model is designed to fill the laptop-only mode and come in at the lowest starting price of a Google-branded Chromebook. The Pixelbook and Pixel Slate are still offered for buyers looking for different form factors.

There is usually something in a device that disappoints me, but after a week of use I haven't found a single thing that bothers me about the Pixelbook Go. Frankly, it is serving me very well and I may be looking at it as my next Chromebook. While in my home office I also connect it to an external monitor and it performs flawlessly in this desktop mode as well.

The Pixelbook Go is a very well constructed and designed Chromebook that focuses on helping you work efficiently and enjoy media on the go. Computers sometimes frustrate users, but one thing I have found with the Pixelbook Go is that it's refreshing to pick it up, open the lid, get work done, and move on without any frustrations.

Specifications

General
Packaged Quantity 1
Processor / Chipset
CPU Intel Core i5
RAM
Installed Size 8 GB
Display
Resolution 1920 x 1080 (Full HD)
Widescreen Display Yes
Monitor Features 72% NTSC color gamut
Type LED
Touchscreen yes
Diagonal Size (metric) 33.8 cm
Display Resolution Abbreviation Full HD
Audio & Video
Graphics Processor Intel HD Graphics
Sound Stereo speakers, two microphones
Hard Drive
Type SSD
Capacity 128 GB
Input
Type keyboard, touchpad
Communications
Wireless Protocol 802.11a/b/g/n/ac, Bluetooth 4.2
Optical Storage
Drive Type no optical drive
Type none
Processor
CPU Type Core i5
Manufacturer Intel
Connections & Expansion
Interfaces USB-C
Headphone output
Header
Brand Google
Product Line Google Pixelbook
Country Kits United States
Packaged Quantity 1
Miscellaneous
Color just black
Integrated Options Ambient light sensor, magnetometer
Security Titan-C Security Chip
Compliant Standards FIDO Certified
Included Accessories power adapter
Networking
Data Link Protocol Bluetooth 4.2, IEEE 802.11a, IEEE 802.11ac, IEEE 802.11b, IEEE 802.11g, IEEE 802.11n
Monitor
Diagonal Size 13.3 in
System
Notebook Type Chromebook, thin and light
Platform Chrome OS
Hard Drive Capacity 128 GB
Dimensions & Weight
Width 12.2 in
Depth 8.1 in
Height 0.5 in
Physical Characteristics
Weight 2.34 lbs
Operating System / Software
OS Provided: Type Google Chrome OS
Video Output
Graphics Processor Intel HD Graphics
Graphics Processor Series Intel HD Graphics
Input Device
Backlight Yes

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Where To Buy

Google Pixelbook Go

Part Number: GA00521-US