Linked by Thom Holwerda on Mon 2nd Oct 2017 21:56 UTC
Google

The Pixelbook has a lot in common with the previous Chromebooks that came directly from Google, with a high price tag and a spec sheet to match, but the Pixelbook will showcase the two newest enhancements to Chrome OS with stylus support and a hinge that allows for fold-over convertible use as a tablet. Neither of these things is new (convertible laptop designs have been a Windows staple for ages) but both are new for Google.

Including these features in Chrome and putting them on a high-priced Chromebook aimed squarely at developers and enthusiasts means Google really wants them to become a natural part of the Chromebook experience, and ultimately part of the web experience. So we have to ask, is Chrome finally ready to be a replacement for your tablet?

The answer is a mixed bag. It seems like answers are always that way. And Google needs to lead by example, then get everyone else on board.

Earlier this year, I replaced my aunt's aging Windows Vista (...) laptop with a Chromebook - a nice, solid, aluminium laptop with a good screen, solid trackpad, and amazing battery life. Since I set it up for her, I got to use it for a week before sending it off to my parents, who also used it for a week, after which we sent it to my aunt. All of us - my aunt, my parents, myself - were impressed with just how effortless of a machine it was. No fuss, no fiddling, no extraneous, outdated junk from 40 years of desktop computing getting in the way of browsing, e-mailing, and working with some simple documents.

Chrome OS is a great platform for a large group of non-demanding users, which is why I'm baffled by Google trying to sell us these upscale, fancy Chromebooks with insane amounts of power, and now, apparently, with stylus support and tablet mode? This feels exactly like the kind of extraneous, useless features that will only confuse and get in the way of the kind of people I personally think Chromebooks are great for.

Who is this upcoming Pixelbook for?

Order by: Score:
Pixel Book Experiment?
by BlueofRainbow on Tue 3rd Oct 2017 03:03 UTC
BlueofRainbow
Member since:
2009-01-06

When rumors surfaced that there would be a Pixel 2017, I was hoping that it would be in the linage of the previous two Pixel chromebooks (2013 and 2015). As for being a show case model, I would have thought that a Pixel 2017 might have an OLED display and unlocked cellular connectivity. I am a bit disappointed that, like the convertible Pixel C, this iteration is departing from the fundamental concept behind Chrome OS: a lean and secure desktop web browser with applications and resources management capabilities.

Maybe this second iteration of the convertible tablet form factor is another experiment related to the much talked about potential merging of Android and Chrome OS into one. After all, it is now possible to run Android Apps on Chrome OS.

Reply Score: 6

Comment by ahferroin7
by ahferroin7 on Tue 3rd Oct 2017 12:21 UTC
ahferroin7
Member since:
2015-10-30

Well, my first guess would be that they're trying to target the same market as the iPad Pro and the Surface Pro.

The alternative is that it's mostly a marketing item to try and set the new standard for Chromebooks, just like Google tries to do every year with their phones.

Reply Score: 1

RE: Comment by ahferroin7
by darknexus on Tue 3rd Oct 2017 12:51 UTC in reply to "Comment by ahferroin7"
darknexus Member since:
2008-07-15

Well, my first guess would be that they're trying to target the same market as the iPad Pro and the Surface Pro.

Good luck with that, considering how few apps there really are. Web pages only go so far, and Android apps running on this thing are going to be just as clunky as they have been on other Chromebooks supporting them. Thanks, but no thanks.

Reply Score: 5

Nailed it
by NathanHill on Tue 3rd Oct 2017 15:12 UTC
NathanHill
Member since:
2006-10-06

I like ChromeOS, and Chromebooks are fun inexpensive laptops to have around the house for homework, email, and Youtube. But don't spend more than $100 on one. Go get a refurb Dell or Acer for around $100 and call it a day with these things. 2 GB of RAM is quite workable. 16GB SSD is more than enough. Do you really need an HD screen? Tablet features? Really?

Reply Score: 2

RE: Nailed it
by Flatland_Spider on Tue 3rd Oct 2017 15:38 UTC in reply to "Nailed it"
Flatland_Spider Member since:
2006-09-01

HD screen? Yes, web devs love to create websites optimized for 1920x1080. It's annoying.

Reply Score: 4

RE[2]: Nailed it
by Megol on Tue 3rd Oct 2017 16:45 UTC in reply to "RE: Nailed it"
Megol Member since:
2011-04-11

HD screen? Yes, web devs love to create websites optimized for 1920x1080. It's annoying.


Web developers shouldn't optimize for a certain resolution. They shouldn't even optimize for a certain screen aspect ratio (or at least detect it and switch to a useful layout).

In reality most web designers are incompetent hacks* that couldn't make something functional if their life depended on it. Even large sites like Intels web site have been contaminated with the looks-and-no-function syndrome.

(* not related to hacker which they are _not_)

Reply Score: 5

RE[3]: Nailed it
by Bill Shooter of Bul on Tue 3rd Oct 2017 18:10 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Nailed it"
Bill Shooter of Bul Member since:
2006-07-14

I don't think Intel cares enough to pay for any thing more than what they have. Its fine. What doesn't function on it?

Spending a ton of money on web sites doesn't result in a corresponding revenue jump.

" I was going to buy an intel processor, but the website is so terrible, you know. So I bought AMD instead"

Said no one, ever.

Reply Score: 3

RE[4]: Nailed it
by darknexus on Tue 3rd Oct 2017 18:57 UTC in reply to "RE[3]: Nailed it"
darknexus Member since:
2008-07-15

" I was going to buy an intel processor, but the website is so terrible, you know. So I bought AMD instead"

Said no one, ever.

Substitute "HP" and "Dell" in that sentence and I've come damn close to saying exactly that. ;)

Reply Score: 5

RE[5]: Nailed it
by Flatland_Spider on Tue 3rd Oct 2017 20:14 UTC in reply to "RE[4]: Nailed it"
Flatland_Spider Member since:
2006-09-01

LOL, yes.

To be fair, HP just hates customers (who aren't going to spend millions dollars and go through their assigned sales rep).

Dell's web devs have a hard time writing javascript that isn't filled with infinite loops, but if you call them, they'll sell you whatever you want. Washer and dryer? No problem. ;)

Reply Score: 2

RE[5]: Nailed it
by Bill Shooter of Bul on Tue 3rd Oct 2017 20:16 UTC in reply to "RE[4]: Nailed it"
Bill Shooter of Bul Member since:
2006-07-14

Ok, for a company that you can and often do purchase goods through, there is some incentive to make the UX decent. But the point stands for vendor sites that don't do much business by direct sales. The bigness of a company doesn't matter, the amount and frequency of direct money tied to a user using the website does.

Reply Score: 3

RE[4]: Nailed it
by Adurbe on Wed 4th Oct 2017 09:15 UTC in reply to "RE[3]: Nailed it"
Adurbe Member since:
2005-07-06

I like my Ryzen and don't like the Intel site... so in a way, I did

Reply Score: 4

Experiments!
by Flatland_Spider on Tue 3rd Oct 2017 15:33 UTC
Flatland_Spider
Member since:
2006-09-01

As other people have pointed out, it's for developers. Google crams random stuff into the Pixel to give devs a playground.

Remember how irritating it is when OEMs drag their feet and cite the lack of a market to justify churning out the same cookie cutter machines they always have? Well, Google is taking the initiative and producing machines which are baffling experimental, but they're necessary to advance the Chrome ecosystem.

If ChromeOS leads to Fuscia, which is what it looks like, then this is the next step in the evolution of the product. Convergence between PC, tablets, and cellphones is going to happen, even if it's failed so far.

Who is this for? Teachers and students, which is the market that has really embraced ChromeOS. We've developed a whole range of weird little squiggles that we do with our hands which we call writing, and we spend a lot of time perfecting them using a writing utensil rather then learning how to use them with a keyboard.

People who deal with lots of math equations for one. Believe it or not, it's really cumbersome to write math equations with a normal keyboard without specialized software (LaTeX), and as such, it's much easier to draw out a math equation.

It's much easier to mark up a paper with a stylus and touchscreen then it is to use a keyboard.

Incidently, these are the reasons my wife has a Wacom tablet.

Writing practice. Children spend a lot of time practicing writing letters, and this isn't going to change. The response to this is to create a program that will grade them on their handwriting skills.

Art in general will benefit from this. Wacom tablets are awesome for art, but they are pretty rare outside of professional circles. Adding a touchscreen democratizes this, and allows Synaptics, or whoever, to say they're innovating.

Reply Score: 4

RE: Experiments!
by darknexus on Tue 3rd Oct 2017 16:51 UTC in reply to "Experiments!"
darknexus Member since:
2008-07-15

It's much easier to mark up a paper with a stylus and touchscreen then it is to use a keyboard.

That doesn't mean you should. Remember what it's been like not being able to read people's handwriting? At least having to use a keyboard took that away. OCR for handwriting is going to have to get a lot better before I'll accept anything marked up that way.

Reply Score: 3

RE[2]: Experiments!
by Flatland_Spider on Tue 3rd Oct 2017 20:34 UTC in reply to "RE: Experiments!"
Flatland_Spider Member since:
2006-09-01

That doesn't mean you should.


Hours with the keyboard versus minutes with the touchscreen.

In principle, I agree that a keyboard should be used more often, but the productivity gains when using the touchscreen were pretty dramatic.

Remember what it's been like not being able to read people's handwriting?


Scanned math homework in PDF form which has students handwritten work on them, so tit for tat.

OCR for handwriting is going to have to get a lot better before I'll accept anything marked up that way.


Crappy OCR is more reason to use it. It's not going to get better if it isn't exercised, and if there is a company that can collect enough data to make a good OCR, it's Google. Google has a vested interest in make a good OCR, now that I think about it.

Anyway, the handwriting recognition with MacOS has been pretty good, for what it's worth.

Reply Score: 2

RE[3]: Experiments!
by ssokolow on Wed 4th Oct 2017 15:09 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Experiments!"
ssokolow Member since:
2010-01-21


Hours with the keyboard versus minutes with the touchscreen.

In principle, I agree that a keyboard should be used more often, but the productivity gains when using the touchscreen were pretty dramatic.


It would be nice if there were an affordable alternative to using a Wacom Cintiq with an adjustable mount in place of my center monitor.

As-is, I have a sub-$100 Wacom tablet that I pretty much never use. (Though, to be fair, I also have horrendous handwriting and I'm programmer enough to feel comfortable typing the raw markup in places like LibreOffice's equation editor.)

Reply Score: 3

RE[3]: Experiments!
by darknexus on Wed 4th Oct 2017 19:43 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Experiments!"
darknexus Member since:
2008-07-15

Anyway, the handwriting recognition with MacOS has been pretty good, for what it's worth.

I didn't know how good MacOS' Ink feature was because I've never once used a graphics tablet with a Mac. Heck, I've never used a graphics tablet at all and, as I'm not an artist, never thought of getting one. A pity I can't demo it with the trackpad. I wouldn't have thought of MacOS being pretty good because iOS sure isn't, to say the least and one would have thought Apple would have leveraged a good OCR technology if they had it.

Reply Score: 2

RE[4]: Experiments!
by Flatland_Spider on Thu 5th Oct 2017 14:47 UTC in reply to "RE[3]: Experiments!"
Flatland_Spider Member since:
2006-09-01

A pity I can't demo it with the trackpad. I wouldn't have thought of MacOS being pretty good because iOS sure isn't, to say the least and one would have thought Apple would have leveraged a good OCR technology if they had it.


If you know how to write Chinese, it can be demoed with the Trackpad. ;) Yeah, it would be a cool feature if they would expand it.

Apple is supposed to own the best handwriting recognition algorithm, which is leftover from the Newton. I'm not sure why they don't use it more. Maybe the variability in handwriting is too much, and the error is higher then they would like, even if they own a great algorithm. Part of the Apple ethos is making technology "just work".

Reply Score: 2

RE[5]: Experiments!
by darknexus on Thu 5th Oct 2017 16:28 UTC in reply to "RE[4]: Experiments!"
darknexus Member since:
2008-07-15

Yeah I saw that. Unfortunately Chinese is not among my repertoire. ;)

Reply Score: 2

RE: Experiments!
by zima on Wed 4th Oct 2017 12:33 UTC in reply to "Experiments!"
zima Member since:
2005-07-06

Who is this for? Teachers and students, which is the market that has really embraced ChromeOS. We've developed a whole range of weird little squiggles that we do with our hands which we call writing, and we spend a lot of time perfecting them using a writing utensil rather then learning how to use them with a keyboard.

People who deal with lots of math equations for one. Believe it or not, it's really cumbersome to write math equations with a normal keyboard without specialized software (LaTeX), and as such, it's much easier to draw out a math equation.

That's why I won't buy a new ~computer without stylus support, I think (that said, it would be great if stylus support trickled down to some less expensive machines than this Pixelbook...)

Edited 2017-10-04 12:44 UTC

Reply Score: 3

Comment by raom
by raom on Tue 3rd Oct 2017 17:34 UTC
raom
Member since:
2016-06-26

Do chromebooks come with an unlocked bootloader nowadays? Can I install linux on it like I would any PC? Last time I used one I had to mess with some google fake signature bullshit just to get fucking Ubuntu to boot.

Reply Score: 3

RE: Comment by raom
by Flatland_Spider on Tue 3rd Oct 2017 20:35 UTC in reply to "Comment by raom"
Flatland_Spider Member since:
2006-09-01

Just buy a Dell. ;)

Reply Score: 2

RE: Comment by raom
by bnolsen on Thu 5th Oct 2017 12:18 UTC in reply to "Comment by raom"
bnolsen Member since:
2006-01-06

Mostly they've always had a bios that can be replaced or modified to boot a linux distro. Most chromebooks need to have a screw removed or a dip switch toggled to do it.

I oriiginally bought a refurb lenovo chromebook to do just that and ended up just keeping it as a chromebook, just because it works so darn well as a family computer. Now we have 2 chromebooks (well 3, but the charging circuit broke on one).

Keep them simple and cheap for me please!

Edited 2017-10-05 12:22 UTC

Reply Score: 2

Big Tent
by CajunMoses on Tue 3rd Oct 2017 22:31 UTC
CajunMoses
Member since:
2017-10-03

Windows comes packaged in every imaginable form factor and price level, and each targets certain customers. As Chrome OS becomes more capable, there's no reason that it shouldn't target customers in realms other than EDU and netbookers. Such narrow minds....

Reply Score: 2

RE: Big Tent
by Flatland_Spider on Thu 5th Oct 2017 14:59 UTC in reply to "Big Tent"
Flatland_Spider Member since:
2006-09-01

Google recently started offering ChromeOS Enterprise (https://enterprise.google.com/chrome/chrome-enterprise/).

Reply Score: 2

Macbook competitor?
by cacheline on Thu 5th Oct 2017 19:35 UTC
cacheline
Member since:
2016-06-10

I've used Macbooks for work (Android development) for a few years now. I prefer the integrated Terminal/command line tools, the mouse gestures, and overall niceties I don't get from Windows. But, I've thought for a while that if Google created a Macbook (especially Macbook Pro) competitor that integrated with Android phones as well as iPhone and macOS do, that would be a compelling case for many users.

I'd be interested to see if this is that attempt by Google.

Reply Score: 2