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 No fuss, no fiddling, no extraneous, outdated junk from 40 years of desktop computing getting in the way of browsing, e-mailing, and working with some simple documents.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?
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.
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.