Have you tracked the Chromebook in the last few weeks? The already limited laptop range is undergoing a transformation due to Google’s renewed interest in the product, while other software companies are taking another look at Chrome OS.
Recently, I wrote about how Chromebook Pixel 2015 became my most important laptop on my Surface Book and MacBook in 2020, despite both being big. Read that story here. But the main reason was simple: it showed almost no signs of aging.
As other, more accomplished, Microsoft and Apple laptops, under the weight of years of apps and files, my Chromebook remained out-of-the-stace in 2015. The only thing it uses is its physical battle scars from years of use and the fact that Google will end OS support for it next year, which I think makes no sense.
I have now upgraded the recently released Pixelbook Go (8th gen Core i5, 8GB RAM, FHD display) which is the successor to the 2015 Chromebook Pixel. There are some major differences, both good and bad.
The angular, brutal, design of the Chromebook Pixel 2015 has been replaced by Google’s new friendliness style: pastel colors, soft edges, lightweight and flexible. Nowhere is that more obvious than in a keyboard, which is fantastic to use and easily one of the best features of a laptop. Google has found the right balance of resistance and softness when typing.
But what really works best is that Pixelbook Go executes particularly well for Chromebooks. Open the lid, which has a good amount of resistance, and you’re good to go. There is no waiting for the machine to wake up. The only thing the process is missing is some form of biometric protection – Pixel 4K 3D Face Unlock would be welcome here.
It has the look and cost of a laptop compared to its $ 849 price tag (which is still quite expensive for a Chromebook), although you can get a cheaper $ 649 Core M3 model with 8GB of RAM. If you opt for more affordable models, thanks to the nature of the Chromebook, you won’t be penalized in performance with lower specifications.
Google says the laptop is “built to move” and at 1070 grams, the first thing I noticed was how light it was. This means that I still took it on some of the embarked trips. For example, I had to go to the hospital and knew I would have to wait to see, so I went to Pixelbook to get some work done while I waited. I did not do this with a heavy, bulky, laptop, despite the difference in weight and size being completely manageable. This is a strange trick of the mind. Being lighter than rival laptops appears to be more portable than a Pixelbook.
The downside is the lack of connectivity. Gone are the USB 3 ports and SD card readers from the older Chromebook Pixel. Instead users have to make-up with two USB-C ports and search Amazon for an adapter that won’t break in two months time. The headphone jack is thankfully, though.
I am still trying to make up my mind whether the famous functional FHD 1920 x 1080 display has a slight tint to it. It seems to be running a very light blue screen filter, but is not there. I had a similar issue with Google’s Pixel 4 XL display, but it was sure to toggle the Ambient EQ feature and play it with colors. There is no similar option on Pixelbook Go.
The performances are generally not very good on the Chromebook, especially against the excellent panels you’ll find on the more expensive MacBooks and Surfacebooks. I think it is part of the value-trading. Fortunately there is not a drain on the screen battery, which lasted 8–10 hours in the test. However the promised 12-hour battery life has never quite ended.
A story is told in the specifications, but another interesting story this year for the Chromebook.
This week Nvidia announced that its game streaming service is GeForce Now compatible Chromebooks. This is good news for Chrome OS users as it opens up a whole new world of content not already available.
Google’s Stadia has clearly always worked on Chromebooks, but Nvidia’s service offers more in free-to-play and paid-for games outside of Stadia’s carefully chosen selection. You can also access your Steam library through GeForce Now, so you can play games purchased through other stores.
Microsoft tells me that Project xCloud is not coming to Chromebook when it launches next month. But it’s not hard to imagine that it will happen at some point if GeForce Now and Stadia prove to be popular mediums for streaming games on ChromeOS. Now that schools are embracing Chromebooks for students, young people have a large user base that Microsoft wants to access.
Indeed, this was part of Nvidia’s thinking, as explained by Nvidia’s senior product manager Andrew Fierce to Jednet. “Millions of students have Chromebooks and GeForce. Now they can give them gaming in their downtime.”
There is also a new partnership between Google and Parallels that will bring native Windows apps to Chrome OS. Enterprise Chromebook users will (for the first time, at least) be able to run Windows apps locally on a Chromebook without an Internet connection or reboot. Of course, you can now access your Windows app via Parallels Remote Application Server, but this always requires an Internet connection.
Dual-booting ChromeOS on Chromebooks and Windows is not the ultimate goal for Google, it plans to access applications on both systems “seamlessly”, as a Google representative explained in an interview with The Verge. “In the future we’ll have other types of things where you don’t need to run the entire Windows desktop, you’ll just run the apps you need,” said Cyrus Mistry, the group’s product manager for the Chrome app.
You can already get by selecting decent Android and Chrome apps like Zoom, Slack and Adobe Lightroom on a Chromebook. Not to mention Linux apps that unfortunately should not be ignored like the “GIMP” picture editing app or the LibreOffice Document Suite. Couple all this with native Windows apps and within a year, the humble Chromebook has completely changed.
Pixelbook Go handles – and will handle – all of this perfectly. Specs of laptops are not shattering the earth, but Chrome OS is un-taxed as the aforementioned apps and services.
You can choose the Windows Surface Go 2 tablet and do everything mentioned in this article and more, as it can run Windows 10 Home (although the apps you can run are limited to its light specs ).
But this is where things get interesting, your Chromebook will be able to run Windows apps at some point in the future And You have access to Android apps. All in a more secure, and inexpensive (depending on which model you choose) package.
The most expensive version of the Pixelbook Go will set you back $ 1399, which in my opinion is too much for a Chromebook. The appeal is price, security and simplicity. Chromebooks should always operate just below the offer from Windows and Mac machines, otherwise the comparison may become mercury.
The model I am reviewing is a happy medium in terms of price and performance. Don’t get me wrong, you can’t run powerful applications like Adobe Premiere Pro, or run locally challenging video games, for this you need much better specifications and a different OS.
But for everything else, Pixelbook Go handles this with aplomb and explains the question of why you would spend more to do similar tasks. A good reason that businesses and schools are on a large scale due to the adoption of Chromebooks is that they are adequate for almost everyone. Unless you are doing expert creative work, these laptops are for you and the Pixelbook Go is one of the best in the range.
After years in the wild, the Chromebook is finally their day. They are good value for money now That’s why Because of new abilities and their longevity.
I know from personal experience that they are past, because I used my Chromebook Pixel 2015 solidly for five years and I only moved on because Google would not support it with security updates from next year. Otherwise it operates in such a way that it can continue for a few more years, before age kills it.
Hopefully I am writing one such article about Pixelbook Go in 2025.
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