Google Pixelbook Review: From A Small Spark...

Updated: Oct 6, 2020

UPDATE: Since originally writing this review and finishing it. They've already addressed one of my concerns and that's the app tray button. It now works on the "home screen". Which to me is a pretty big deal, because I can only imagine that I wasn't the first to notice and that other people's voices were heard and they fixed or adjusted it. All of this happened in the span of about a week. Which just goes to show, that though this device is still immature in what it can accomplish. It will grow and adapt very fast to the needs of the ones who have bought it!

From a small spark...that's the beginning of a tattoo my girlfriend has. It's in reference to one of her favorite books, Dante's Inferno. I'll tell you how that tattoo ends later. For now, here's the thing. When Google announced that they were releasing their first self designed high end laptop called the Pixelbook it was meet with great opposition. Okay maybe opposition isn't the word. However, people definitely were skeptical about a $1000 starting price point for a Chrome Book. No matter how cool looking. Well, the laptop has since been released and reviewed a few times over now. Except the thing is are these reviews accurate. Ability, functionality, battery life. How do those things do in the average person's day to day activity. Hopefully I can help shed some light on that. I'm not pushing the system to it's limits. I'm not trying to see how many apps and programs I can run at once before it begins to slow down. I'm using it as it was intended to be used. So lets see if this is possibly the right device for you.

There is absolutely no denying it. This device is gorgeous. The white on grey. The Glass on Aluminium. The screen. This is a well thought out design. Those silicone palm rests that also serve as skid resistance when you that the laptop in, as they call it, media consumption position. The silicone strips at the bottom of the laptop to keep it raised off the table and prevent it from sliding around. In tablet mode I personally find that there is just enough bezel to grip without accidentally touching the screen. I mean could they be thinner? Of course they could. However, this isn't the deal breaking issue reviewers make it out to be.

Now I don't usually like to cover specs because lets be real. If you're reading this, then you know it's specifications. You're here because you want to know if this could be the device for you. However, in the event that you're just 100% curious about this bad boy with gift giving day coming up. Lets talk specs. The base 7th generation i5 model comes with 8 gb of ram and128 gb storage. From there you can move up to an i5 256 gb capacity. Or for near 1700 you could go after the one that's still sold out to this moment ,the seventh generation i7, 16 gb, 512 gigs of NVMe SSD storage. Now that's just ice cold! The display is a 12.3" 2400 x 1600 Quad HD LCD! It's got a backlit keyboard, edge to edge etched glass trackpad, a 720p camera recording at 60 FPS, 2 USB-C ports, and a 3.5 mm headphone jack. SO, what does all this mean? You get a premium kick ass device that is not only fast, but beautiful to look at. However, lets drop that other shoe shall we.

There are some design choices here that makes things a bit awkward to say the least. First of all, there is no caps-lock button. Seems like a small thing I know, However, you never truly know what you've got till it's gone...and caps-lock is one of those things. Also, what they put where it should be IS in fact a useful button. It's supposed to bring up your app tray. However, notice how I said supposed to. Well that's because it only works if you have a window open. If you don't...then the button is useless. That's just weird to me. Either have it work all the time or give me back my freaking caps-lock. Another strange design choice was the position of the delete button. It's so far right that I often find myself hitting the +/= sign more oftern than not until muscle memory kicks in. I just wish that it was a little bigger or a little more to the left. However, that is most likely just a problem I'm experiencing. They also got rid of visible function keys, with the added option of turning on the ability to access the, This doesn't really throw me off all that much and actually are replaced by some great assist buttons. A back key like you'd find as a capacity button on phones or in a browser. A page refresh key. A screen fill key that toggles whether an app or page takes up the maximum screen real estate provided. As well as a few others. What does throw me off however is the fact that they opted to add dedicated volume up and down keys. This has always seemed like a waste of real estate to me on any laptop has a volume rocker. I get having a mute key, but the other two are just over-kill. So all that said, don't get me wrong. The keyboard is nice. I can type fast, it sounds good, and it feels great. And once you get used to the lack of a caps-lock and the delete button. It should be pretty smooth sailing. And hopefully they can fix the apps drawer functionality with an update or patch.

Time to talk performance. Which is, as you would expect it to be. This computer is crazy fast, ridiculously smooth, hulk strong. The problem comes from having all that power with nothing to use it on. Now one of the things long time chrome users were excited for was the ability to download android apps from the play store. Which you absolutely can, however, most of these apps don't work for shit. The ones that do don't work well. And in the rare event you get one that does work well, it doesn't look great. There is so much work that needs to be done here it's kind of ridiculous. And hey, I get it. A lot of that work is on the developer; and one can only hope this forces them to start thinking a little bit more about us Chrome users. But right now, a lot of the hype was built around that access to the Play store which currently isn't a fully fleshed out experience.

There are also small caveats I'm having with my device. Every now and then when I exit an app I get get a black screen. The device still works, but I have to tap the screen or hit a key for it to come back. I don't know if that's just my device, the app, or a software issue. Also at times when playing sound it gets a bit of static that comes and goes as it pleases. Again, I don't know if this is an issue of hardware or software, however it's annoying. Bottom line is that THIS is that laptop is that small spark I was talking about in the beginning. The whole of the phrase goes as such. From a small spark comes a great flame. The Pixelbook is a magnificent device. It's the equivalent of calling a body builder to lift a feather. The OS is smooth and chrome has never ran better. However, with all that power there isn't a lot that you can do with it yet. The apps aren't optimized for laptop yet and the ones that are work a bit poorly. And though I don't have a problem with tablet mode. I bought a laptop for the purposes of having a laptop. The 2 in 1 was a bonus. The hope is the software will catch up to the specs sooner than later, however, when they do. Get your marshmallows because that will be that great flame we've all been looking for. So to say that I personally am unhappy with the device would be an over statement. It's more disappointing than anything else. So with the $1000 price tag...Is.It.Worth.It? With so many great and equally priced devices out there? Well it is to me. This is an investment in a device that will get greater over time. For now all I do is use the internet and edit photos anyway. So why not do that on the best internet based laptop created.