In search of the finest Chromebook available? Then you need a Pixelbook from Google. I’ve been a fan of Chromebooks ever since the first Cr-48 model was released in late 2010. When Google introduced the Pixel, its first premium Chromebook, in 2013, I was sold. Over time, I retired my Linux-powered Lenovo ThinkPads in favour of Google’s premium Chromebooks. Why? Simply said, they’re the best laptops available.
Explanation, please. Chromebooks aren’t as versatile as other laptops like the MacBook Pro 13 or the Lenovo Yoga 920. Sorry, but that’s just not acceptable.
While it’s true that a Chromebook is optimised for use while connected to the internet when was the last time you completed any significant work while using macOS or Windows without access to the world wide web? There you go. In the decade of the 2000s. Of course, a high-end computer is required for video editing. While the internet may be the lifeblood of some industries, for the vast majority of us, it is the very breath of our profession.
More importantly, as my tech-savvy friend Mike Elgan observes, the most cutting-edge Chromebooks available today “more app compatibility without the need for dual or multi-booting. Apps for Android, Linux, and Windows can all be run in parallel on a Chromebook.”
What He Says Is True. Actually, I’m the One Who Carried It Out
Chromebooks of recent vintage have always been able to run Android software. CodeWeaver’s CrossOver allows Chromebooks to run Windows software. If that isn’t to your liking, you can now install Office 365 on certain Chromebooks and use it without any third-party software. Finally, Google’s Project Crostini will allow Chromebooks to run Debian Linux without any additional software. The latter is hardly unexpected, given that Chrome OS is based on Linux.
One could argue, “OK, OK, for an individual or small business, but our IT department runs on Active Directory (AD), we can’t utilise Chromebooks!” Of course not!
Google just just released Chrome Enterprise, an enterprise-oriented variant of Chrome OS. Your IT team may use Managed Google Play with an approved Enterprise Mobility Manager EMM and Active Directory integration for only $50 per device, per year.
In addition, I forgot to note that Chromebooks are compatible with Citrix thanks to the Citrix Receiver for Chrome extension, which provides access to XenApp and XenDesktop from any Chromebook. If you prefer to buy with VMware instead, you can take use of Horizon Client for Chrome OS and Horizon 7.
However, good budget Chromebooks like the Acer Chromebook 14 and the Dell Chromebook 13 3380 are capable of doing most of what the Pixelbook can. Mark Twain stated it best when he compared them to a lightning bug and a lightning bolt:
The highest-end Pixelbook has a quad-core Intel Core i7-7Y75 processor running at 1.3 GHz. The high-end Kaby Lake processors are made for ultra-thin laptops without fans.
The Pixelbook is under 2.4 pounds and measures in at 11.4 by 8.7 by 0.4 inches. Since it’s so feathery, I’ve had to double-check my laptop bag to make sure I didn’t forget it at home.
Even though I use it as a laptop ninety percent of the time, it’s also a tablet and a little television. The Pixelbook’s screen can be folded completely flat thanks to its robust hinges, allowing me to use it as a tablet or lie down on the couch with it and watch Lost in Space on Netflix. The speakers for the Pixelbook are housed in the cutouts near the hinge, so the device can be used in tablet mode and yet produce high-quality sound.
The maximum configuration of the Pixelbook has a 512GB solid-state drive. Additionally, you’ll receive one year’s worth of storage space in Google’s cloud (one terabyte’s worth) when you make your purchase. This portable computer has plenty of room for all of your data.
There are 16 gigabytes of random access memory within. I’ve had as many as 257 tabs open at once with no problems. And even if I do go over, I’ll still be able to run quickly thanks to all that SSD for memory swap.
How quickly? The CrXPRT benchmark developed by Principled Technologies was executed. Ziff-Davis Benchmark Operations is the ancestor of one of the world’s top private benchmarking companies, Principled Technologies. The Pixelbook received a 226 overall. In comparison to other systems evaluated, that’s more than twice as quick, making it the fastest result ever on this benchmark.
The Intel HD Graphics 615 chipset is what the Pixelbook relies on for visuals. As such, it provides support for a 12.3-inch 2400×1600 Quad HD LCD touch screen. The best way to describe it is as stunning. Also, the display has sufficient nits (the unit of visible-light intensity, not the parasites your five-year-old brought home from kindergarten) for comfortable use even when seated in direct sunlight. The Pixelbook’s Corning Gorilla Glass display can withstand your child’s attempts to use the device’s optional stylus to draw on the screen.
This laptop, made of metal and glass, is not only aesthetically pleasing, but also seems sturdy enough to withstand repeated blows without breaking. The keys are comfortable to press while still providing adequate tactile feedback. A top-tier MacBook would be hard-pressed to find a better trackpad than the one made of glass on this laptop.
The Pixelbook’s battery life is good, but not exceptional. My testing and use has shown that it has a lifespan of around nine hours. Wow, that’s fantastic, but I’ve had better performance from other Chromebooks. However, while rushing from one flight to another, I can charge it for a further two hours using its USB-C charger in just fifteen minutes. That’s fantastic.
The Pixelbook, like previous iterations of Google’s Chromebook family, is highly Wi-Fi capable. I have used it at conferences where everyone else was cursing because they couldn’t go online, yet I was able to work quickly and efficiently. In terms of Wi-Fi, it’s compatible with everything up to and including the latest and greatest standard, 802.11ac.