Saturday, February 3

Review: The Google Pixelbook

I have wanted the new Google Pixelbook since it was released in October last year. I have the Google Pixel phone and hail it as the best smartphone I have ever had - I have scarily broken all my ties with Apple - goodbye iPhone and iPad and complicated storage cloud system.

The Google Pixel phone syncs seamlessly with the Pixelbook which was a leading factor when I decided to buy the laptop. It means all my Google Drive documents are available on either device without me having to manually sync them, or transfer with a USB - because, oh yeah, the Pixelbook doesn't have a USB slot, or an SD slot, or a CD drive. Scary. But again, that's okay because I am getting a wireless, Bluetooth enabled camera and I use Google photos. I can take a photo on my phone and it will automatically be on my laptop. Simples. It does have two USB-C ports though which works for me and my Google phone. Oh yeah and it has an audio jack (another slam on Apple).

That leads me into the software of the computer. It uses Chrome OS so I can have Chrome web extensions (apps) which covers the basic things I use my laptop for: Netflix, Spotify, Chrome web, Google Drive, YouTube. Then it gets better - it also enables Android apps - sorry Apple fans. That means I can't use programs such as Photoshop or Final Cut Pro, but then I don't use those programs outside of work anyway - and besides I plan to get a desktop computer in the future which will handle programs such as this, that I would want to use a mouse and a bigger screen for anyway - and wouldn't need on the go.

Oh yeah, did I mention that it has its own pen? The Google Pixelbook Pen has battery that lasts around a year, is Google Assistant enabled, has pressure sensitivity and works in sync with select apps - mine's in the post so I'll review that one later.

I can use any Android app on the laptop, which means I can use Instagram directly from my laptop after I edit my photos with Adobe Lightroom - or any of the lite versions of Photoshop on the Google Play store (Photoshop Mix, Photoshop Sketch, Photoshop Express Editor, Photoshop Fix). It even has a 720p and 60fps capture rate integrated webcam - great for Google Hangouts, Skype and general filming.

When it comes to actually using the laptop and the overall UX (User Experience), I would give it a 9/10 so far - I've only had it a day, but I am writing this blog post with it and so far it has had a very clean approach which goes hand-in-hand with my minimalist Scandi style. The screen is a lot smaller than I am used to at 12.3" compared to my Dell 17" screen laptop, but I am getting used to it - I will also be able to take it places as it only weighs around two pounds, unlike my old laptop which I have had since I started Uni, that felt like it weighed the same amount as me after a Christmas dinner after I'd lugged it around for a day. I'm hoping that with this much more compact and lightweight laptop it will encourage me to be more productive and write more as I won't have any excuses.

I have saved the best for last with the Pixelbook hardware, it is beautiful. It has an aluminium body and Corning Gorilla Glass detail and a backlit keyboard to rival the Apple Macbook. Either side of the edge-to-edge glass trackpad there are silicon pad palm-rests which are super soft and a much nicer alternative to plastic or fabric.

Oh yeah and it's touch screen. Yes, it has a touch screen - but you probably got that when I told you about the Google Pixelbook pen. I love this feature - and I'm sure my Dad will when he shows me gardening equipment and antiques on eBay and constantly tries to select things on the screen of my non-touch screen old laptop. Ah, parents.

There are also four different ways to use the laptop: laptop mode, tent mode, tablet mode and standy-up-y mode.

This means I can fold the screen 360 degrees and use my laptop as a tablet - great for drawing with the Pixelbook pen or delicate photo editing - I can't wait to try this out. This is also where the silicon palm rests double up as grip pads - the keyboard also turns off in tablet mode so you don't have to worry about accidentally pressing any keys.

That glass panel on the back of the laptop isn't just a pretty fascia - it is where the wireless signals come through - with my Google Pixelbook phone I can instantly tether my phone data to my laptop if there is no WiFi or I lose connection, and I can connect Bluetooth devices as well: something my old laptop could never do.

Lastly, the Google Assistant. I have got used to this digital assistant on my Google Pixel phone and love the persona, style and capabilities of it and now it neatly ties into the laptop - there is even a Google Assistant button if I don't want to voice activate it to ask it a question. It's great - it's not just a gimmick like Siri (you seeing a pattern with me here?). Whilst typing this post I can ask it questions like, 'How do you spell Corning Gorilla Glass?' or 'What are the exact screen dimension of the Google Pixelbook?' and I can find out straight away. It's like having your own research assistant while you write and it means I don't have to interrupt the flow of my sentence to stop and physically Google something (pah, remember those days?).

It also has a flat-key keyboard, (I know I said lastly before, sorry I lied, there's just so much to say), which is really nice to type on, as you can tell by this mammoth post.

Overall (and yes I am biased against Apple) this really is quickly turning into one of the best laptops I have ever used and I would highly recommend it to anyone looking to break away from the Apple trap or who already has an Android phone.

Hope you found my review useful - please let me know if there is anything else you would like to know.
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