Yesterday afternoon, we were all treated to one of the largest wholesale leaks we’ve ever seen going into a major tech event.
Droid Life managed to leak the Pixel 2, Pixel 2 XL, Google Home Mini, updated Daydream View, and (our favorite) the Pixelbook.
While I’m super-excited to see this stuff and get a few scant details, I can’t help but feel a bit cheated. Did you ever peek at Christmas presents before Christmas? It’s OK, we all did it. Though you got the early look, there was something saddening about the early reveal that just stole the magic away from the big day, right?
That’s a bit how I feel in the aftermath of yesterday.
There is one other thing that is nagging me, though, and it is related. The overwhelming majority of comments I’m seeing on our site and others in reaction to the Pixelbook is a fairly united refrain of “it’s too damn expensive!”
I’m inclined to agree with everyone on this, but as I’ve mulled over it a bit more, I have some thoughts that go deeper than my pockets. No, I can’t explain away the substantial pricing structure, but I think if you hang on for a few minutes, we can lend a bit of reason to the situation.
First, let me explain why questions about high cost are a bit related to the Christmas analogy above.
We Saw Things We Perhaps Shouldn’t Have
A quick story.
The Christmas I decided to get an early glimpse of my present-opening future, a small snag occurred that I’d not thought of. You see, my parents were crafty and knew, to some extent, that I would be pouring over the gifts under the tree in search of one very specific box: the Nintendo Gameboy.
In their foresight, they decided to wrap up a meaningless gift in a box that was identical in size to the Gameboy. I don’t think they thought I’d peek, but they knew I’d be looking.
When I decided to slice the tape on the box, I was sure I’d see the Nintendo branding on the other side of the paper. Spoiler alert: I did not.
I don’t remember what was in that box, but it wasn’t a Gameboy, and I was crushed. I spent the next few weeks in anguish over the fact that I wouldn’t be getting the one thing I truly wanted for Christmas.
Of course, in the end, once everything was fully revealed, I got the Gameboy and a bit of punishment because my parents knew I peeked.
But that’s the thing about seeing behind the curtain, isn’t it? Most times, when we only have part of the story, it is easy to get bent out of shape over what will eventually be a non-issue.
My point here is this: we now have a couple mediocre pictures of the Pixelbook. And we have pricing and storage options. But we literally have nothing else concrete.
What We Think We Know
From our earlier posts about ‘Eve’, we feel confident the Pixelbook will be a 7th-gen Core i5 with 8GB or 16GB of RAM.
In other posts, you can clearly see this thing is getting the kitchen sink treatment with every conceivable bell and whistle. We don’t have specifics on build materials, screen brightness, keyboard quality, trackpad surfaces, etc. We have an idea that was solidified by yesterday’s details, but we still don’t have a full picture.
We still don’t know everything that the Pixelbook will do or be capable of.
What We Don’t Know
So, let’s look at what we don’t know at all to this point:
- What is all that storage for? 128GB, 256GB and 512GB of NVMe storage for Chrome OS and Android?
- Why call it Pixelbook? What happened to the Chromebook naming structure?
- What are the build materials? Their quality?
- How bright is the screen?
- How light is it?
- What’s the battery like?
- What processors are on offer, specifically?
- How good will the keyboard be?
- What tricks will the pen have?
And on and on and on we could go with this. There are still WAY more things we don’t know about the Pixelbook than things we do. There are things we assume and things we infer, but the fact is we still don’t know plenty about this device.
That is why seeing things early isn’t always a good thing.
At Least Wait For The Full Reveal
So, before everyone completely loses it about the pricing on the Pixelbook, let’s all take a collective breath and consider some things.
For instance, if this device is made with a class-leading screen, class-leading keyboard, class-leading trackpad, class-leading SSD, class-leading build materials, and class-leading battery life, does the installed OS change the price of those materials and that engineering/manufacturing cost?
Dell sells the XPS 13 with Ubuntu as an option instead of Windows and it isn’t any cheaper at all. At launch, it was actually a bit more expensive. My point is, the chosen OS factors into the consumer’s idea of value, but it doesn’t change the price of making a device with this much tech inside.
Is it priced high? Sure. If it ran Windows or MacOS, would we have the same reaction? No.
Again, I understand value for the dollar and that many folks want/need more function than Chrome OS currently offers, but there are plenty who don’t need more software and simply want better hardware.
Let’s also look at the fact that we’ve not yet allowed Google to position this device. There’s a nagging question that may not be answered until the event on October 4th: what is up with all that storage?
That one feature makes me curious more than the pricing and the naming structure. What are they doing with this thing?
With questions up in the air like this, I think we need to give Google room to explain itself. Sure, they may take the Chromebook Pixel route and simply say the Pixelbook is the best of the best hardware for their OS to continue growing on.
But there could be more. There could be things we’ve not yet considered. Perhaps in light of those answers, the pricing won’t feel as steep.
Perhaps it will.
All I’m saying is there are tons of questions that will be answered in two weeks, so let’s all give Google a chance to truly present a value proposition for the Pixelbook and then make our claims about its pricing. At least by then, we’ll be able to weigh solid facts about what it is or isn’t worth instead of basing our reactions on half-baked facts and early looks we were perhaps not meant to see just yet.