It is leak season around here and there has never been a piece of hardware that has leaked like the Pixel 4. Because of this climate, it is only right that the new Pixelbook Go also leaked out, albeit in a much more standard, non-laid-bare sort of way. While we love the fact that we know a new Pixelbook is on the way and we are happy that we have some details around it, the more we’ve considered the leaked info, the more we’ve realized there are an absolute litany of details we still don’t know about this upcoming Chromebook.
Sure, we know from the leaked info and prior commits and bug reports that the Pixelbook Go will come equipped with a 13.3-inch 16:9 Molecular Display (branded like the Pixel Slate) in either FHD or 4K variations. Again, those details are great to know, but size and pixel count don’t really tell the story of a screen.
For instance, how bright will it be? With so many models shipping with sub-200 nits of brightness, this is becoming a point of contention with modern Chromebooks. Google needs to make sure this display is at least as bright as the current Pixelbook if not a tad brighter. With a 450-500 nit screen, the Pixelbook Go could be the brightest screen on a Chromebook to date and help users that are truly on the go get to deal with any lighting situation they run into.
With the Molecular Display branding, I’d assume colors will be rich and vibrant like we saw on the similarly-branded Pixel Slate screen. It had great color and viewing angles, but I could have used a tad more brightness from that display, and I’m hoping the Pixelbook Go doesn’t disappoint.
We also don’t know about the refresh rate, but we have a suspicion that we may see a 90hz screen to match up with the Pixel 4 if current work in the Chromium Repositories is any indicator. Sure, we don’t know for sure that they will include a high-refresh rate screen, but the work is being done to support it and the time seems right to see the first Chromebook with a higher-than-60-hz screen.
Build Quality & Aesthetic
From what little we’ve actually seen this device, I’m not impressed by the overall look of it. That isn’t really fair to judge as our looks have been severely limited in scope and the hardware could be far from final in these bug reports. With the Pixelbook and Pixel Slate both being well-made, high-end hardware, I’d expect no less for the Pixelbook Go, but we just don’t know for sure at this point.
The leak indicates the device will be made of a Magnesium Alloy similar to what we see on Microsoft’s Surface devices, but that comparison can only go so far. Until we hold the device and feel the rigidity, lightness, and quality of the build, knowing the build materials can only tell us so much at this point. If you remember, the Samsung Chromebook Pro and Plus were also made of Magnesium Alloy and felt a tad cheap, so there’s surely variations in quality, here. Additionally, I’d hope we see a weighted, solid hinge since we aren’t having to deal with a convertible this time around. As with all top-tier devices, this one should open with a single hand easily.
We do know that it will come in multiple colorways, but we don’t know how many at this point. The leak included info about the black and pink-ish versions, but there was no indication these were the only two versions. I’m hopeful we may see an additional white/silver combo as I simply love the Pixelbook’s style and aesthetic even two years after launch. We use it in featured images constantly because the look of the Pixelbook is unmatched by any other device on the market. I sincerely hope it doesn’t get a sequel that just looks like any other clamshell notebook out there.
Keyboard and Trackpad
Nothing was said at all up to this point about the keyboard and trackpad. The original Chromebook Pixel, 2015 Pixel, Pixelbook and Pixel Slate all had standout keyboards and trackpads. I have no issue whatsoever with any of these devices, and though we don’t have any firm details or leaks to corroborate this, I cannot fathom a scenario where Google ships a Chromebook that has anything less than stellar input methods.
If I were to wager a guess, I’d assume we’ll see a large glass trackpad and a keyboard ripped right from the original Pixelbook. The keyframe on the Pixelbook is second to none and a larger trackpad would make sense as this won’t be a convertible device and input via trackpad will be more important than ever.
The leak let on that the Pixelbook Go will have much more powerful speakers than the Pixelbook, but that isn’t saying much. The Pixelbook’s speakers are one of its few weak points, and it is weaker than most in this category. Just putting in speakers that are “much more powerful” than the Pixelbook isn’t enough when Google has delivered such gems as the front-firing speakers on the Pixel Slate.
In sharp contrast, the speakers are one of my favorite parts of the Slate even though I don’t love it as a Chromebook or tablet. Though the leak spoke of front-firing speakers, it is unclear at this point where those speakers will live and if they will deliver the rich, detailed audio we all love in the Pixel Slate. If they do get that treatment, I’ll be happy to finally have a set of speakers in a high-end Chromebook that are worth listening to.
Finally, we don’t know anything about pricing. If the Pixelbook Go does ship with the 8th-gen Intel chips and simplified engineering (no 360-degree hinges), there could be some price cuts available. There’s no guarantee there, but this could easily be a way for Google to offer the base model Pixelbook Go at a much more affordable starting price. I personally would love to see $599 for the base model, but I have no way to make the claim that this will be the case.
I do know that pricing has long been one of Google’s in-house Chromebook issues. In a market now ruled by $400-$600 Chromebooks that are great performers with great build quality (and many more on the way), Google won’t be able to just sit back and try to sell a relatively-standard Chromebook for $999 this year unless it simply doesn’t plan on selling many of them. I hope that isn’t the case and I hope, for once, Google is in the game to actually win it. Priced right and built well, the Pixelbook Go might be Google’s first ever in-house Chromebook to do so. But, with so many unknowns at this point, we’re eagerly awaiting the full reveal in just under two weeks from now.