I’m going to be clear and right to the point from the start: I really love this Chromebook. I love the decisions Google made with it, I love all the parts it gets so, so right, and I love using it on a very regular basis. After spending the proper amount of time with it on a daily basis, it is so easy to simply fall in love with this Chromebook, and I want to take a few moments to tell you why. We’ll hit all the regular parts and I think you should read or watch all of it before choosing whether or not the Pixelbook Go is for you, but I also don’t want to beat around the bush. This is a fantastic piece of hardware. Let’s dive in.
If you recall in my earlier video and article, I talked about three things I loved early on with the Pixelbook Go, and one of those was the overall build quality. Simply put, this thing has all the qualities you look for in a great laptop. It is light (2.3 pounds), thin (just under 0.5 inches), attractive, cohesive, and rigid. The rounded edges and lines all come together to make for a very Google-y aesthetic while also projecting an understated, premium feel. I always loved the original Pixelbook’s look, but it was a bold design that demanded attention.
The Pixelbook Go is decidedly opposite of that, opting instead for a low-key attention to detail that continues to impress every time I pick it up. The magnesium alloy chassis is coated to have an inviting soft-touch feel while maintaining a light weight and rigidity I’ve not experienced very often in a laptop this thin. Portability and accessibility feels almost tablet-like and you can easily forget this Chromebook is even in your bag. Yet, when you do get it out to engage it, the solidarity you are met with inspires confidence and reinforces a feeling akin to luxury. It is rare for a piece of hardware to strike this balance of approachability and elegance, but the Pixelbook Go does just that.
We also have to mention the bottom texture that looks a bit like a panini grill. While it won’t help you cook anything anytime soon, it does actually make this device easily grippable and thus more inviting to grab-and-go portability than most. It is probably worth noting that the bottom is made of the exact same magnesium alloy as the rest of the Chromebook. The texture is just a product of its form, not the material choice. With those ridges, you also get rubber feet that run the entire length of the device, so this Chromebook feels solid on any level desk or your lap.
Also, the perfectly-weighted hinge deserves a nod as well. With its one-finger lift, I find myself using the Pixelbook Go around the office much the same way I would a tablet: grab it off the desk, engage whatever situation I need to, flip it open with a quick flick of my wrist, and away I go. Getting a hinge to open like this is a feat most manufacturers don’t bother with, but paired with the thin, light nature of the Pixelbook Go, it has been a feature that is not only a nice touch: it actually affects how I go about using the device. This is a Chromebook I’m inclined to pick up on a very regular basis, and that’s just not the case with many that I test.
Here’s what is interesting about this Chromebook; even its most pedestrian parts are still better than most. The screen on the Pixelbook Go isn’t going to win any awards or blow anyone’s mind. It is a pretty run-of-the-mill 13.3-inch, 1080p, 16×9 screen. The colors are punchy, the blacks are deep, the viewing angles are great, and the pixel density is more than plenty for this size of display. Oh, and it also tops out around 325 nits. When I read text or look at icons on the screen, I never really can make out individual pixels unless I get about 3-4 inches from the panel. From a standard viewing distance, most people wouldn’t be able to discern if it is Full HD or Quad HD.
Touch is on board here, but pen support is absent, making this display the most generic feeling part of the Chromebook. Here’s the thing: I never once felt as if I was short-changed or lacking something when working on the device. I never felt as if I was looking at a sub-par screen. It does what needs to be done very well, and also manages to save a ton of battery and processor speed in the process. 1080p screens aren’t nearly as hard on a CPU as a 4K or QHD screen is, so I really think 1080p was the right choice for the Pixelbook Go in most of its variations. We’ll see how the 4K panel looks and performs once it launches, but I’m very happy with the screen as it is on the model we are testing.
Keyboard and Trackpad
Now, back to the stand-out features. Let’s start with the keyboard. My oh my what a treat it is to type on this thing. Imagine the Pixelbook’s fantastic keyboard and the Pixel Slate’s ultra-quiet keys and you start to understand what you are dealing with. This keyboard cannot get enough praise. It has enough travel to satisfy, enough click to never have to guess whether or not you hit the keys, and so little clack that you’ll never bother anyone around you. With backlighting that has basically no bleed around the keys, you have what feels like the best keyboard experience on any device I can imagine. I 100% love typing on this keyboard.
The trackpad is no slouch, either. If a wide, glass trackpad with a subtle and reassuring click is run-of-the-mill, than count me as one who is more than happy with mediocre. No, there’s nothing fancy going on with it, but there doesn’t really need to be. Trackpads are functional things that simply need to perform, and this one does exactly that. The click is quieter than the original Pixelbook and the glass is larger and just as smooth. There’s really nothing else I could ask for.
Inputs & Speakers
I could see the choice to only leveraging two USB Type-C inputs being a bit of a hangup for some people, but it is fine in my book. Sure, we’re seeing many Chromebooks choose to keep around the USB-A slot and I like the versatility of that. However, I’ve fully moved to the USB-C life and I have little to no need for that large port any longer. USB-C ports give you charging, display output, data transfer, and peripheral support: most things for most users.
The port I’d really like to see here is a microSD card slot. The 64GB of the entry level model is fine, but I’d love to either see that at 128GB to start or give us a microSD slot. Personally, I have no issues with leveraging Google Drive in a way that local storage isn’t much of a concern, but I know there are many users who would love to have a bit more storage. Sure, you can leverage small USB-C drives all day, but that’s not exactly a replacement for built in storage or a card you can plug in and forget about.
The decision to keep the headphone jack is a welcome one. I’m really not sure why it was removed from the Pixel Slate, but with only two USB-C ports, it is nice to not have to take up a port just to plug in headphones or other audio gear. I know thin and light devices are cramped for space, but taking away very basic ports like the headphone/mic jack still feels lazy, so I’m glad Google kept it around.
The speakers on this Chromebook are mind-blowing. They just are. A laptop this thin and light has no business making sounds this rich, full and loud. No business at all! With the upward-firing speaker grills, I expected decent sound. In no way was I prepared for what came out of this tiny chassis the first time I played a Star Wars trailer. I can confidently say that I’ve never been so impressed by the speakers on a laptop in all my time around tech. I’d argue that most of you will also experience these as the best speakers you’ve ever heard on a laptop as well. I hoped for decent sound. What I got was way above and beyond that.
Internals & Performance
As for internals, the spec sheet doesn’t exactly make the greatest first impression for those who are into such things. The main issue? All the models are equipped with the 8th-gen Intel Core processors that power the Pixel Slate from last year. As a device that just launched into a sea of Windows laptops and upcoming Chromebooks that will leverage 10-gen Intel silicon, this could easily be viewed as a real bummer.
Don’t let yourself be fooled, though. One of the primary reasons the Pixel Slate was a tad sluggish out of the gate last year was poor software optimization that has been massively cleaned up in the past 12 months. Additionally, you have to remember that the Slate is pushing 3X the pixels the Pixelbook Go is, so you get a massive performance bump just in that spec alone. Add to that the fact that we’ve tested multiple Chromebooks like the excellent ASUS Flip C434 and C424 and never ran into perfomance issues. Those Chromebooks are the same 8th-gen, Y-series Intel chips that come in the entry-level Pixelbook Go paired up with screens that have the same 1080p resolution.
Even with the Core m3 model, you don’t need to fear performance issues at all. Our test unit is the Core i5 model, but I have no question that the Core m3 model will perform very, very well. Paired up with the m3, i5, or i7 processors, you get either 8GB or 16GB of RAM and 64GB/128GB/256GB storage options as well. Here’s the breakdown of models:
- Core m3
- 8GB RAM
- 64GB Storage
- 1080p Screen
- Core i5
- 16GB RAM
- 128GB Storage
- 1080p Screen
- Core i5
- 8GB RAM
- 128GB Storage
- 1080p Screen
- Core i7
- 16GB RAM
- 256GB Storage
- 4K Molecular Display
Battery has been quite stellar as well, not quite at the 12 hours Google is marketing (I like my screen pretty bright), but easily over 10 hours on a regular basis. If I let the built in Adaptive Brightness do its thing, I’d probably fair better. Speaking of that, this function works like it does on Pixel phones, learning your behavior over time and auto-adjusting the screen upon each log in or unlock. Once you manually set the brightness, it leaves you alone until you shut the lid and open it again.
Finally, fast charging is on offer here as well. Not that the Pixelbook was a slow charger, but this one is really quick. Plug in the adapter for 20 minutes and you’ve extended your overall use time by a full 2 hours. With the battery standing up this well on a daily basis, however, I’ve not really had the need to actually leverage quick charging very often. I’m glad its around, though.
I did a good job sharing with you why I love this Chromebook so much, but I didn’t exactly do it quickly. I said I’d be quick, but I also wanted to be sure to clearly convey all the things this Chromebook gets so right. At the end of that list of specs and features, however, there’s just the absolute joy of using it. There’s simply never been a Chromebook I’ve enjoyed using more. Sure, I’d love a taller screen. I’d love pen support to be here (more for others than myself). I’d love expandable storage. But those are small, small complaints. And, for those of you that feel those things are deal breakers, there are plenty of other great options and many more coming soon.
But for general users, I can’t express this clearly enough: if you buy this Chromebook, you will love this Chromebook. Google has chosen the right things to remove to get the price down on the Pixelbook Go, and for the first time in a long time, I can easily recommend the entry-level model. Unless you really need a ton of storage, it is absolutely the model to go with. And what you are paying for at $649 isn’t every bell and whistle available. Instead, you are paying for a distilled Chromebook experience that doesn’t try to do everything, but chooses instead to do all the things it does incredibly well. You are paying for the engineering and design on offer that no one in the Chromebook space has come close to matching at this point. You are investing in the fit and finish that only this Chromebook can provide.
In the end, there are going to be Chromebooks that launch later this year that will have more impressive spec sheets, more features, newer processors, and flashier designs. But I’m dubious that we’ll see another Chromebook come close to the feeling you get when using the Pixelbook Go. I think in nearly every way, Google just nailed it with this Chromebook, and I sincerely hope a ton of people give it a chance. At $649, there’s just nothing else quite like it.