I tried the Pixelbook Go, Google’s new $649 budget Chromebook — here are my first impressions

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Google

  • At its big October launch event, Google announced a budget alternative to its Pixelbook Chromebook: the Pixelbook Go.
  • If you’re interested in a Google-branded Chromebook but didn’t want to shell out $1,000 for the original Pixelbook, the Pixelbook Go might be a good option for you.
  • You can preorder the Pixelbook Go now for $649, and it will ship on October 28, 2019.
  • I spent some time with the device at the launch event, and my first impressions follow below.

I never thought I’d be willing to pay $1,000 for a Chromebook. Then, in 2017, Google’s Pixelbook came out. It was light, with a gorgeous touchscreen, snappy performance, and Google Assistant built in. It earned every bit of its hefty price tag – I even preferred it to my MacBook Pro.

In October 2019, two years after the Pixelbook’s release, Google announced its budget Chromebook: the $649 Pixelbook Go. It’s a lighter, cheaper, and pared-down addition to the Pixelbook lineup.

I spent some time trying out the Pixelbook Go at Google’s press event. Here are my first impressions of the device:


It looks nothing like the original Pixelbook — and that’s okay.

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Monica Chin/Business Insider

If you’re looking for a high-end device like the Pixelbook, you’ll be disappointed by the Go. It doesn’t come with a stylus and it doesn’t work with the Pixelbook Pen. It doesn’t fold backward into a tablet. Instead of a 13.3-inch 1600p touchscreen, it has a fairly standard 1080p LCD panel.

In essence, the Pixelbook Go doesn’t look like a high-end 2-in-1; it looks like a standard Chromebook with the Google logo in the corner.

One of the design choices Google’s most excited about is the ridged bottom – it’s textured like a Ruffle chip. This is supposed to keep the device from slipping and sliding. I didn’t have much trouble pushing a unit across a flat table, but the ridges do seem sturdy enough that they might hold the device in place on an angled surface.

The Pixelbook Go is also compact, weighing just 2.3 pounds. Despite the fact that it’s not a 2-in-1 device, carrying it around feels like carrying a tablet.

Other than that, there’s not much that stands out about the Pixelbook Go’s design, in either a good or a bad way. The screen sports visible, but not enormous bezels. There are speaker grilles on each side of the keyboard. The outside is plain black, with just a large G in the corner for decoration. The Go also comes in a pinkish hue called “not pink,” but you can’t buy that version yet. Among devices like the Samsung Chromebook Pro and the Acer Chromebook Spin 13, it wouldn’t look out of place.


Chrome OS is looking better and better.

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Monica Chin/Business Insider

I watched several folks play around with the Pixelbook Go before I got a crack at it myself. If I didn’t know that the device was running Chrome OS, I could easily have been fooled into thinking they were using Windows 10.

Internet browsing was fast and smooth; I scrolled and zoomed quickly with no visible lag. I ran a video with a few tabs open, and the unit (powered by an 8th-Gen Intel Core i7 processor) handled the load just fine. In the full review, I’ll be able to provide more specific benchmarks and compare it directly to other Chromebooks.


I don’t love the keyboard, but you might.

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Monica Chin/Business Insider

Google is excited about the Pixelbook’s keyboard, but I didn’t love it. The keys don’t have a ton of travel, and they just weren’t clicky enough for my liking. I use mechanical keyboards at every opportunity.

But some folks prefer a quiet keyboard, and if you do, you might like this one. If I looked away, I could not tell that a user right beside me was typing.

I do like the dedicated Google Assistant key, which brings up the voice assistant immediately. I was never worried about hitting it accidentally while I typed, though your mileage may vary if you have larger hands.


When it comes to specs, you have options.

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Monica Chin/Business Insider

You can buy the Pixelbook Go in four configurations:

  • 8GB RAM, 64GB storage, Core m3 ($649)
  • 8GB RAM, 128GB storage, Core i5 ($849)
  • 16GB RAM, 128GB storage, Core i5 ($999)
  • 16GB RAM, 256GB storage, Core i7, UHD screen ($1,399)

Core m3 processors are generally only found in thin, cheaper devices, and you’re likely to see low battery life and performance compared to other machines. On the other hand, $849 is getting expensive for a Chromebook. You can get the Lenovo Yoga C630 with the same processor for $699. Ultimately, different people will prefer different models, and I won’t be able to say how well each performs until I’ve benchmarked the device.

Other specs you might be interested in:

  • Ports: Two USB-C ports, headphone jack. No microSD slot.
  • Battery life: 12 hours (according to Google)
  • Camera: 2 megapixels, 1080p video
  • Display: 13.3 inches, 16:9. HD screen has a 1,920 x 1,080-pixel resolution; UHD screen (Core i7 model only) has 3,840 x 2,160-pixel resolution.
  • Security: Includes Google’s Titan C security chip. No fingerprint sensor or face unlock.

You can preorder the Pixelbook Go for $649 — it starts shipping on October 28.

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Monica Chin/Business Insider

I’ll have to spend more time with the Pixelbook Go before I can render a verdict on whether it’s worth buying, and which model is worth the price. Certainly, there are plenty of sub-$600 Chromebooks that offer many of the same specs and features.

But I did enjoy using the device, and it looks nice as Chromebooks go. I can see it being a good purchase as a secondary browsing device, and it certainly might have the power to accommodate power users as well. We’ll find out when reviews come out.

Preorder the Pixelbook Go at Best Buy for $649+ – ships October 28


Check out our first impressions of the new Google devices

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Monica Chin/Business Insider