The 12.3-inch laptop features a touch screen and can be folded in a variety of ways, giving it various options to be used as a laptop, tablet, screen, assistant, and more. It’s the first laptop Google has made that’s compatible with its home assistant, following Apple’s MacBook integration of Siri.
The Pixelbook will start at $999, and models will feature up to 512GB of solid-state storage and feature a variety of Intel Core i5 and i7 processors. The laptop also features a 10-hour battery that when empty, can get two hours of charge in 15 minutes via a USB-C cable. This is the same standard of charging cable as Google’s Pixel phone, as well as Apple’s laptops.
The tablet aspect is augmented by the option of buying a $99 stylus called the Pixelbook Pen, giving it a similar experience to Microsoft’s Surface Pro and Apple’s MacBook Pro. Google developed it with Wacom, a company famous for its styluses, and it has the awareness of 2,000 levels of pressure sensitivity and only 10 milliseconds of lag.
The assistant capability Google provided isn’t just oral-based. Google recognizes that you may not be able to always speak to your computer — at work, for example — and has a text-based version in which you can type a command. Similarly, users can use the stylus to highlight things and interact with the assistant instead of speaking. Circling a term, for example, will prompt a definition and other options.
Seamless connectivity is a growing theme for technology with computers, smart home devices, tablets, phones, and watches working together in harmony. To that end, Google will automatically use a Pixel phone as a bridge if there’s no Wi-Fi, using the phone’s LTE capabilities.
This suite of new computers is Google’s second attempt to elevate the Chromebook from budget-laptop alternative to a more serious computer tool. Google discontinued the company’s first high-end laptop attempt in March, the $1,299 Pixel Chromebook.
Google has gained significant hardware experience from a year of producing high-end phones, as well as its time running a computer operating system based on its web browser, Chrome, that many other affordable laptops use, especially in the education space. But the Pixel experience seems to have confirmed the company’s desire to be taken seriously as a high-end hardware company.
The Pixelbook will be available for preorder Wednesday, Oct. 4 and will ship Oct. 31.