Gear

When Less Is More: Flipping Over The Google Pixelbook


This post is sponsored by Best Buy. As always, all opinions are my own.

My husband and I met over laptops, at 30,000 feet somewhere between New York and Toronto. It was 1995, and when we both slid them out of our bags, we laughed at the coincidence and struck up a conversation. The rest is history.

Looking back, neither of us are really sure why we had laptops on the plane with us— like, what did we even do with them back then? I might have used mine to write a college paper or two, and was probably messing around in very early version of Photoshop, but that was it: There was no internet, no email, and no life in “The Cloud”.  

The way we live and work is so staggeringly different now, and so are the laptops we use. First, tablets splintered the market by giving a mobile phone operating system (and its apps) a larger screen: Watching a movie or editing a photo on your phone was doable, but strained: On a tablet, it was so much easier. Then Hybrids, which are kind of like a tablet that identifies as a laptop…with the full keyboard and trackpad, but not exactly a computer. 

Recently, the Chromebook has become wildly popular. Created by Google to capitalize on how much of our lives are streamed or accessed from the cloud, it does away with traditional computer operating systems, and runs entirely through the Chrome browser. That would have been pretty debilitating in 1995, but now, it’s not a handicap: I do most of my work in cloud-based apps like Google Docs and Gmail, streaming movies or music and managing everything from my finances to my groceries online. If you’re the same, then the Chromebook is a lightweight, easy to use device that won’t bog you down.

The Pixelbook I’ve been using for the past week is Google’s latest premium Chromebook, and it’s a truly “less is more” machine, giving me lots of what I want and none of what I don’t.

A bendy, vibrant screen that can be folded back to comfortably watch movies or give presentations? Got it.

Sleek, efficient design and a springy keyboard that’s fun to type on? Check.

Integrations with Google Play store so I can run Android applications? Fantastic.

Google Pixelbook

The Pixelbook is ultra light, ultra thin, and ready to let you access your life online. It starts up in a flash, and the battery time is killer: Mine lasted for more than a day’s use on a single charge, though results will vary depending on what you’re using the machine for.

Some design features made my time with the Pixelbook surprisingly fun. Like the responsive touchscreen—really, all laptops should have them at this point— it gives you all the feels of a tablet without any of the the restrictions. I didn’t get to test the Pixelbook Pen (it’s sold separately), but having a pen to mark up PDFs, take notes during meetings, or sketch things on the fly would be helpful to me on many different occasions. Especially when I’m bored and just want to doodle (I get my best ideas when doodling, don’t you?).

The overall design of the device itself reminded me of one of my favorite quotes: “Perfection is achieved, not when there’s nothing more to add, but when there’s nothing left to take away.” The materials, the textures, and the lines are almost brutalist: nothing sensual or curvy about it, yet it felt warm, friendly and to the point. Two USB-C ports will let you charge or connect things on either side, and that’s all you’ll find: Again, less is more.

Google Pixelbook

Lastly, I’ve been living with Google Assistant for a while now (she sets timers in my kitchen, reads me my calendar events, and helps my kids with their homework), so it was great to see her built right into the Pixelbook. An integrated button means help is just a keystroke away, or you can wake her with the familiar “OK Google” to do everything from adjust your thermostat to play the Black Panther soundtrack.

Shifting from a laptop to a Chromebook like the Pixelbook is a bit of a shift in how you think about computing. You will have to be online almost always: Some of the Google Play apps can run offline, but its browser-based experience will rely on you being connected to the internet. Also you won’t be able to run full versions of applications like Photoshop, since it will only run Android apps, and not traditional computer applications.

Me? I’m hardly ever offline when I’m on my current laptop, and I spend most of my time in GSuite products and other cloud-based apps, so I don’t really feel like much is different when I’m on a Chromebook. Bonus: You won’t have to tend to a cluttered hard drive or keeping your operating system updated (automatic security and system updates will take care of that for you).

When you take away what’s not needed, what’s left is a powerful fast machine that has cast off many of the things that bog laptops down and kept just what you need to get things done and have fun.

Thanks so much to Best Buy for supplying the Pixelbook for this review. I had fun with it! As always, all opinions are my own.



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