Hardware

Google Pixelbook is a 'high-performance Chromebook' for professionals

Google's Pixelbook features Intel core i5 and i7 processors, up to 16GB of RAM, and up to 512GB of storage. Other features like instant tethering could make it a great tool for business travelers.

On Wednesday, Google announced the Pixelbook, a high-performance Chromebook that combines a laptop, tablet, and smartphone.

"Pixelbook reimagines the laptop experience by mirroring the best parts of premium performance hardware, the speed, simplicity, and security of Chrome OS, the smarts of Google Assistant, and all your favorite apps," said Matt Vokoun, director of hardware product management at Google, at the Made By Google event.

The Pixelbook is the thinnest laptop Google has ever made, at a slim 10 mm and 1 kg weight. It can act as a laptop, a tablet, a video screen with the keyboard tucked underneath to prop up the screen, or in a tented mode to share a screen or read a recipe, for example.

"It's the first convertible laptop that feels natural to use as a tablet," Vokoun said.

SEE: Mastering Google Voice: A primer for home users and small business owners (Tech Pro Research)

Pixelbook includes a glass inlay on the lid, for a refined look as well as improved wireless performance, Vokoun said. It also includes a high-resolution touch display on a 12.3" touchscreen, and a soft touch, backlit keyboard.

The machine also features Intel core i5 and i7 processors, up to 16GB of RAM, and up to 512GB of storage.

Google claims that it can hold up to 10 hours of battery from a single charge, and offer 2 hours of battery life after charging for just 15 minutes. It also uses the same charger as the Pixel phone.

When the machine doesn't have access to Wi-Fi, it automatically connects to the Pixel phone's network, in a feature Google is calling "instant tethering." "It's so much simpler than setting up a hotspot on a phone and manually connecting on a laptop," Vokoun said.

The Chrome OS also provides multiple layers of security and automatic updates.

Pixelbook is also the first laptop with Google Assistant built in. Users can treat the laptop the same as a Google Home by asking questions such as "What's the weather?" However, in quieter settings, a user can press the Google Assistant key, and type a request.

Google also introduced the Pixelbook Pen, a smart stylus with which a user can circle an image or text on the screen, and Google Assistant will immediately offer you more information about it. The pen allows users to write, draw, or take notes in the tablet version of the machine.

The pen features 10ms latency, 60 degrees of angular awareness, and 2,000-plus levels of pressure sensitivity. It also uses machine learning for handwriting recognition.

Further, the Pixelbook fully supports Google Play, so all apps available on the Pixel phone are also available on the Pixelbook. This allows users to edit a photo in Adobe Lightroom, and post it straight to Instagram, for example. Productivity apps such as Evernote and Autocad will also be available, making it easier to get work done across devices.

Pixelbook will be available in three configurations, starting at $999, in the US, Canada, and the UK. Preorders start today, and it will hit stores on October 31. The Pixelbook Pen costs $99.

Google Home Mini: An Echo Dot competitor?

Google also unveiled Google Home Mini, a small round hub to make Google Home and Google Assistant accessible to more areas of a home or office—essentially, their version of the Amazon Echo Dot.

"The way you interact with our products has to be so intuitive that you never even think about it, and so simple that the entire house can use it," said Isabelle Olsson, senior industrial designer at Google, at the event.

The enclosure is made out of fabric that Google designed, down to the yarn, to make it durable, soft, and transparent enough to let light and sound through, Olsson said. Four LED lights under the fabric light up to show that the assistant hears you, or is thinking. It can also be controlled by touch, giving the fabric a quick tap to pause the music, talk to the assistant, or adjust the volume. It also projects 360 degree sound.

Google Home Mini comes in three colors: Coral, chalk, and charcoal. It will retail for $49 in the US. It is currently available for preorder online, and will be in stores on October 19. The Home Mini will come to all seven Google Home countries.

The 3 big takeaways for TechRepublic readers

1. On Wednesday, Google unveiled the Pixelbook, a high-performance Chromebook that combines a laptop, tablet, and smartphone.

2. The company also announced the Google Home Mini, a small round hub that makes Google Home and Google Assistant accessible to more areas of a home or office.

3. The Pixelbook starts at $999, and the Mini Home is $49. Both will be available for purchase later this month.

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Image: Google/CNET

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About Alison DeNisco Rayome

Alison DeNisco Rayome is a Staff Writer for TechRepublic. She covers CXO, cybersecurity, and the convergence of tech and the workplace.

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