Why the Pixelbook Go has given me Chromebook envy

Jack Wallen purchases a new Chromebook for his wife and comes down with a serious case of Chromebook envy.

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Image: Jack Wallen

Recently, I decided my wife's struggles with her Google Pixelbook (Wi-Fi and Bluetooth issues have plagued that device) had reached their apex, and it was time to replace her Chromebook. She'd been struggling with the Pixelbook for years, and it was time to put those trials to rest. She uses her Chromebook for business, streaming services, and general browsing, so I knew her requirements, and a discriminating tech palate demanded something a bit extra than the average machine. On top of which (Wi-Fi and Bluetooth aside), she was accustomed to the outstanding keyboard and trackpad of the Pixelbook.

Considering she always turns to me on issues of technology, I decided to surprise her and order the Pixelbook Go: 128 GB of internal storage, 8 GB of RAM, an i5 CPU, and a matte black finish. A few short days later, the laptop arrived, and we opened the box.

A hot minute after firing the laptop up, I had a serious case of Chromebook envy.

To be fair, I don't use a Chromebook nearly as much as I used to. Personally, I need access to multiple email accounts and prefer to use a more traditional desktop client for such purposes. Because of that, my Chromebook usage is relegated to social networking and general browsing--when I'm not near my go-to MacBook Pro M1.

I know, shame on me--I should be using a Linux laptop. I have one, but the trackpad and keyboard do not reach the standards to which I am accustomed.

The keyboard and trackpad to which I judge all others belongs to my 2015 Pixel Chromebook. To this day, that piece of genius hardware has yet to be bested. On top of that, it has that extra tall display that makes writing an absolute joy. So much screen, so much brightness. In fact, that Pixel Chromebook really ruined other laptops for me.

Until the Pixelbook Go. 

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A keyboard for the ages

Don't get me wrong, the Go doesn't have the screen of the Pixel, and the trackpad isn't quite as big and smooth, but that keyboard. That keyboard is smooth, silent, and offers the perfect feedback. In fact, I'd go so far as to say the Pixelbook Go has the best keyboard I've ever experienced on a laptop. It's that good. 

If the keyboard on a laptop is your number one priority, stop reading now, put a Pixelbook Go in the shopping cart, and buy, buy, buy. Otherwise, keep reading.

CPU cycles to burn

You might think, at this point in the game, an i5 CPU is underpowered. Given where we are in the processor game, that's a pretty safe assumption. However, on a Chromebook, that processor might as well be a Ryzen Threadripper. Combined with a scant 8 GB of RAM (which is funny how that is considered mid-range), the laptop feels far more powerful than its specs. Fifteen tabs open? The Pixelbook Go shrugs it off like it's having Sunday brunch with the family.

A chassis to please everyone

My wife lives a rather monochromatic life (which goes hand-in-hand with her chosen profession of hair stylist), so black was the obvious choice. Most laptops are black, and few of those beasts manage to stand out much in a crowd. The Pixelbook Go is a different story altogether. The matte finish, combined with a coating that makes it really grip-able, this laptop looks and feels special. 

The underside of the laptop has a wavy surface that serves two purposes: Keeps it from sliding off your legs and dissipates heat. While using the Pixelbook Go, you never feel any heat from the bottom, which is quite different from my 2015 Pixel, which can get pretty toasty. 

Sights and sounds to impress

Although the Pixelbook Go can't match either the Pixel or the MacBook Pro displays, it does a very good job of holding its own. The specs on the display are a 13.3" HD touchscreen display at 1920x1080 (166 ppi), so it's no slouch. 

What does really impress is the sound. The Pixelbook Go bests every laptop in the house in clarity and decibels. Unlike the MacBook Pro M1, which disappoints in sound category, the Pixelbook Go is one of the first laptops I've ever experienced where I didn't feel the need to plug in a pair of headphones just to tolerate the sound. There's actual depth and tone, which is a breath of fresh air from a laptop.

The price

Here's the sticking point for many: The Pixelbook Go isn't cheap. The model I purchased came in just under $900. For some, that's far too much for a laptop that runs ChromeOS. For me, the experience of mobile hardware goes beyond just the operating system. A laptop can have the greatest OS on the planet, but if the hardware is lacking, I might not want to use it (which is the main reason why I've shrugged off Linux laptops for so long--I'm very particular about hardware).

The Pixelbook Go ticks off every single box on my list.

If you're willing to drop the coin, this laptop will not disappoint. The combination of brilliant hardware and an OS focused on simplicity and reliability is a winning combination sure to please any user.

Although we don't usually rate hardware here on TechRepublic (because everything is subjective), if I had to rate the Pixelbook Go, it'd get a solid 9/10 from me. Why deduct that one point? Because I'd like to see Google try even harder next time around to reach that goal of 10/10. Until then, grab a Pixelbook Go and enjoy what will probably be the best Chromebook you've ever used.

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