October 5, 2017 // 12:05 p.m.
Google has officially announced it is taking the devices fight directly to Microsoft with the Pixelbook, a high-end Chromebook two-in-one device clearly designed with a view to competing with Microsoft's Surface range.
Announced at global events last night, alongside the expected Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL Android smartphones and an allegedly AI-powered automated camera, the Pixelbook is designed to sit at the very top of the Chromebook family. While based on the same Chrome OS operating system as its predecessors, a Linux variant which uses the Chrome web browser as its primary user interface and focuses on the use of web applications, its internals are impressively high-end: Behind the 12.3" 2,400 x 1,600 LCD is an Intel Core i5 or Core i7 seventh-generation processor, 8GB or 16GB of RAM, and 128GB, 256GB, or 512GB of solid-state storage - the latter using Non-Volatile Memory Express (NVMe) for improved performance.
'The way we use technology has changed so much over the past 10 years. We live online. We use tons of apps every day. We create and collaborate more than ever, and we’re constantly jumping across all our devices to get things done,' claimed Matt Vokoun, product manager for hardware at Google, during the launch. 'But while the way we use technology has changed, our laptops haven't really kept up. They don't run many of the apps we use and love on our phones. They're not as portable as tablets. And they’re not always as versatile and helpful as they should be. With Google Pixelbook, a new high-performance Chromebook, we're hoping to change this. We’ve worked to combine the best parts of a laptop, a tablet, and a smartphone, to fit how we use technology today.'
Described as a four-in-one by Google for its ability to run in laptop, tablet, reverse, and tent modes, the Pixelbook comes with a 10-hour battery, built-in voice-activated Google Assistant functionality, and support for the new Pixelbook Pen stylus for 60 degrees of angular sensitivity and 2,000 levels of pressure sensitivity with a claimed 10-millisecond latency. The Pixelbook also comes with support for running Android apps directly from Google Play, helping to address the relative lack of third-party support for native Chrome OS applications.
Google has put the Pixelbook up for pre-order on its official storefront at £999 for the Core i5, 8GB, 128GB entry-level model; £1,199 for the Core i5, 8GB, 256GB mid-range model; and £1,699 for the Core i7, 16GB, 512GB model; plus £99 for the optional Pixelbook Pen (all inc. VAT). The two lower-end models will ship at the end of the month, the company has confirmed, with the flagship version 'coming soon'.