Thoughts on the Pixelbook Go leaks

Kudos to 9to5 Google, who on Monday reported exclusive details of the next Pixelbook, which apparently will be dubbed the Pixelbook Go. You should definitely read 9to5’s reporting which also has a video of the expected device, built on the board code-named Atlas, as myself and others have previously reported.

Here’s a quick rundown of the Pixelbook Go details, as reported:

  • 13.3-inch touch screen with 16:9 aspect ration and resolution options of 1080p or 4K.
  • A clamshell, not 2-in-1, form-factor so no tablet mode and no digital pen support; a step back from the current Pixelbook and Pixel Slate devices.
  • Intel Core m3, i5, and i7 processor options, although no details on which generation CPU from Intel inside.
  • Either 8 GB or 16 GB of memory.
  • Storage options of 64, 128 and 256 GB, very likely to be eMMC-based.
  • Dual side speakers similar to the Pixel Slate, which I believe to be the best speakers currently available on any Chromebook.
  • A 2 MP front-facing webcam, which lines up with the Sony IMX208 sensor support I noted last August.
  • Two USB Type-C ports
  • The standard Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connections you’d expect. No mention of LTE support.
  • Expected pricing similar to the Pixel Slate, i.e.; $799 to start, $999 for a mid-level configuration and $400 to $500 more for the top option.

The reported Pixelbook Go video and images show the same Chromebook I shared back in May of this year: A device with rounded corners, wide-aspect ratio display, and black chassis. 9to5 Google says there will be a “not-Pink” color choice as well.

So assuming all of this information is true – and I have no additional data to suggest that it isn’t – some immediate thoughts come to mind.

First is the name Pixelbook Go

My first thought was that “Go” referred to mobility and connectivity, with the Chromebook including an LTE option. But there’s no mention of LTE, nor have I found any Chromium code to support such an option. Instead, we know from an FCC filing back in July that the Pixelbook Go should use the Intel Wireless-AC 9260 chip, which supports 160 MHz channels of 802.11ac Wi-Fi for up to 1.73 Gbps transfer speeds and Bluetooth 5.

So Go may just be a branding exercise to target knowledge workers that don’t sit at a desk all day. Instead, they move around the office with Wi-Fi throughout. Perhaps the device is lighter to assist with that? If so, the device chassis would be plastic instead of the metal found in the current Pixelbook, and I don’t think that will be the case. Go doesn’t yet make sense to me although I’m sure Google will explain it on October 15.

Next is the processor choices

After the Pixel Slate Celeron debacle, a Core m3, i5, or i7 CPU makes complete sense. But there are key questions remaining: Will these be older 8th-generation CPUs at a time when new laptops are arriving with either 9th- or 10th-generation Intel chips? And will Google use the same Y-Series processors found in both the Pixelbook and Pixel Slate or will they put more powerful U-Series chips under the hood, which would raise costs?

Back in July, Geekbench test scores appeared online for a “Google Atlas” device using the same Intel Core i5-8200Y and Intel Core i7-8500Y processors as the Pixel Slate. Those don’t indicate with total certainty that these are the chips that the Pixelbook Go will use and I actually hope it doesn’t.

For one thing, the Pixelbook Go wouldn’t likely be considered a recommended device for Android Studio development due to the Y-series processors.

My Acer Chromebook Spin 13 with 16 GB of RAM

And frankly, given expected pricing, the Pixelbook Go with these chips would cost more than other currently available Chromebooks that have more powerful processors such as the Acer Chromebook Spin 13 I recently bought. Given the limited information we have so far, this is why I didn’t wait for the next Pixelbook.

Who is the Pixelbook Go for?

Traditionally, Google’s own Chromebooks have showcased the best-of-the-best Chrome OS experience. The 3:2 display aspect ratio for web work, the highest amounts of memory and storage available, and high-resolution touchscreens.

Again, I’m assuming the reported hardware description is accurate here, and if it is, the Pixelbook Go isn’t any of the above things. That’s because the high-end Chromebook landscape has changed over the past 12 or so months.

Lenovo Yoga Chromebook C630

There are very high-end, powerful options available in the aforementioned Acer Chromebook Spin 13, the Dell Inspiron Chromebook 14 and Lenovo’s Yoga Chromebook C630, which was the first Chromebook to offer a 4K display.

All of these options, which have been available since last year, have U-Series processors, above-average to very good displays, and a reasonable choice of memory and storage options. Oh, and they cost between $599 and $999 before any sale discounts, which happen frequently.

If the Pixelbook Go has lesser processor power and higher pricing, who is Google targeting?

Certainly not developers who need more horsepower. Consumers, who want the “best-of-the-best” in Chrome OS hardware? You can get that now and likely for less. Enterprise users? Sure, there could be some interest there but again, there are plenty of excellent options in this space already.

Let’s hope for some surprises on October 15

It’s worth reiterating that all of my thoughts are based on what’s been reported about the Pixelbook Go. And yes, there are some open questions still in terms of hardware details.

That’s why I’m crossing my fingers that when the Pixelbook Go debuts on October 15, some of the open questions are answered with improved hardware expectations. If not, I’d hope for lower pricing than both the Pixelbook and Pixel Slate as that could spur sales for those who still want a Made By Google Chromebook, don’t mind a clamshell device and could be swayed away from the currently available options offered by Acer, Dell, and Lenovo.

If all of the reported Pixelbook Go information is accurate, is it something you would be interested in buying?

14 thoughts on “Thoughts on the Pixelbook Go leaks

  • September 24, 2019 at 2:10 pm
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    As Google and others try to create Chromebooks that target corporate users, we should expect some missteps. This edition of the Pixel may have embraced several potential missteps. On the other hand, the Acer Chromebook Spin 13 seems to be spot-on (albeit for the minor weight issue).

    LTE might be great for guys/gals who spend a lot in the “field” away from the office. At least in my experience, companies pay for data subscriptions very begrudgingly if at all. So, if the company is willing to pay for an employee’s cell phone data, then the company will probably expect all of his/her other connections to tap the phone’s Wi-Fi hotspot, even though that’s not the most convenient setup.

    Reply
  • September 24, 2019 at 3:13 pm
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    I’m not entirely sure what market segment Google is targeting with this device. Especially given that this is their largest device yet that also cleaves off some features that are nice to have on the other Pixelbook devices available today.

    Combine both of those thoughts with the potential pricing in the same ballpark of the Pixelbook and Pixel Slate this device makes even less sense. Now, if it came in at a less expensive price point such as $499-$799 for a range then this makes sense as Google’s midrange device. Given the “Go” moniker for other Google, products mean something that has been slimmed down and designed for lower-spec devices (thinking Google Go series apps here)… It muddies the water a bit more. Even Microsoft’s Surface Go is the lowest tier of the Surface line.

    The 15th at least will be interesting for seeing how Google frames the use case and market for the Go. Not entirely what I was hoping for but I’ll wait and see.

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  • September 24, 2019 at 5:32 pm
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    “If all of the reported Pixelbook Go information is accurate, is it something you would be interested in buying?”. No. It looks extremely boring.

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  • September 24, 2019 at 8:48 pm
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    Cosigned to almost all of this, except that I wonder if you have the right take: “Go” is the branding for Android’s low-end stuff, right, so what if this is meant to be a low-end laptop to capture the budget market?

    Then it starts making sense: Why it’s using a plastic case, why it doesn’t have any tablet functionality, why it might be using the years-old internals from the Pixel Slate.

    If you take the $549 of the m3 Pixel Slate right now, and knock off a bit for it being cheaper materials and a cheap 1080p display, you could maybe be looking at $399 or so, and this could maybe be a compelling mid-low-end Chromebook.

    The main argument against that is that it scales up to Core i7 and a 4K display, because it’s hard to imagine that the construction details that’d make sense in a budget Chromebook could or should scale up to a $999+ one, but who knows.

    (And yeah, that’s the optimistic take. The pessimistic take is that they’re just screwing up and making mediocre hardware for no good reason, like you say.)

    Reply
    • September 24, 2019 at 9:19 pm
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      Good points and thoughts here, Mike. I’m almost hoping you’re right because a lower-cost “Go” Chromebook expain the branding. But…. if that’s correct, I still wonder, who is this for? There are plenty of options in the “low cost” range.

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      • September 25, 2019 at 1:38 pm
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        Could Pixelbook Go be the Chromebook equivalent of the Pixel 3a – cheaper, quality where it counts, mass market appeal, etc.?

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      • September 25, 2019 at 3:41 pm
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        If that’s true, I think the target is “organizations that are buying from other companies that make similar devices.” I mean, HP doesn’t say, “well, Lenovo already has that market, why bother,” they make the competing thing.

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  • September 24, 2019 at 11:28 pm
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    Agree. Wrong and higher pricing for Pixelbook Go will kill this device.

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  • September 25, 2019 at 4:48 am
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    This device is designed for me. I prefer a light chromebook with high battery life. So i do not really care about plastic (though I read titanium somewhere) and the Y fanless serie is a must have for its better battery saving capabilities. So a 4K core i5/7Y is perfect for my uses.

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    • September 25, 2019 at 4:51 am
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      Sorry not titanium but magnesium

      Reply
  • September 25, 2019 at 12:21 pm
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    Given the screen resolution and aspect ratio, would we expect some kind of Stadia intermingling?

    Otherwise, I’d agree – seems like ‘Go’ would indicate more of a ‘mid-range and trusty’ positioning rather than particularly high end.

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  • September 25, 2019 at 1:07 pm
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    I think the Pixelbook Go will be one of two chromebooks that Google will announce. A top-tier Pixelbook 2 may also be announced. If it is only the Go then it would show that Google is continuing to retreat from the tablet form-factor for CrOS.

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  • September 26, 2019 at 2:36 pm
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    This is the Pixel 3a of Chromebooks

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  • September 27, 2019 at 8:14 pm
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    lack of pen support is a deal breaker. Mainly because of companies like microsoft not making their android apps like OneNote available to install UNLESS you have pen support.

    Drives me crazy to this day.

    Reply

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