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The Pixelbook Go Can Do More Than You’d Expect

I relied on the Chromebook — even at work — for a week. It worked great.

Owen Williams
OneZero
Published in
4 min readFeb 3, 2020

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The new Google Pixelbook Go laptop is displayed during a launch event on October 15, 2019. $649 is the starting price.
Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

When Google announced the Pixelbook Go in October, many complained it seemed too expensive for a Chromebook, with prices starting at $649.

That’s because Chromebooks have generally been viewed as lightweight computers that are fine for watching Netflix at home, but aren’t great for work. They run a Google-built operating system called ChromeOS, and because they’re optimized for the web — built to run Google’s browser Chrome as quickly as possible without zapping the battery — they don’t include any desktop apps like Excel, Visual Studio Code, or Photoshop.

But I think this reputation is a little unfair. After relying exclusively on the Pixelbook Go for a week, I’m convinced that it is much more powerful than it gets credit for.

Google has positioned the Pixelbook as a “go-there, do-that” laptop with a battery that lasts all day and light enough to throw into a bag and take everywhere. As a manager dragging around a chonky 15-inch MacBook between meetings all day, it was an alluring sell for me. I dived in head-first, testing out the black version of the Pixelbook Go with an i5 processor and 8 GB of RAM.

Because I was switching to the Pixelbook Go from a MacBook Pro with the failure-prone butterfly keyboard, the first thing I noticed is the Go’s keyboard. It’s an absolute delight and one of the nicest laptop keyboards I’ve ever used, with a refreshing “clacky” feel. The rest of the computer reminds me of the black plastic MacBooks a decade ago — extremely light, without much branding.

When you first boot up a Chromebook, you sign in with a Google account. If you’ve used Chrome before, your entire setup will sync on the device, with all of your extensions and themes as you left them.

Many of us already live in browsers all day long, and I found switching to a web-based computer to be fairly painless. The company where I work uses Google’s cloud services and web-based tools like the design service Figma. That made transitioning to a Chromebook much easier.

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Owen Williams
OneZero

Fascinated by how code and design is shaping the world. I write about the why behind tech news. Design Manager in Tech. https://twitter.com/ow