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Google earlier this month unveiled the Pixelbook Go, a new premium Chromebook that's similar to a MacBook Air or a MacBook Pro, but Chrome OS.

In our latest video, we went hands-on with the Pixelbook Go to see how it measures up to Apple's MacBook Air (the two have similar price points) and whether or not it can serve as a MacBook Air replacement.


Design wise, the Pixelbook Go looks rather similar to a MacBook featuring a lightweight chassis, a large trackpad, a 13-inch display with slim side bezels and a thicker top/bottom bezel, a keyboard with speaker grilles at each side, and a similar hinge mechanism.

A G logo at the top and a wavy, bumpy textured feel at the bottom sets it apart from the MacBook Air. Like Apple's MacBooks, the Pixelbook Go offers a simple, clean design.

pixelbookmacbookair1-800x450.jpg

Pricing on the Pixelbook Go starts at $649 for an Core M3 processor and 64GB of storage, but we tested the upgraded Core i5 model with 8GB RAM and 128GB of storage, which is priced at $849. That's the model most similar to the entry-level MacBook Air, which comes with a 1.6GHz Core i5 processor, 128GB of storage, and 8GB RAM for $1,100.

The Pixelbook Go is cheaper than the MacBook Air, but there are some areas where it is definitely lacking in comparison. When it comes to the display, for example, it's adequate, but the HD quality just doesn't measure up to the MacBook Air's Retina display. There is an upgraded version of the Pixelbook Go with a 4K display, but that machine is priced at $1,400.

One area where the Pixelbook Go shines is its keyboard. The keyboard doesn't look too different from a MacBook keyboard, but it's super quiet thanks to Google's Hush Keys feature, satisfying to type on, and has the perfect amount of key travel. There are also custom keys, including a key for activating Google Assistant. There are speakers located to each side of the keyboard, and the sound quality is solid. The speakers are a touch louder than the MacBook Air's speakers at maximum volume, but the MacBook Air wins out when it comes to sound quality.

pixelbookmacbookair2-800x450.jpg

There's a MacBook Air-style trackpad on the Pixelbook Go, but MacBook competitors often have a hard time replicating the feel of Apple's trackpad, and the Pixelbook Go is no exception. There's a physical trackpad button that feels clunky and outdated compared to Apple's Haptic Trackpad.

The Pixelbook Go offers up to 12 hours of battery life, which is the same claim that Apple makes about the MacBook Air. In practice, we see around five to eight hours of battery life from the MacBook Air depending on usage, and the Pixelbook Go has been hitting around eight hours.

There are two USB-C ports on Pixelbook Go (one on each side) along with a 3.5mm headphone jack, which is the same general port setup the MacBook Air offers, though the MacBook Air supports Thunderbolt 3.

What really sets the Pixelbook Go apart from the MacBook Air is the operating system. While the MacBook Air runs the full version of macOS, the Pixelbook Go uses Chrome OS. Chrome OS is a Linux-based OS that supports Chrome apps and some Android titles, but it is in general more limited in scope than macOS.

pixelbookmacbookair3-800x450.jpg

Chrome OS is designed for everyday tasks like browsing the web, creating documents, taking notes, and sending emails rather than more specialized tasks like photo and video editing. Technically, most people who buy something like an entry-level MacBook Air are probably primarily using it for the same purposes, but you do have a bit more flexibility with macOS.

The option to download Android apps has made Chrome OS more useful over the course of the last several years, and there are, for example, apps for photo and video editing, though we wouldn't recommend them for regular full-time usage.

All in all, for most people, the upgrade to the MacBook Air over the Pixelbook Go may be worth the price differential given the better screen quality and the option to use macOS, though it's still much cheaper than the MacBook Air when it comes to the entry-level $649 option. The Pixelbook Go is one of Google's nicest Chromebooks in terms of design, hardware, and the complete Google experience, so it is likely the better choice for those who prefer a Google ecosystem.

What do you think of the Pixelbook Go? Would you use it over a MacBook Air? Let us know in the comments.

Article Link: Hands-On With Google's MacBook Air-Style Pixelbook Go
 

Shanghaichica

macrumors G5
Apr 8, 2013
14,656
13,148
UK
I had a chrome book before I got my MacBook Air. It was good for my uses. I like the idea of a chrome book. I like minimal computing. I prefer the MacBook Air for its integration within the Apple ecosystem, however I could easily use a chromebook. I don’t need anything more than a current smartphone or tablet can do. So a chromebook fits into that.
 

badatusernames

macrumors 6502
Jul 1, 2018
390
805
Can it only run Chrome OS? If so, then it's a decent price but might be a deal breaker for some users.
 

konqerror

macrumors 68020
Dec 31, 2013
2,298
3,701
Only because one is a glorified web browser, and another is a .. computer.

That runs a web browser. On an ultraportable, you aren't going to be running Final Cut Pro or other heavy applications. You're going to be browsing the web, or else running productivity (email, calendar, chat, word processing) that can very well be replaced by a web app, if they haven't been already (Electron apps). The only real benefit is probably the full versions of Microsoft Office.
 
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page3

macrumors 6502a
Feb 10, 2003
814
775
Outside the EU
Chrome OS is designed for everyday tasks like browsing the web, creating documents, taking notes, and sending emails rather than more specialized tasks like photo and video editing. Technically, most people who buy something like an entry-level ‌MacBook Air‌ are probably primarily using it for the same purposes,
I wonder what the author has based this assumption on? Certainly here everyone I know who has a MacBook Air (entry) uses it for a huge amount more than basic everyday tasks - from designing new engineering products, to systems development work, to creative marketing design, to creating customer schematics etc etc. Perfectly capable and powerful machine.
 

TechieGeek

macrumors 6502
Mar 12, 2012
260
561
This laptop may not make the most sense for consumers, but it’ll be fantastic for businesses. For employees on the business / engineering / retail side, who don’t need to use Adobe, this is a far cheaper choice that Apple, far more reliable choice than PC, and still hits the mark on battery life, keyboard, trackpad, etc.
 

themikedshaffer

macrumors member
Jun 5, 2013
46
39
No, I wouldn't use it over a MacBook Air.. Only because one is a glorified web browser, and another is a .. computer.
If you aren't a developer or a gamer or a couple of other very specific vertical users...what exactly do you need a 'computer' for? If you're not ensnarled in the Apple ecosystem, what do you need a MacOS computer for? I write code all day, every day on a MBPro ... but at home, ChromeOS is my jam. My kids use them at their school, my retired parents use theirs...as much as it pains me to say this...they just work. We all have iPhones but move our pictures to Google Photos, I have an AppleTV but occasionally watch Netflix and Hulu on my Chromebook... There just isn't a lot of things that don't run in a browser these days...
 

msurtees

macrumors newbie
Aug 13, 2010
8
11
That runs a web browser. On an ultraportable, you aren't going to be running Final Cut Pro or other heavy applications. You're going to be browsing the web, or else running productivity (email, calendar, chat, word processing) that can very well be replaced by a web app, if they haven't been already (Electron apps). The only real benefit is probably the full versions of Microsoft Office.

For the Air you're right on the money aside from working only in web browsers. Google searches are bad enough at tracking you and logging even your non-Google websites...since you have to use your Google accounts on a Chromebook I'd avoid. I can only imagine Facebook coming out with a pc and FaceOS (LOL)...no one here would buy it.
 

Shanghaichica

macrumors G5
Apr 8, 2013
14,656
13,148
UK
I wonder what the author has based this assumption on? Certainly here everyone I know who has a MacBook Air (entry) uses it for a huge amount more than basic everyday tasks - from designing new engineering products, to systems development work, to creative marketing design, to creating customer schematics etc etc. Perfectly capable and powerful machine.
We are all different. I have a MacBook Air and use it for exactly the things described in the article. I even had a chromebook before I had the MacBook air. They have the same qualities that I need: Thim, light, portable, nifty performance, quickly going from sleep to wake, minimal maintenance, good integration with cloud services. Good keyboard and trackpad. The chromebook I had (Samsung series 3) was heavily inspired by the MacBook Air.
 

falainber

macrumors 68040
Mar 16, 2016
3,458
4,039
Wild West
I wonder what the author has based this assumption on? Certainly here everyone I know who has a MacBook Air (entry) uses it for a huge amount more than basic everyday tasks - from designing new engineering products, to systems development work, to creative marketing design, to creating customer schematics etc etc. Perfectly capable and powerful machine.
There are much more appropriate computers for the tasks you described. Why would anyone use MBA for that? To limit your productivity?
[automerge]1572035513[/automerge]
That's a lot of money for running a browser with a severely limited App ecosystem.

An iPad has more useful Apps for it than Chrome.
It can run Android apps. Is there any other ecosystem with more apps than that?
 

mrkite77

macrumors member
May 8, 2019
94
102
A G logo at the top and a wavy, bumpy textured feel at the bottom sets it apart from the ‌MacBook Air‌.

One other thing.. you can always recognize chromebooks by the fact that they're the only ones who realize that a lowercase keyboard looks so much better than an allcaps keyboard.
 

mrkite77

macrumors member
May 8, 2019
94
102
The Chrome Book can’t run Windows software. It’s basically an Android phone in a laptop form factor.

The Mac can run Mac OS X software, and it can boot into Windows and run Windows software. It’s a real computer.

Chromebooks can also run Linux software.. they're real computers.

"Linux (Beta) is a feature that lets you develop software using your Chromebook. You can install Linux command line tools, code editors, and IDEs on your Chromebook"

https://support.google.com/chromebook/answer/9145439?hl=en
 

calzon65

macrumors 6502a
Jul 16, 2008
943
3,563
Plenty of companies can create copy-cat Mac computers, but they can't match MacOS and the eco system.
 

page3

macrumors 6502a
Feb 10, 2003
814
775
Outside the EU
There are much more appropriate computers for the tasks you described. Why would anyone use MBA for that? To limit your productivity?
[automerge]1572035513[/automerge]

It can run Android apps. Is there any other ecosystem with more apps than that?
No, there really isn’t. Equally appropriate perhaps, but not more so.
 

NickName99

macrumors 6502a
Nov 8, 2018
946
2,752
Chromebooks can also run Linux software.. they're real computers.

"Linux (Beta) is a feature that lets you develop software using your Chromebook. You can install Linux command line tools, code editors, and IDEs on your Chromebook"

https://support.google.com/chromebook/answer/9145439?hl=en

It can’t run Windows applications, and it can’t run Mac applications. I mean I appreciate hipster stuff, but come on.
 

realtuner

Suspended
Mar 8, 2019
1,714
5,053
Canada
There are much more appropriate computers for the tasks you described. Why would anyone use MBA for that? To limit your productivity?
[automerge]1572035513[/automerge]

It can run Android apps. Is there any other ecosystem with more apps than that?
Android Apps are inferior to iOS Apps. We’ve had this discussion before and this has been established as fact.

Android developers are too lazy to optimize for tablet devices. This is why Android tablets are useless except for the most basic tasks. Running non-optimized “blown-up phone Apps” on Chrome is no better than running them on an Android tablet. In fact, it’s worse since there are still compatibility issues and not all of them work properly.

So whether you’re running Android Apps on an Android tablet or a Chromebook with its wannabee OS trying to run those same Android Apps, the end result is still vastly inferior to an iPad.
 
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