Google Pixelbook brings back the high-end Chromebook

Last August, Google killed off the Chromebook Pixel. This move left the curious space of "high-end Chromebook" conspicuously empty. If you're in the market for just such a product now, don't worry, because Google's just announced the Pixelbook: a 12.3" fold-over convertible Chromebook packing Intel Kaby Lake CPUs, up to 16GB of RAM, and up to 512GB of solid-state storage.

Those are the top-tier specs, of course. The base model comes with an unspecified Core i5, 8GB of RAM, and 128GB of storage. A step-up model has 256GB of storage, while the top-shelf model has a Core i7 CPU and the aforementioned 16GB of RAM and 512GB SSD. Whatever model you choose, you get a 12.3" touchscreen with a 2400x1600 resolution. Google didn't specify the display type, but we'd be quite surprised if it's not an IPS LCD or some similar wide-viewing-angle technology. Google talked up the Pixelbook's backlit keyboard and trackpad as well, saying that both were designed for comfort and accuracy.

In every aspect, the Pixelbook appears to be a premium device. Its casing is crafted from aluminum, and its multitouch display is encased in glass. There's also a glass inlay behind the display for the Wi-fi antenna. Google says it's just under half an inch (10mm) thick and that, despite the premium materials, it weighs just a little over two pounds (1 kg). The company claims that its battery will last 10 hours, which is a refreshingly honest-sounding battery life estimate. The Pixelbook's battery will purportedly run for two hours on a 15-minute charge, too.

In its presentation, Google made much of the Pixelbook's integration with Google's other products and services. If you have a Pixel phone, the Pixelbook will automatically tether to its data connection when Wi-Fi isn't available. There's a dedicated key on the keyboard (down where you'd usually expect to find a Windows or Command key) for the Google Assistant. Tapping the key will bring up a place for users to type queries for Google's AI helper, not at all unlike using the Windows key to invoke Cortana on Windows 10.

It's not included with the Pixelbook, but Google is also offering what Ars Technica calls an "Active Electrostatic" stylus. Google creatively calls the Wacom-developed stylus the "Pixelbook Pen." Users can use the pen for the usual handwriting and drawing functions, but it's also Assistant-enabled. That means that while browsing or working, users can highlight words or images and Google Assistant will present relevant information about the topic or object in question. It's an impressive display of AI prowess.

Google is already taking preorders on the Pixelbook as I type this. It'll be sold on the Google web store, of course, but also at Best Buy and "other major retailers" in the US, Canada, and the UK. The base model with a Core i5, 8GB of memory, and 128GB of storage will run you a cool $1000, while the 256GB step-up model will run $1200. The version with the Core i7, 16GB of RAM, and 512GB NVMe SSD will set you back $1700. The Pixelbook Pen is an extra $100. Google says the Pixelbook will be available in stores on Halloween.

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