Time and technology continually flow by. What was absurd a year ago becomes common sense all too quickly. I’ve been a person that has believed in the potential for Linux desktops and laptops for years, but has not seen how they can fit into most people’s workflows. Like it or not Linux does not offer the same software that is used by most people, and even as software moved to the cloud most Linux machines continued to be ugly, bulky, things that looked more appropriate for 2005. I still can’t get my head around how hideous System76 laptops still are…
With Google’s new PixelBook we may finally be at the inflection point where Linux goes from be an also ran, to being a primary contender. I can say for myself that time has changed how I use my computer. Although I use a new 13″ MacBook Pro at this point I don’t use much that’s installed on the system. WordPress is obviously cloud based, Gmail, YouTube Tools, Accounting Software, and everything else I use I access from a URL. Right now the only local app I use is a $4 image editing one that I use to create the featured images for posts. So at this point my entire professional life is on the cloud, and just happens to sync to my different devices.
Previous Chromebooks have been decidedly low budget. Fit and Finish matter when you spend a ton of time on a system. A cheap keyboard is fine when you have to respond to an email or two, but for a decent amount of work a good keyboard and trackpad make life more enjoyable. Beyond that many Chromebooks sacrifice resources for price. Even YouTube and other cloud services still require decent local resources to run well. The lags from cheap processors and storage can be lived with, but is not something a professional wants to suffer through day in and day out. The new PixelBook looks to have high quality Fit and Finish, and the resources to back it up.
The PixelBook starts at $999 and goes to $1699. For that you can get an i5 or i7 Intel processor. You can get either 8GB or 16GB of RAM, and storage runs from 128GB to 512GB. The touch screen is 2400 x 1600 and you can buy an additional PixelBook Pen to be able to draw. Additionally the laptop is designed to fold back on itself so you can use it as a tablet.
I have to say that if I hadn’t bought a new MacBook Pro I would be interested in this. It does what most people need to do. It only has 2 USB C ports, but I don’t believe the folks that would buy this would need more. To be clear this is not a laptop in the same league as a MacBook Pro or a Surface, but… I don’t think it needs to be. If it does exactly what people need done, and it feels good while they work most people don’t need to connect storage arrays, and video encoders to their laptops.
One of the benefits of the ChromeOS over the MacOS is that you can use Android apps on the system now. As more companies go not just mobile first, but rather mobile only having the ability to run mobile apps may be far more important than whether you can install Word or FinalCut on a laptop. Things change, needs change, what was important no longer is.
I like what I see with the PixelBook overall and think the days of Linux in the mainstream are finally here. I have concerns about the machine being Google’s due to their increasingly shady business practices, but if you’re already married to their services I’m not sure what additional harm could be done by using a PixelBook. This looks to be a real laptop contender that supports users in the ways they use laptops today.