Google sent us the amazing Pixelbook to review, even though you cannot buy it in Irish stores
Google is a funny company. Its European HQ is in Dublin where it employs more than 7,000 people.
Yet for the past couple of years the tech giant has not bothered to service the Irish market with its own hardware products such as the awesome Pixel smartphones.
The Pixel 2 was widely acclaimed as best smartphone camera until the Huawei P20 Pro came along, but only the only people on this island who could buy it were those in the North.
It’s not uncommon for other tech giants such as Apple or Samsung to release key products in Ireland much later than the UK or U.S.
You still cannot buy the Apple HomePod in the south, for example, and when iPad first came out it arrived in Ireland several months after the UK.
But Google still has no plans to release Pixel 2 or its Home speaker range in Ireland, and it won’t be long until the 2018 models of these devices will be unveiled.
Yes, you can buy these great products using a proxy address service such as Address Pal or Parcel Motel but that’s not the point.
Another such product is Pixelbook, one of the most exquisitely-designed laptops I’ve ever had the pleasure to review.
Google has sent out a couple of these brushed aluminium framed convertibles to tech press in Ireland for review, but the company is not selling the machines here.
It’s such a shame as it’s the best Chromebook on the planet.
It incorporates Google’s light and fast Chrome OS into truly top-end 2-in-1 laptop hardware.
Chrome OS is an operating system built around the Chrome browser. It has limited uses. You can’t run desktop software programs, for example.
But it is improving greatly. On Pixelbook you can install Android apps including Microsoft’s Office suite, Netflix, Spotify, Tidal and anything else you fancy.
A lot of popular apps that you cannot get for Windows touch machines are on Android.
The Chrome OS is meant to be a high-speed, low maintenance browsing experience and it most certainly is on Pixelbook.
Everyday tasks such as streaming video, online word processing and document editing, are an absolute breeze.
The 2400×1600 resolution QHD LCD screen has 400 nits brightness and is fantastic for watching movies and video content.
However, audio quality from the speakers beneath the keyboard is not great.
And there are bezels on the display which seem huge compared to rival phones and tablets.
As is the case with most 2-in-one laptops, the 12.3in screen’s rotating hinge can fold 360-degrees on to its back.
The thin and light computer can stand like a tent with the screen facing out, or screen out with the keyboard resting on a table.
The well-spaced backlit keyboard and glass trackpad are super-responsive and accurate.
Battery life is excellent. I was getting between eight and ten hours from a single charge, depending on what I was using the Pixelbook for.
The computer comes with Google Assistant built-in — it has its own dedicated key.
And it supports a stylus called the Pixel Pen but this did not feel as fast and effective to use as the Surface Pro Pen or the Apple Pencil. You have to press it quite hard for it to work.
But it has a neat trick to show off to friends.
Press the Pen’s button, circle something on the screen and Google Assistant will search for information about whatever you highlighted.
Another handy feature is you can unlock Chrome OS if your linked Android smartphone is unlocked nearby.
Connectivity options are minimal but that’s common nowadays. There are two USB-C ports and a 3.5mm audio port that you can hook up to speakers or headphones.
There is no rear camera but the 720p front-facing camera can capture video at 60 frames per second.
There are many much less expensive Chromebooks on the market but they are not as well-designed or as powerful as this, the first Chromebook I wanted to own.
There are a number of Intel i5 or i7 chipset options available if you choose to buy one, and you can choose 8GB RAM or 16GB RAM.
But bear in mind you cannot do that in Ireland at this time, but you can buy through Google’s UK store.
So that are the Pixelbook key tech specs and how much does it cost?
Operating system: Chrome OS
Screen: 12.3in 2400×1600 (235 ppi)
Processor: Intel Core i5 or i7 (7th generation)
RAM: 8GB or 16GB
Storage: 128, 256 or 512GB
Camera: 720p webcam
Connectivity: Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.2, two USB-C ports, headphone 3.5mm port
Dimensions: 220.8mm x 290.4mm x 10.3mm
Google’s Pixelbook costs from £999 from https://store.google.com/gb