Another thing I liked about the Go was its keyboard. The original Pixelbook was lauded for its comfortable and quiet keyboard. Still, as senior product manager Ben Janofsky told Engadget, the company wanted to make sure the new Chromebook had an even better keyboard. The team took the original Pixelbook's setup and spent two years iterating on it to make it better. I enjoyed typing on it -- the spacebar is noticeably quieter than my ThinkPad and the original Pixelbook. The keys themselves were cushy, with satisfyingly soft feedback. I wish there were just a bit more travel, as I've gotten used to the generously deep buttons on my ThinkPad.
Like the original Pixelbook, the Go's keys are backlit, although they're subtle enough that you won't notice the lights unless you're in a dark environment. Below the keyboard sits a roomy trackpad that in my brief testing was just as responsive as before, and no longer sits flush with the edge of the keyboard.
The Go features a 13.3-inch touchscreen that's just slightly larger than the Pixelbook's 12.3-inch panel. It comes in full HD and 4K resolutions at a 16:9 ratio that Janofsky said is better for split-screen multitasking than a taller layout. The bezels are a little thinner than before, although they're still noticeably thicker than, say, a Dell XPS 13 or an HP Spectre 13.
On our full HD demo unit, I watched a couple of Engadget review videos, as well as an 8K reel of the sights of Peru. Colors were vibrant, details were generally clear. My only complaint about its display is that I wish it were brighter -- it was a little hard to read in sunlight.
It's possible that if the Go's screen were brighter, Google wouldn't meet the 12-hour runtime it's promising. That's two hours more than the 10 hours the company said the original Pixelbook would last, although my colleague Nathan Ingraham said in his review that that machine only held up about six hours under his regular workload. At least Google saw fit to add fast charging to the Go, which should get you two hours of juice twenty minutes after plugging it in.
Like on the original Pixelbook, you charge the Go via one of the two USB-C ports. There aren't any other sockets here, barring the headphone jack, so you might want to invest in a hub.
With the right configuration, the Pixelbook Go is a powerful Chromebook clad in an unassuming but functional suit. Best of all, it starts at a much friendlier $649 compared to the original's $999. For that price, the Go comes with an eighth-generation Intel Core m3 processor, 8GB of RAM, a 64GB SSD and a full HD display. You can get a Core i5 processor, increased RAM and storage for more money, though if you want the 4K screen you have to shell out for the most expensive $1,399 model. That configuration comes with a Core i7 chip and a 256GB SSD. Similarly specced Chromebooks from Acer, HP and Lenovo cost about the same, give or take about $100.
Essentially, if the original Pixelbook was the Ferrari of Chromebooks, the Pixelbook Go is a Volvo -- basic, safe and sturdy. It's nice to see Google drop the Pixelbook's price so drastically, too, but it faces stiff competition from its own partners. In the past year and a half, we've seen premium chromebooks pop up across the industry from brands like Acer, Lenovo, Samsung and HP. Most of them cost between $500 and $600, although Lenovo's 15-inch model comes in at $750. This variety of higher-end Chromebooks gives consumers more options, so if you want a 3:2 screen or a glass-covered machine, you can find one. The proliferation of premium Chromebooks also indicates that the industry is taking Chrome OS more seriously as a desktop platform, which makes it a good time for Google to deliver a Pixelbook that isn't prohibitively priced. You can pre-order the $649 and $849 Pixelbook Go in black today, or join the waitlist for the Not Pink models.