Thanks to its clean design and powerful internals, Google’s Pixelbook remains one of the best Chromebooks on the market today and a capable laptop replacement. However, it’s been almost a year since the Pixelbook went on sale, and rumor is ripe that Google will announce a Pixelbook successor later this year with updated internals.
Even though we liked the first-generation Pixelbook, there are a number of upgrades that would help the Pixelbook 2 stay competitive against Apple’s recently refreshed MacBook Pro, Microsoft’s newly announced Surface Go tablet, and a slate of Windows 10 convertibles, detachables, and laptops. Here are five features we’d love to see Google adopt on the Pixelbook 2:
Dell was one of the first PC companies to experiment with barely-there bezels on its XPS laptop, and the feature has proven to be so popular that other notebook manufacturers followed suit. Even if Google recycled the current current aluminum-clad design with glass accent on the current Pixelbook for its second-generation laptop, thinner bezels would not only help the laptop appear more modern against competitors, but it’s a feature that also brings business appeal. A design with slimmer bezels would help the Pixelbook 2 occupy a smaller footprint on a desk or a laptop bag.
The coveted feature is now all but officially confirmed. VentureBeat reporter Evan Blass recently tweetedthat smaller bezels is part of this year’s upgrade, and givenhis previous record with providing reliable leaks, the feature appears highly likely.Smaller bezels coupled with a modern design, a high resolution touchscreen display, and improved pen support would make the screen on the Pixelbook 2 a big winner.
When it launched in late-2017, the original Pixelbook shared the same 7th-generation Intel mobile processors as Apple’s MacBook Pro, making it a capable machine, especially for a Chromebook. However, with most laptop manufacturers (including Apple) recently making the switch to newer 8th-generation processors, we can likely expect that Google will make similar upgrades when it refreshes the premium Pixelbook. If this happens, the Pixelbook 2 could be the most powerful Chromebook ever made, topping out with a six-core Core i7 8th-generation Intel processor.
Depending on the launch timing of the Pixelbook 2, Google’s switch to an 8th-generation processor may make for an awkward refresh this year. Intel is rumored to debut its 9th-generation CPU later this year as well, though it may take some time before laptops with the newest chipset to appear on store shelves.
Chromebook partners have already begun experimenting with new form factors for Chrome OS. Though the Pixelbook brought the convertible form factor to the premium segment for Chrome OS, Acer has since debuted a Chromebook Tab 10 tablet and HP launched itsChromebook x2 with a detachable form factor, similar to Microsoft’s Surface Go.
Interestingly, source code discovered earlier this year by XDA-Developers suggestthat Google is working on a new Chromebook with a 4K screen and a detachable form factor.While we doubt that applies to the new Pixelbook, Google needs to improve the tablet experience either way.On the software side, Google has been making subtle tweaks to make Chrome OS better for tablets,but there’s still a long way to go.
Alongside the bolder Material Design 2.0 refresh to modernize the aesthetics of the operating system, Chrome OS is also said to be borrowing heavily from its Android cousin, bringing larger buttons with rounded corners to better support touch. It’d be great to see Google launch some of these new interface tweaks with its new flagship device.
Google brought stylus support to the first-generation Pixelbook, but the stylus seems more like an afterthought. Having a stylus silo or even magnetic attachment to stow the digital pen when not in use would show that Google is serious about the stylus. Samsung provides a stylus silo on its premium Chromebook models, while Lenovo offers a similar design for some of its premium pen-enabled ThinkPad convertibles.
Currently, Google sells the Pixelbook Pen as an optional $99 add-on, and a $29 third-party leather sleeve with a magnetic clip provides similar functionality to Microsoft’s magnetic Surface Pen. If a stylus silo is built into the Pixelbook 2, Google may also bundle the stylus, making the pen feel more integrated into the Chromebook experience while saving users some money.
Having a built-in LTE modem on the Pixelbook 2 is much more than just about convenience. With better Android support on Chrome OS devices, and the operating system’s potential to supplant and replace Android tablets, having always-on connectivity would be a huge advantage. This is the same vision that rival Microsoft has for its Always Connected PC platform.
The feature wouldn’t be too hard for Google to do, given that it already runs its own virtual mobile network through Project Fi, which relies on T-Mobile’s and Sprint’s network infrastructure for the backbone. Google’s experiment to deliver voice and mobile data service on its Android smartphone hardware has been met with positive reviews. Google could potentially apply a similar business model to take on data-only devices, like Chromebooks and Chrome OS-powered tablet.
Even though LTE on laptops is uncommon in the US outside of business-class notebooks, it’s still a coveted feature that’s starting to grow in popularity. Microsoft’s Surface Pro, a Windows-powered tablet that’s positioned for premium consumers and business users, comes with an LTE option, and recently Microsoft partnered with Sprintto deliver free data access to the Always Connected PC platform. If it wants to compete with the Surface Pro or iPad Pro, it’s a must.