The Pixelbook is Google’s flagship Chromebook for late 2017, offering a stunning design and high-end hardware.

Google has been tinkering with Chrome as an operating system since 2010, and in 2013 released the first Chromebook Pixel. The Chromebook Pixel was everything that was loved about the simple operating, but with a fantastic, high-resolution display and premium aluminum body. The Chromebook Pixel was refreshed in 2015 with new USB-C ports and updated internals.

In early 2017, Google announced their line of laptops would not be refreshed, but that turned out to not be true. In October 2017, Google announced the Pixelbook: a new kind of Chromebook for a new age of Chrome.

Here’s everything you need to know about the Pixelbook.

The basics

At its core, the Pixelbook is a convertible laptop: the keyboard flips all the way around so the device can be a tablet, and there’s an optional stylus available for an additional $99. Convertible laptops aren’t new, even in the Chrome world, but this is Google’s first laptop of this form factor.

The Chromebook Pixel line was always (partially) meant to give developers a great device to use for building applications, and Google’s attempting to do the same with the Pixelbook, particularly now that the Play Store is part of Chrome OS.

More: Google Pixelbook review

Android apps run really well

The list of Chromebooks with Android apps has steadily grown over the last year, but there was always a beta tag attached to the experience. Even when used in the stable channel of Chrome OS, Android apps still had issues crashing and not behaving correctly.

On more recent builds of Chrome OS, that has changed: launching an Android app on Chrome OS is just as natural as launching a Windows Store app on Windows 10: it looks and acts like a native application because it is a native application.

More: These are the Chromebooks that can Android apps from Google Play

The hardware is gorgeous

Samsung and Asus have both put out fantastic Chromebooks this year, but the Pixelbook is on a whole ‘nother level. Rather than using the tried and true generic slab of silver aluminum, Google took a lot of inspiration from their own Pixel phones: there’s a big glass window on the back of the lid to allow Wi-Fi and Bluetooth to pass through without obstruction, the trackpad is surrounded by grippy, white silicone that will hopefully hold up to the test of time, and the entire design doesn’t look like any other laptop.

More: The Samsung Chromebook Plus might be the best place to try new Android features

The internals are plenty powerful, with a price to match

The internal hardware is a bit overkill for Chrome OS as it is at the end of 2017, but with time developers may build great applications to take advantage of that extra horsepower. The base configuration includes a fanless seventh generation Intel Core i5 processor, 8 gigabytes of RAM and 128 GB of storage. If that somehow isn’t enough, the middle configuration uses the same processor and RAM but with 256GB of storage. Finally, there will be a monstrous configuration with a fanless seventh generation Intel Core i7 processor, 16GB of RAM and a whopping 512GB of NVME storage.

Chrome OS really shines on low-cost devices, but the Pixelbook is not a low-cost device. The stunning design and powerful internals come with a commensurate price, starting at $999 for the i5/8GB RAM/128GB storage model. That increases to $1,199 for the 256GB model, and to an eye-watering $1649 for the i7/16GB RAM/512GB storage model. That’s a lot for a Chromebook, and the Pixelbook won’t be drastically faster than cheaper models.

More: Pixelbook with Core i7 and 16GB RAM now on sale at Google Store

The pen is not included

The Pixelbook pen includes a button for activating Google Assistant, as well 2,000 levels of pressure sensitivity and a 10 millisecond response time to make it feel like using an ink pen on paper. Note taking apps such as Google Keep and Evernote already work with the Pixelbook pen, with more surely to follow.

Unfortunately, the pen is sold separately and costs $99. Even more unfortunately, there aren’t any magnets to keep the pen attached to the Pixelbook when it is not in use.

Google Pixelbook hands-on: Who wants this?

The keyboard has a new layout

Chromebooks have been using the same keyboard design and layout since the very beginning, but the Pixelbook changes that up. First, the search button on the left (where Caps Lock resides on Windows laptops) now uses a dot in place of the previous magnifying glass icon, while there is now a Google Assistant button between the left Ctrl and Alt keys.

Along the top, there is now a dedicated screenshot button and finally, a settings button in the upper right of the keyboard. We expect this keyboard layout to become available on new Chromebooks soon.

This is the first Chromebook with Google Assistant

Speaking of Assistant, the Pixelbook is the first laptop to have Google’s AI feature built in. Assistant can understand voice or typed queries just like it does on any other device, and if you type your request Google will give you an answer without blasting it through the speakers.

With the Pixelbook pen, you’ll be able to highlight a picture or some text on screen and have Google provide a result from that. We expect Assistant to roll out to other Chromebooks in the future.

More: How to set up and customize Google Assistant

There are plenty of great sleeves

If you’re buying a Pixelbook, you’re already spending a lot of money. Make sure to spend a little more and get a nice sleeve or case to protect it while you’re on the go. There are plenty of great options as low as $20, so it’d be foolish not go get a sleeve. If you don’t like any of the official Pixelbook sleeves, check out ones made for Microsoft’s Surface Pro since that device has similar dimensions.

More: Best Sleeves for Google Pixelbook

Tablet mode is going to be great… in the future

For the longest time, using Android apps on a Chromebook felt a bit clunky. They worked, but it wasn’t as nice of an experience as using those same apps on an Android tablet. That’s going to change in the future: users will soon be able to run multiple Android apps at once on their Chromebook screen. This may seem trivial, but it’ll go a long way to making users more productive when using a Chromebook.

On another note, users will soon be able to split their web browser in tablet mode, rather than being forced to use it full screen. This is only for the web browser, not Android applications (yet). As time goes on, we expect more improvements for tablet mode on Chrome OS.

More: Pixelbook will soon do split-screen multitasking in tablet mode

It probably isn’t for you, and that’s okay

As pretty and powerful as the Pixelbook is, there’s not a whole lot it can do at release that other, less expensive Chromebooks can’t do just as well. The biggest software feature of the Pixelbook is Google Assistant, but Google will want to get that on as many Chromebooks as possible to keep making their knowledge graph that powers Assistant better and better. The Pixelbook is definitely a halo device, but if it tickles your fancy there’s nothing wrong with buying one.

More: Why I pre-ordered the Pixelbook

Any questions?

If you have any other questions you need answered, let us know down below our check out our Pixelbook forums!

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More Alexa for your life.

Although Amazon Alexa is most prominent on smart speakers, we’ve seen the AI expand to the likes of smartphones, thermostats, and more over the past couple years. However, one frontier that Alexa’s never been very prominent in is that of wearables. A handful of smartwatches have launched with Alexa built-in, but for the most part, these have been few and far between. Starting in 2018, Amazon wants to change that.

On the official Alexa blog, Amazon announced its new Alexa Mobile Accessory Kit. The main goal of the Kit is to make it considerably easier for developers to integrate Alexa into their wearable devices, and the way this is done is actually pretty ingenious.

Rather than making developers load Alexa directly onto their gadgets, the Kit allows wearable tech to seamlessly connect to the Alexa Voice Service on the Amazon Alexa app on Android and iOS phones. Essentially, voice commands you issue on your wearable are sent to your phone, the response from Alexa is obtained, and this is then relayed through your watch, headphones, etc. This does require your phone to be connected to your wearables in order for Alexa to work, but it makes adding the AI to these devices much easier.

The Alexa Mobile Accessory Kit won’t be launching until “later this year”, but Amazon’s already working with the likes of Bose, Beyerdynamic, Jabra, and iHome to release future products with this tech. In other words, it won’t be too much longer before we start seeing Alexa-powered headphones, watches, and fitness trackers flood the market.

Amazon Alexa will start helping out in the kitchen with microwave controls

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Disagreeing with the guy’s one thing, but death threats are never okay.

No matter who you are, there’s a good chance you’re at least somewhat familiar with FCC Chairman Ajit Pai. Pai proposed to repeal Obama-era net neutrality laws that have been in place since 2015, and on December 15, 2017, this proposal was officially passed in a 3-2 vote.

Pai’s stance on net neutrality has made him an incredibly disliked public figure, and it’s gotten to the point where his safety has been put at risk. A bomb threat was called in during the December 15 meeting right before the net neutrality repeal, and now it’s been confirmed that Pai won’t be attending CES 2018 due to death threats.

Ajit Pai was scheduled to have a fireside chat during this year’s Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, and while it was announced on the evening of January 3 that this had been scrapped, it wasn’t confirmed until January 4 that the reason for this was, in fact, death threats.

The FCC hasn’t officially commented on this matter, simply saying “We do not comment on security measures or concerns.”

As it’s mentioned at the beginning of this article, it’s one thing to disagree with someone’s stance on an issue, but making threats to their well-being is both counterproductive and illegal. Talking with people in office about things that affect us all is how we make progress, but if Pai can’t show his face at an open setting because of threats like this, nothing gets done.

Feel free to vent and complain all you want about Pai’s net neutrality stance, but make sure you think twice before threatening the man’s life.

GOP representative intros bill to restore some net neutrality principles

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Who needs Oreo when you have Nougat, right?

Back in 2016, Motorola released three entries in its G-series with the Moto G4, G4 Play, and G4 Plus. The G4 and G4 Plus were both updated to Nougat later in the year, but the same could never be said for the G4 Play. Motorola was running Nougat soak tests for the G4 Play at one point in 2017, but an official over-the-air update was never released.

Now, in January of 2018, this is finally changing. One Redditor shared a screenshot of their G4 Play, and sure enough, it’s running Android 7.1.1 Nougat (a version of Android that’s now 13 months old) with the November 2017 security patch.

We aren’t sure why it took Motorola so long to get Nougat pushed to the G4 Play, but we’re certainly glad that it’s finally here. Unfortunately, don’t expect to be using Oreo at any point in the future. This is the last planned update that Motorola has for the G4 Play, but considering that this is a phone nearing two years of age that had a retail price of $99, that’s not all that surprising.

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