The Made by Google 2019 event is less than a month away, and yet it feels like we already know everything there is to know about the Pixel 4. That being the case, there’s no better time to take stock of what we know about the Google Pixelbook Go, being developed under the codename “Atlas.”
Last year, we closely tracked three in-development Chrome OS devices that all had the makings of being the Made by Google Chromebook for 2018 — Meowth, Nocturne, and Atlas. Of these, we’re now confident that Meowth was scrapped due to supply chain issues with Intel and redeveloped under the codename Nocturne, eventually becoming the Pixel Slate we know today.
Despite the obvious signs at the time that Atlas was also a Made by Google Chromebook and a solid successor to the Pixelbook, it didn’t see release in 2018. However, as Google never stopped developing Atlas, we now know with even more confidence that it is indeed the device we now know as the Pixelbook Go, set to release later this year.
The Pixel doesn’t fall far from the tree
The Pixelbook Go, since it entered development last March as “Atlas,” has been described by Chromium developers as being “closely related to” the Pixelbook. In fact, when Atlas was initially tested, it did so “posing as” the Pixelbook (internally known as Eve). The Pixelbook Go hardware itself even appears to be produced by Quanta, the same manufacturer as the Pixelbook, Pixel C, and Pixel Slate.
Given the close relationship between the two, you’ll find that many things about Pixelbook Go’s hardware are near identical to the first-gen Pixelbook. For example, the two Chromebooks have the same ports: two USB-C ports (one on each side, each with an LED), a headphone jack, and no microSD slot.
Neither a tablet nor a 2-in-1
Back in June, Google cancelled two of their in-development tablets, choosing instead to focus their efforts on laptop projects. What isn’t clear about this is whether Google will continue to develop convertible devices like the original Pixelbook. Our first glimpse of the Pixelbook Go actually came in the form of a video, which shows a very different hinge from what the original Pixelbook is equipped with.
It’s hard to say just from this preview, but it appears plausible that the Pixelbook Go may not have a 360° hinge like the original did, instead opting for a traditional clamshell design. Honestly, this makes good business sense, as a new laptop/tablet convertible would compete too directly with the still-new Pixel Slate.
In the video, you can see that where the original Pixelbook has a Control Panel “hamburger” button, the Google Pixelbook Go has a power button. Presumably, this will replace the side-mounted power button found on most Chromebooks including the first-generation Pixelbook.
On the original Pixelbook and other convertible Chromebooks, this side-mounted button acts as a handy lock/unlock button for use in tablet mode. Placing the Pixelbook Go’s power button on the keyboard instead is a very strong indicator that it’s not a 2-in-1 convertible.
Google Pixelbook Go Specs
We were treated a few months to benchmarks for “Atlas” which revealed specs that very closely line up to the evidence we’ve uncovered thus far for the Google Pixelbook Go.
Specifically, we know it will be available with the exact same processors available for the Pixel Slate. This is because both devices are in the “Poppy” line of Chromebooks, sharing their lineage with other devices like the Samsung Chromebook Plus V2 and the HP Chromebook X2.
In the Chromium source code, we were able to confirm that there will be at least four different configurations for the Pixelbook Go, including an i5 model with a massive 16GB of RAM. Previously, this was a privilege offered only on the highest-end model of Made by Google Chrome OS devices, and it was always priced to match.
- Intel Core m3-8100Y – 8GB of RAM
- Intel Core i5-8200Y – 8GB of RAM
- Intel Core i5-8200Y – 16GB of RAM
- Intel Core i7-8500Y – 16GB of RAM
Additionally, the Pixelbook Go will have two display options, both with a 16:9 aspect ratio. We’ve long known “Atlas” would feature a 4K (3840 x 2160) display, but a source told us there would also be a more affordable Full HD (1920×1080) resolution display. We’re not yet sure how the processor and RAM configurations will affect the availability of 4K.
For comparison, previous Made by Google Chromebooks were known for their 3:2 ratio — 3000 x 2000 on Pixel Slate and 2400 x 1600 on the original Pixelbook. This will make it only the second Chromebook to offer a 4K option, following the Lenovo Yoga Chromebook C630.
The Google Pixelbook Go is currently slated to offer a front-facing Sony IMX208 camera, which supports 1080p video at 60fps, compared to the original Pixelbook’s 720p camera. This is admittedly modest, by comparison to the Pixel Slate’s front and rear cameras, but more than enough for use with Google Duo.
At one point in development, the Pixelbook Go was supposed to be available with a high-end NVMe SSD storage option, like the original Pixelbook’s i7 model had, but Google has since changed their plans and removed all NVMe code.
Google Pixel stylings
While last year’s Pixel Slate came in a gorgeous shade of Midnight Blue, Google seems to be taking a more traditional Pixel path with the Pixelbook Go. So far, we’ve seen a small handful of visual leaks, from which we’ve seen two distinct colorways for the Chromebook.
The original video leak showed what looked like a simple black chassis with somewhat pink keys, but we originally discounted this design due to its odd color combo and prominent display of the word “ProductName.” In a more recent leak, seen above, we saw what we thought was a poorly lit photo of a silver color scheme more in-line with the original Pixelbook.
However, we had a source clarify that there will be at least two distinct color schemes for the Pixelbook Go, one something like the Pixel 3’s “Not Pink,” and the other a more traditional “Just Black.” With this context, looking at the original video leaks, we may be seeing a mismatched model, having a “Just Black” chassis with “Not Pink” keys.
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