Hands On With the PixelbookI've recently purchased a Pixelbook and I would like to share my experiences in the decision making process for many of the experiences I've went through this week. The one major topic I won't cover will be enabling Developer mode. This is because of work requirements and I am not interested in going into Developer mode on this device. Below is a breakdown of my experience using it after a week and also a list of items I use alongside my Pixelbook.
Below is a list of accessories I purchased or already own to use the Pixelbook as an everyday device. I don't use a desktop at work or at home so laptop mobility and docking is important.
The Pixelbook has 2 x USB C ports but is not clear if they support USB 3.1 but this blog says it does. I went ahead and started my search with the requirements below.
- Allow for USB C PD charging
- Small footprint to allow for later mounting on the back of the display
- SD Card support, to import images from my Sony A6500
- Ethernet Port that doesn't create an uneven surface on the dongle
- At least 2 USB 3.0 ports
- 6"-8" Cable in order to allow for mounting on the back of the display
Solution: Elando USB-C Hub, Aluminum USB Type-C Hub with 4K HDMI, USB-C Power Delivery, USB 3.0, USB 2.0, Audio Jack and SD/TF Card Reader
The Pixelbook has the ability to convert to a tablet and supports a wide range of motion. There are very few cases out there for the Pixelbook and even fewer that support the full range of motion. Here are the things I was looking for in a case.
- Support Laptop mode and Tablet mode in any angle
- Cover keyboard when in tablet mode
- Protect base and back of screen
- Edge Protection and easy access to ports
- Optional: Allow for stylus to be slotted but stay out of the way without it
- Fold over like a folio style case
- Not too bulky or add too much weight for traveling
The pixelbook has a built in U2F Token. It doesn't completely replace a Yubikey but this is good enough. If something more is needed there are Yubikey USB C devices available.
Solution: Built In U2F Token via Power Button
Below is a list of accessories I already had and use to dock the Pixelbook at home and work at my desk.
- USB 3.0 Dock: PLUGABLE UD-6950 USB 3.0 DUAL DISPLAYPORT 4K DOCKING STATION
- Logitech Keyboard: K780 MULTI-DEVICE WIRELESS KEYBOARD
- Logitech Mouse: Wireless Trackball M570
In order for me to reduce the cable clutter on my desk and not have to spend too much money, I use the Elano USB C hub to charge the Pixelbook and I have the Plugable Dock using one of the USB 3.0 ports on the Elano hub. This allows me to unplug the power and Plugable when I head off to work and keep the Elano hub plugged in to the Pixelbook.
Later on I plan to attach the Elano hub to the back of the display using 3M velcro strips. This would allow me to have the hub easily available while at work and at home. I could remove it quickly when I want to convert to tablet mode and it won't cause any damage to the device.
I can dock the Pixelbook and use it at home or at work without any issues.
Customizing Chrome OS
ChromeOS on the Pixelbook is a powerful system out of the box but there are several ways to increase it's usefulness to one's everyday needs. Below is a breakdown of what I've done to customize ChromeOS so that I can use it as much as possible and adopt it to a variety of workflows/tasks.
This one is a no brainer, enable the play store and simply install the Android Apps you know and love.
- PingTools (Paid Version)
- Adobe Photoshop Express
- Adobe Photoshop Lightroom CC
- Google Calendar
- Google Podcasts
There are several chrome extensions out there and many sources that review which are the best to install. There are only a few that I recommend.
By default settings import from your other Chrome Browser setups. For ChromeOS I like to configure the below settings.
- Smart Lock, allows for unlocking from your phone via BLE and Fingerprint reader on the phone.
- Font Size and Page Zoom setup for what's comfortable to me.
- Setup a CUPS printer for a network printer, not cloud print direct IP printing
- Change Download location to Google Drive folder called pixelbook-download, helps keep files off the actual device.
These are the flags that I've enabled and enjoying.
- Native Smb Client
- Parallel downloading
- Enable Picture-in-Picture
- Print Pdf as Image
- Enable ARC USB host integration
- Enable ARC VPN integration
- Enable Night Light
- Enable keyboard shortcut viewer
- Experimental Crostini
- Enable new Print Preview UI
I'm enjoying the Pixelbook and I have a few things I've experienced that really pushed the boundaries(limitations) of the device.
- USB Formatting and create a bootable USB device
- There are times when a USB device with multiple partitions needs to be formatted or partitions deleted.
- Creating a bootable USB device comes in handy sometimes.
- Local Linux Shell Environment
- Ctrl + Alt + t will open a crosh shell
- Very barebones and not very useful for CLI power users.
- By having something like the Linux subsystem for Windows on ChromeOS, this device would be a killer laptop for power users.
- You could even run powershell inside a Linux CLI now, think of the possibilities.
- Encrypted external HDDs
- There is no support for encrypting external HDDs.
- I have an external drive I use to backup my photos but it would be nice to sync my Google Drive to it and encrypt the drive.
- Android Apps that don't support Ethernet Connections
- Adobe Android Apps apparently do not support a network connection over ethernet only wifi.
- So when I'm docked I can't upload/download any photos.
- Android Apps and Access to USB Storage
- It would be nice to work off of files directly from USB storage .
- A little more flexibility with the shelf
- It would be nice to show the date on the shelf.