Google splurges on hardware with a Pixelbook laptop and new Google Home speakers
It's already been a busy day at Google with the launch of two new Pixel phones, but the tech giant had plenty of other hardware to show off at its event today, including a brand new laptop called the Pixelbook, and two new versions of its smart Google Home speaker.
The new Pixelbook is a premium Chromebook in the vein of the old Chromebook Pixel (spot the name tweak?) – it carries a 12.3-inch quad HD screen, is 10 mm (0.39 inches) thin when closed, and weighs under 1 kg (2.2 lb).
Google is calling it a 4-in-1 device: You can use it as a laptop, fold it over as a tablet, or stand it up with the keyboard flat or as a prop (in a so-called "tent mode"). To add to the tablet feel, there's an optional US$99 Pixelbook Pen for selecting items on screen and of course creating some digital artwork.
It comes with some clever extras too, like out-of-the-box support for the Google Play Store and Android apps, and the Google Assistant built in.
Various configurations are available with i5 and i7 processors under the hood, and you can get up to 16 GB of RAM and 512 GB of storage space with your device, which seems overkill for a Chromebook. Pre-orders are open now, shipping starts on October 31, and the cheapest configuration will set you back $999.
As for the new Google Home speakers, there's a Max model focused on sound and a Mini model focused on getting Google Assistant in more places than ever.
The Google Home Max uses integrated woofers and tweeters to give it 20 times more oomph than the standard Google Home, according to Google, and you can use a single device on its own or pair them up for a stereo effect. It's obviously aimed as a direct competitor to the HomePod from Apple, and comes with a Smart Sound system to adjust its output based on the acoustics of the room you're in.
It comes with touch controls, Bluetooth and Google Cast connectivity, and a 3.5-mm audio jack. Available in December, it retails for $399, in either chalk or charcoal colors.
The Google Home Mini, meanwhile, is exactly what it sounds like – a cut-down version of the first model. It's what the Echo Dot is to the Echo, keeping all the smarts but cutting down on the speaker, so for a really big sound you have to provide your own speaker or Chromecast for it to connect to (it does feature a small speaker of its own).
This model will set you back a mere $49 and comes in coral, chalk, and charcoal. Pre-orders are open now with in store sales starting on October 19.
Throughout today's hardware event, Google talked as much about the Google Assistant and its AI-powered software as it did the devices. There's no doubt it sees the real benefit to its products as the intelligent operations behind the scenes, which are improving all the time independent of the hardware refreshes that get pushed out.