Tech Guide

Spending $999 on a Chromebook makes no sense unless you're a Google fan with tons of money

Key Points
  • Don't spend $999 for the Pixelbook.
  • Chromebooks are great, but they're nowhere near a PC or Mac.
  • Spend somewhere closer to $300 if you're interested in the category.
Google Pixelbook

Only the most hardcore Google fans with plenty of disposable income should consider dropping $999 for Google's new Pixelbook ChromeOS laptop.

I'm sure it's a nice machine. The Verge called it "stunning," "well-built," and "beautiful." Google told the Verge that it's aimed at students who really love the inexpensive Chromebooks they use at school today and want something nicer as they move into their professional lives.

But really, a $999 Chromebook makes sense only for Google's developer base and wealthy enthusiasts.

First, using a Chromebook is basically like using a Chrome browser with access to Android apps. While native software applications of the type found on Windows and Mac aren't as necessary as they once were, particularly as web versions of apps become more popular and function, you definitely won't find them here.

If you're spending that kind of money, you can buy a full-fledged Windows or macOS laptop that allows you to install full versions of applications, not just Android apps that were intended for a smartphone. Sure, there are some great apps out there that work just fine on a laptop — Netflix, for example — but others just weren't designed for this use case yet. Snapchat is one example; Google said the company is building a special version for Chromebooks.

This isn't a knock against the entire category. I love Chromebooks, including a small Acer Chromebook Flip I picked up a couple of years ago for $299 as a budget travel laptop. They're fine as cost-efficient laptops meant to be deployed in bulk to education and enterprise segments.

$999, though? No way.