Rob Waugh on the Google Pixelbook

For my wife, the words ‘software update’ are something to be ignored entirely, or a cue to yell for the 24-hour, in-house IT department (me) and ask with disgust: ‘Do I need to actually look at this?’

For those who point-blank refuse to deal with the endless, dreary housekeeping that comes with Windows PCs (the slowing down, the viruses, defluffing the mouse), Google’s cheap, simplified Chromebooks have become a good option.

The new Pixelbook, a Chromebook with very fancy hardware, aimed at people who actually want to work

If you’re buying a laptop for anyone who just uses the internet, they’re great value: lightweight, simple laptops that offer a Chrome browser and little else, and don’t trouble users with the endless, grinding admin of keeping a Windows machine running (something I half hate and half secretly love).

With many at £200, they’re a great choice for less techie types (and mean their loved ones are less likely to get those whiny phone calls saying: ‘It’s gone wrong again’). But Google believes Chromebooks can actually take on the giants of the laptop world – hence its new Pixelbook, a Chromebook with very fancy hardware, aimed at people who actually want to work.

It’s gorgeous. The machine feels positively thrilling, with an aluminium casing, slimline body and a frankly lickable swivelling screen. No prizes for guessing which high-tech company with a fruit-shaped logo this laptop is gunning for.

Previous Chromebooks (even the posh ones) lacked apps, and ways to (for instance) cut out images or do word processing. This offers the full Android app store and has a stylus that lets you draw and cut out on screen. In use, it’s fast, simple and feels like a decent halfway house between a phone and a laptop.

I was able to do a whole day’s work on it without yelling once, which is certainly progress from previous Chromebooks, where I’d usually be so furious that my wife would be calling upstairs: ‘Are you all right?’

At present this is a one-of-a-kind machine (and pretty pricey for what’s under the bonnet), but Google has staked out its territory here quite nicely.

If I were younger, and cared slightly more about what people thought of my laptop, I could even imagine myself buying one – once I get over the nagging feeling that I have a duty to be tinkering with some obscure menu in an ancient, grumpy Windows machine.

Mind you, I’m still no wiser as to why the stylus costs £99 on its own.