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SkySafari on Pixelbook?

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#1 Steve Cox

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Posted 08 September 2019 - 09:59 PM

Does anyone here have any hands on experience with the Google Pixelbook?  If so, how well does it run SkySafari; and also does it connect to the current bluetooth and wifi interfaces for mounts?  My search only brought up one reference to the Pixelbook from Jim (jrbarnett) and this was way back in 2017.

 

Is there even enough to this machine to justify its price over a top of the line Samsung tablet with keyboard?  I currently have a Galaxy Tab S3 which after two years is still way more power than I need on a tablet, and still competes with the iPad Pro.  But I'm considering replacing both my tablet and an old laptop (streamlining how many systems/devices I have) with either the Pixelbook or Galaxy Tab S6.  There is a remote possibility I could replace both of these and my desktop with an HP Spectre 2-in-1 (taking me down to one computer and my phone) but that's very remote as it would cost twice what I want to spend to get something even close to equivalent to my desktop in the HP Spectre.



#2 Steve Cox

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Posted 11 September 2019 - 03:33 PM

Well, no takers here, so I'll answer my own question.  Granted it is an awful expensive Chromebook, but I took the chance anyway, replacing my 10yo HP laptop and my Samsung tablet with this device for casual use around the house. 

 

Anyway, for a general use summary - some of how you use the product is quirky when compared to Android, and in some areas Google has a ways to go in polishing this OS.  Also, there are a few Android apps I couldn't get to run on it, but SkySafari is not one of them, it seems to run just fine.  That said, I have not tried connecting to my Bluetooth adapter and ASGT, been using manual mode on everything so far.

As for feel, it's basically an Android w/ 12" screen and keyboard - an Android laptop.  All my Android astro apps (SkySafari 6 Pro, LunarMap HD, Phases of the Moon, Astrospheric, and Images of the Sun from SOHO all work and work well.  The one thing I can't test at the moment is how well the tablet and SkySafari work with a stylus, since I didn't get one (Google wants $100 for their stylus...).  I did use a stylus to run SkySafari on my Samsung tablet I replaced and it worked quite well the times I did that.  If there's any downside, other than cost, is the keyboard backlight color can't be changed, so you're stuck with either white or turned off.  I had hopes it was one where you could set the color - make it red and easier to read and find keys in the dark.

 

Otherwise, for those who want a quality Chromebook, the Pixelbook is a good choice; I've looked at the inexpensive Chromebooks and didn't like them, being underpowered, clunky or just plain cheap build on some.  I'm still trying to figure out exactly how this 2-in-1 is going to fit in at home, but expect it'll be fine, and much better than what I had before.



#3 Jon Isaacs

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Posted 12 September 2019 - 10:15 PM

Steve:

 

Good stuff.  I have running SkySafari on a Asus 302C which is a $500 Chromebook with a 12.5 inch with a flip (180 degree rotation) touch screen. It can be used with or without the keyboard in a couple of tablet modes besides the standard laptop orientation. 

 

 It does the job but under the night sky, I prefer a tablet, I am visual only star hopping 100% and a 7 inch tablet fits in my coat pocket so I have it with me whether I am on a ladder or seated behind a refractor.

 

Jon



#4 Steve Cox

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Posted 12 September 2019 - 10:56 PM

Agree on a tablet at the scope Jon, and one reason I like the Chromebooks - it will convert to a 12" tablet.  And the other big plus is when taking notes, the speech to text function does work in SkySafari which a laptop running competitive products don't do.  One can always review and edit their notes to clean up spelling and expressed thoughts later.



#5 Jon Isaacs

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Posted 13 September 2019 - 04:22 AM

Steve:

 

I do find the speech to text very useful.  I log my observations in Sky Safari and I use the speech to text rather than trying to type on the virtual keyboard. It's surprisingly effective even without any internet connection.  

 

Jon


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#6 Steve Cox

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Posted 15 September 2019 - 01:31 PM

Update on this trial; the Pixelbook has been exchanged due to too many quirks and errors caused by the functionality of the Chromebook vs Android; errors such as closing an app like SkySafari when all you're trying to do is click the back button to get out of the Settings Menu.  And it was quite slow, which surprised me considering it was supposed to be a top of the line Chromebook, it's even slower than the 10yo HP laptop and my old Galaxy tablet I traded in at Best Buy for the book.  So I returned it and walked out with the Galaxy Tab S6 and $400 credit to my card - plus a $50 store gift card (part of the Tab S6 purchase right now).

 

I really wanted to like the Pixelbook but it came up way short in the end.  There were too many quirky things about it that Google made different than Android, like:

1. Not being able to easily save files to local storage.

2. Google Play apps, especially Music, would not recognize my music and photo libraries I'd copied over - they only wanted to work if I subscribed to their service and then still wouldn't open local copied files - pathetic.

3. The aforementioned issues with trying to run Android apps in tablet mode and inadvertently closing an app due to not having the usual Back and Home buttons on the bottom of the screen.

4. Some of my Android apps would not work at all, and others that even stated they were incompatible; Android on Chromebook is much like running apps in WINE, pretty much hit and miss even though Google owns and builds both OS's.

 

edit - one other item

 

5. Terrible battery life. I never got to try it out at the scope due to clouds here this week, but it wouldn't have made it through a night of observing running SkySafari with the screen always on.


Edited by Steve Cox, 15 September 2019 - 01:42 PM.


#7 Jon Isaacs

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Posted 16 September 2019 - 08:16 AM

Steve:

 

Your experiences with the Pixelbook are quite different than mine.  I find the Asus to be plenty fast and while it doesn't run all my apps, it runs the vast majority of them.  

 

Some of the things you do, music lists for example, I don't do.  I basically use it as a laptop and it does a good job for me. I never use it under the night sky with Sky Safari, it's just too big, I need something I can use at the eyepiece, one hand on the scope, one hand holding the tablet or phone. A 7 inch tablet is about perfect and fits easily in my coat pockets.  An 8 inch tablet can work but is a little big.

 

Jon




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