It's been a rough couple of weeks for Google's Pixel Slate following our coverage of a severe hardware issue affecting the Core i5 edition. For many Pixel Slate owners, that hardware was a significant step back from Google's critically acclaimed Pixelbook, which has been praised for its stellar design and speedy performance. In what seems like a series of unfortunate events, the original Pixelbook now finds itself in a nasty predicament that, similar to the Pixel Slate situation, can't easily be fixed with a software update.

Multiple Pixelbooks are entering an unrecoverable state after updating to Chrome OS 87.0.4280.24 Beta. A few people managed to capture their Pixelbooks' screens right after updating their Pixelbooks to this problematic build, and it's not pretty:

Pixelbook screen after applying the 87.0.4280.24 update. Source: James Martin

As we can see, the Pixelbook goes haywire, outputting garbled graphics on the screen. A few people report that this is the last thing the Pixelbook displays before their Chromebook kicks the bucket. After a hard reset or powering off the device, the system is unable to boot. Even worse, it can't enter recovery mode, preventing users from reverting the firmware back to the old version. The Pixelbook will strangely respond to a few gestures, such as the keyboard flashing when rotating it. One user reports that their device gets noticeably hotter and depletes the battery rapidly if it is "powered on" in this state.

The bricked Pixelbook situation has been documented by two owners who reached out to us regarding this issue. Along with some others on Reddit and the Google Product forums, affected users cannot recover the Pixelbook while it is in this state. Some users have contacted Google Support about this issue but are out of luck because their Pixelbooks are well past their expiration dates. Several customers have expressed their frustrations on Reddit and the Google product forums, but with no resolution in sight.

Thanks to a Redditor who was able to capture the hardware debugging log of his Pixelbook using a SuzyQable cable, we can confirm there is a firmware issue related to the Trusted Platform Module with 87.0.4280.24 Beta. A Chromium developer confirms that Google plans to roll out Chrome OS 87 to Pixelbooks with an updated Linux 5.4 kernel, which likely caused this problem briefly before being pulled in a future update. More than a handful of users have reported broken systems after updating to 87.0.4280.24, a position in which no one should find themselves even in the Beta channel.

Google has since rolled out a new Beta channel update without reported problems, but it is unclear whether Google will be extending replacements to users impacted by 87.0.4280.24. We reached out to Google to see just what was going on, and a representative tells us that Google has yet to reproduce or pinpoint the cause of this misbehavior. However, Google assures us that the product team is actively working on finding the root cause of these users' issues. In the meantime, we recommend those affected to follow these help center steps. We'll update this article when we hear more.

  • Thanks:
  • James Martin,
  • Doug Elkin