Google unveils Chromebook Pixel, expects you to pay $1,299

By on February 21, 2013, 4:00 PM

Google has just announced the latest addition to its lineup of web-centric Chromebook laptops. Unlike prior variants that drew their main value from their low price tag, the new Chromebook Pixel hopes to entice another set of users who live in the cloud and are willing to spend ‘a little more’ for better specs. That includes a 12.85 inch 2560×1700 touch screen, Core i5 CPU, bigger SSD and 1TB of storage on Google Drive for three years.

Starting at $1,299 for the basic Wi-Fi version, however, the Chromebook Pixel is definitely not for everyone.

As the name suggests the high resolution screen is the highlight of this device. With a pixel density of 239 pixels per inch it manages to outclass the 220 PPI of Apple’s MacBook Pro with Retina display, and the use of a 3:2 aspect ratio is supposed improve viewing web content with 18% more vertical space than a 16:9 layout.

It's thicker and boxier than the MacBook Pro but it shares some design elements and there's similar attention to detail. From the invisible speakers that fire upwards through the keyboard, to the vents hidden in the hinge, a full-sized LED-backlit keyboard, and a large glass touchpad tuned with a laser for a grippy finish. Hands-on impressions popping up across the web all agree that if feels like a solid piece of kit.

Under the hood you’ll find a dual-core Intel Core i5 processor alongside 4GB of DDR3 RAM and 32GB of flash storage -- nothing to rival a similarly priced Windows laptop but then again you don’t need much more for Chrome OS. Other features include Bluetooth 3.0, an SD slot, two USB 2.0, one Mini DiasplayPort, and a trio of integrated mics that cancel out background noise when videoconferencing on the 720p webcam.

An LTE-equipped model with 64GB of storage is scheduled to arrive in early April for $1,449.

Google’s app suite including services like Gmail, Google Docs, YouTube, Google Maps, and Search are all a few clicks away, with another couple of thousand more available on the Google Web Store. The company also demoed a new Google+ app that should arrive in a few weeks, as well as new Quick Office integration so you can open and edit Word and Excel documents natively from Google Docs.

The Chromebook Pixel will be available on the Google Store and in select Best Buy locations nationwide.

We can’t fault Google for trying something different and bold with Chrome OS, but at that price it’ll be a hard sell when you can get more for less. Even with the high resolution display as a key selling point it’s hard to justify the investment when a higher-spec MacBook Pro with Retina display running a full fledged desktop OS costs $50 more. Sadly, there are still no high-resolution alternatives available from the Windows camp.

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