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Google eschews the wedge form factor for a more brick-like design

Most Chromebooks thus far have been rather underpowered hardware-wise, to say the least.  And sales have been modest at best.

But Google Inc. (GOOG) appears eager to push the boundaries of its PC operating system experiment, debuting its first in-house designed Chromebook.  Dubbed the "Pixel", the laptop/Chromebook/ultrathin packs an Intel Corp. (INTC) Core i5 processor and Intel HD 4000 graphics.  4GB of DDR3 memory is also onboard.

The star of the show is a gorgeous 2.85-inch, 2560 x 1700 touchscreen display.  Similar to the smaller Retina MacBook Pro (13.3-inch 2,560 x 1,600) from Apple, Inc. (AAPL), the laptop features a backlit keyboard and hidden speakers.

But Google's Pixel diverges with the Retina MacBook Pro in other ways.  There's a third microphone included, designed to cancel unwanted noise from the keyboard when making video calls.  And Google has gone to great lengths to optimized the touchpad's "feel" and the latching mechanism.
 Pixel Chromebook
While the laptops are similar in maximum thickness (the Google laptop is a hair thicker), they look dramatically different.

A Wi-Fi model of the Pixel ships next week.  It packs 32 GB of NAND flash, along with a 1 TB Google Drive subscription (3-year) and an SD slot for expansion.  The price is $1,299 USD.  In April Google will drop an LTE version, which packs 64 GB of NAND and the same SD/Google Drive perks.  That version will fetch $1,449 USD.

Google's app ecosystem is pretty week, but perhaps its shiny new hardware will attract new developer interest.  Google showed off a slick touch-friendly Google+ app with the launch materials.

Sources: Google [1], [2; via Engadget]

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By TakinYourPoints on 2/21/2013 8:02:04 PM , Rating: 3
The main strike against the MBA when it launched was that SSDs weren't affordable yet, otherwise the concept of dropping the optical drive and physical ports was sound.

It is sound, the ultrabook concept is the result of the MBA's huge success. Optical drives are a thing of the past, wifi and cellular tethering are ubiquitous, and two USB 3.0 ports when on the road are enough for most people. Putting the money into a good display, long battery life, good keyboard, good trackpad, high performance, all in a slim enclosure are all practical attributes for a portable laptop.

The dropping of on-board storage and a real OS at this price point is much much bigger question mark. What are the benefits of offloading so much to the cloud? It only makes sense at the $250 price point, otherwise it doesn't cost much more to get so much more.

Frankly the idea that any laptop priced over $1k is for general consumer use is a bit skewed. The Macbook's AND the Chromebook Pixel are both niche brands.

I wouldn't say so, Apple had about a third of laptop sales in the US last year and 90% of OEM PC sales over $1000. Again, other companies wouldn't be doing ultrabooks if the MBA wasn't such a big hit. ChromeOS is a different story, it sells in the hundreds of thousands, not tens of millions.

I say this as someone who loves Chrome, it is one of my favorite pieces of software out there and its a frigging web browser. :)

Perhaps the Pixel will make sense if it ends up at a quarter of its price in a couple years, otherwise there is just too much being given up IMHO. I do think that the traditional inexpensive ChromeOS notebooks are a viable "third" computer option for a household. They're so cheap that they're almost disposable, so why not?

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