Chromebook Pixel Offers Google-Centric World Starting at $1,299

Google's Chromebook Pixel has the best display on any laptop with optional 4G LTE, 1TB of cloud storage and a very un-Chromebook-like starting price.

Google introduced the Chromebook Pixel laptop Feb. 21, moving far more swiftly than the rumors had led us to expect. But its timing wasn't Google's only surprise.

To date, the search king has used hardware partners Acer, Samsung, Lenovo and Hewlett-Packard to acquaint the world with a premise of the Chromebook as a very inexpensive, very Internet-reliant and cloud-focused laptop that's rarely a user's primary PC. But with the Pixel Google changed that definition.

While the Acer C7 Chromebook sells for $199 and the Samsung Chromebook for $249, the Pixel sells for $1,299 with WiFi-only connectivity and $1,449 with built-in Long Term Evolution (LTE) technology.

The Pixel has a 12.85-inch display and, as the rumors told us to expect, a touch-screen and a resolution of 2560 by 1700, giving it the most pixels ever put into a laptop.

The Pixel's mesmerizing screen was part of Google's plan, as it said, to make its cloud-focused laptop "disappear." But it still paid plenty of attention to what's left sitting on the desk.

"The body of the Pixel is made from an anodized aluminum alloy to create a smooth and durable surface; vents are hidden, screws are invisible and the stereo speakers are seamlessly tucked away beneath the backlit keyboard," Google Vice President of Engineering Linus Upson wrote in a Feb. 21 blog post. "The touch-pad is made from etched glass, analyzed and honed using a laser microscope to ensure precise navigation."

It also features an Intel Core i5 processor and a solid-state flash memory architecture for an Internet page-loading experience that's "near-instant," said Upson.

All of the expected Google applications, from Search to Google+ Hangouts are integrated. The system automatically updates from the cloud each week, so software is never outdated. Virus protection is built in, and the Pixel "requires almost zero set-up or maintenance."

The LTE model connects to Verizon Wireless' network—100MB per month is offered for two years. And since the Pixel is designed for "people who live in the cloud," Google is offering 1 terabyte of Google Drive cloud storage for three years. For connecting during travel, 12 free GoGo Inflight Internet passes are also included (with no mentioned expiration date).

The Pixel weighs 3.35 pounds, measures 11.7 by 8.8 by 0.64 inches, has two USB 2.0 ports, a mini display port and an SD/MMC card reader. It also has an Energy Star stamp of approval and five hours of battery life.

"For the price of a Chromebook Pixel, I could buy a Nexus 4, 7 & 10, plus an Acer Chromebook," Tweeted Technology Business Research analyst Ken Hyers.

In a later Tweet, Hyers added that he'd been wondering whether to buy a Chromebook, but that the Pixel is $800 or $900 more than he was expecting.
"Nice, but ouch!" wrote Hyers.

Gartner analyst Michael Gartenberg agreed that the Pixel isn't for everyone.

"It's Google's articulation of their vision of personal computing in a personal cloud world," he told eWEEK.

"While the low-end $249 devices reflected the limited functionality of the experience, Google's asking for a leap of faith here from consumers. A MacBook Air is cheaper; a MacBook Pro with a Retina display costs only a little more. Both run Chrome very well and do a whole lot more," Gartenberg continued. "This is not a mass-market device."

The WiFi version of the Pixel is now available in the Google Play store, for consumers in the United States and the U.K., and will begin shipping in three to five days. In a few days, it will also be available at Best Buy in the United States and Currys in the U.K. The LTE version will begin shipping in the United States in April.

"It's one of the most exciting times in the history of personal computing," wrote Upson. "We hope you enjoy what's next."

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