Google's Chromebook Pixel: A high-end, high-priced touchscreen laptop
Feb 21, 2013 (San Jose Mercury News - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) --
SAN FRANCISCO -- Convinced that computer users are increasingly living their lives "in the cloud," Google on Thursday added to the line of laptops running its own Chrome operating system by introducing a new high-end, high-priced notebook computer with touch-screen capability.
The new Chromebook Pixel laptop has an ultra-high resolution screen that's intended to beat similar offerings from Apple. And unlike Google's earlier Chromebooks that were sold for $249 as "second computers" for workers, students and home users, the new device is aimed at "power users" who are willing to fork over $1,299 for a wifi model or $1,499 for a version that will connect to Verizon's high-speed LTE network.
That's a price many
laptop users would expect to pay for an Apple Macbook or a high-end ultrabook running Windows, which come with far more storage and run widely used applications from Apple and Microsoft. Google's Chromebooks have relatively small amounts of built-in flash memory -- 32 or 64 gigabytes -- and no hard drive. But the new Pixel will come with a staggering one terabyte of online storage so users can keep their files online and use software applications that are stored on Internet servers "in the cloud."
"There's a set of users who spend money to buy full-fledged laptops, but this is targeted to a segment who have committed to living in the cloud," Google vice president Sundar Pichai told reporters at a launch event Thursday.
Pixel laptop was designed and built by Google, using a contract manufacturer in Taiwan. It represents a further move by the Internet search giant into the business of making its own hardware devices. But the Chrome operating system is designed to encourage people to use Google's web-based services, which are often integrated with its search and advertising business.
"Many companies have committed to using Google apps," he added, referring to Google's suite of web-based email, word-processing, spreadsheets and other programs. "They live in the cloud."
Consumers are also increasingly using apps and programs over the web, he contended. "My Mom and Dad live in the cloud. They just don't know what the cloud is."
Pichai added that the new laptop is designed for users who want premium features, including a full keyboard, an extra-tall touchscreen and a high-speed Intel processor.
A number of other PC makers have laptops that offer touch capabilities, but Pichai said none have as high a resolution as the Pixel, which boasts 239 pixels per inch. "I'm petty sure every laptop will have touch in the future, so we want to push that forward," he said.
While critics of earlier Chromebooks have complained of limited
apps or incompatibility with more widely used software made by Microsoft and Apple, Pichai said new software will make it easier for Chrome users to edit documents and spreadsheets created on machines running Microsoft programs.
Pichai also acknowledged that Chrome in some ways competes with Google's other operating system, Android, which powers a number of smartphones and tablets made by Google and other hardware companies.
The two operating systems are compatible, so files and applications look the same on a Chrome laptop as they do on an Android smartphone, he said. "This helps us make apps look great across multiple screens," he said, adding that many users won't notice or care which software they're using.
Google will sell the new laptops through its online store starting Thursday and through Best Buy's website starting Friday. A small number of Best Buy stores will have models available for demonstration, but they still must be purchased online. Pichai avoided a direct answer when asked about rumors that Google is planning to some day open its own retail stores.
Contact Brandon Bailey at 408-920-5022; follow him at Twitter.com/BrandonBailey
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