Google unveils touch-based Chromebook Pixel

New laptop has good features but the price tag could be an issue, says analyst

Google on Thursday took the wraps off the Chromebook Pixel, a touch-screen-enabled laptop.

Inspiring its name, the new Chromebook has 4.3 million pixels, or 239 pixels per inch, which Google noted is more than any other laptop screen on the market and twice as many as in a typical high-definition television. The laptop also runs an Intel Core i5 processor and the Chrome operating system. It also has Google Search, Gmail, YouTube, Maps and Google+ Hangouts integrated into the system.

Chromebook Pixel
Google's Chromebook Pixel is a touch-screen-enabled laptop. (Image: Google)

"With the Pixel, we set out to rethink all elements of a computer in order to design the best laptop possible, especially for power users who have fully embraced the cloud," wrote Linus Upson, Google's vice president of engineering. "The goal of the Pixel is to ... give people the best Web experience."

The Pixel is available for purchase on Google Play in the U.S. and the U.K. It will also be for sale at soon, though Google did not specify a date.

"The Google Chromebook looks to be a sporty laptop," said Dan Olds, an analyst with The Gabriel Consulting Group. "From a configuration and performance standpoint, it looks like a solid system. It also has some useful frills too, like a high-quality webcam, three microphones, and plenty of ports."

Other features are five hours of battery life and the touch screen, according to Olds. A problem, however, could be the price, which he said is higher than he would expect.

The Wi-Fi version, which is priced at $1,299, is set to start shipping next week, while the LTE version, which comes in at $1,449, is scheduled for release in April.

"Other Chromebooks list for $350 or $250 while Google is listing the Pixel at $1,299 for the cheap model," noted Olds. "That's a big number."

Olds said there are reasons the Pixel has a higher price tag - the touchscreen, higher resolution and more RAM. It's also a lightweight machine, at 3.35 pounds.

"I think the price puts it into a new competitive category," he added. "It's going to be competing heads-up with traditional Windows-based laptops -- primarily Ultrabooks -- now."

Google said the body of the new Chromebook is made from an anodized aluminum alloy which gives the machine a smooth and durable surface. The touchpad is made from etched glass, while the notebook has three microphones, designed to cancel out surrounding noise.

Sharon Gaudin covers the Internet and Web 2.0, emerging technologies, and desktop and laptop chips for Computerworld. Follow Sharon on Twitter at @sgaudin, on Google+ or subscribe to Sharon's RSS feed . Her email address is

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