Graduating from rumor to confirmation, Google's touch-enabled Chromebook is officially real. It's called Chromebook Pixel, just as Google teased in a YouTube video earlier this month, and with it comes a "rethinking" of the Chrome ecosystem, much in the same way Microsoft "reimagined" Windows when it introduced Windows 8.
"Today we’re excited to announce our newest laptop—the Chromebook Pixel—which brings together the best in hardware, software and design to inspire the next generation of Chromebooks," Google stated in a blog post. "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. The philosophy of Chrome has always been to minimize the 'chrome' of the browser. In much the same way, the goal of the Pixel is to make the pixels disappear, giving people the best web experience."
As its name implies, the Chromebook Pixel is focused on the display, which according to Google features the highest pixel density (239 pixels per inch) of any laptop screen on the market today. That works out to 4.3 million pixels spread across a 12.85-inch panel with a 3:2 photographic format designed for the web. In more direct terms, it has a 2650x1700 resolution, besting even Dell's U3011 30-inch monitor that we love so much.
It has a 0.55mm layer of touch-enabled Gorilla Glass fused directly to the screen. Google says this allows for smooth touch interactions while preserving picture clarity. You can tap, pinch-to-zoom, and swipe, just like a tablet.
The chassis is made from an anodized aluminum alloy. Vents and screws are hidden from view, but you won't have any trouble seeing the keyboard, which has an LED backlight. As for the touchpad, it's made from etched glass, "analyzed and honed using a laser microscope to ensure precise navigation."
This isn't just another Chromebook, or even a Chromebook with touch; for all intents and purposes, it's a luxury laptop with a price tag to match. There are two models to choose from, a 32GB version with Wi-Fi for $1,299 and a 64GB model with Wi-Fi and 4G LTE connectivity for $1,449. Both are a long ways from regular Chromebooks, which can be had for as little as $199.
Other hardware consists of a Intel Core i5 processor (dual-core clocked at 1.8GHz), 4GB of DDR3 memory, HD webcam, dual-band 802.11n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 3.0, 2-in-1 memory card reader (SD, MMC), two USB 2.0 ports, a mini DisplayPort, headphone/microphone jack, built-in microphone array, and "powerful speakers" powered by a custom DSP.
Still, it's an expensive proposition, though if it comes as any consolation, Google tosses in 1TB of Google Drive Cloud Storage for 3 years and 12 free sessions of GoGo Inflight Internet service.
If you ask Google about the price tag, they'll tell you that the Chromebook Pixel compares nicely with Apple's MacBook Air, which starts at $1,199 for a 13-inch model sans touch. Whether consumers see it that way remains to be seen, and we won't have to wait long to find out. The Chromebook Pixel is available to order right this very moment through Google Play.