Google launched a major upgrade Thursday to
its line of Chromebook computers: a touchscreen device called the
Pixel that starts at 1,300 dollars for the Wi-Fi only version.
Prior to Thursday's launch the Chromebook line was positioned as a low cost netbook priced as low as 200 dollars, with no hard drive and running all functions through Google's Chrome browser.
The new device by contrast boasts the highest resolution screen available in a laptop, according to Google and represents the company's first challenge to Apple's dominance of high-end laptops. The inclusion of touchscreen capabilities also represent a response to Microsoft new operating system Windows 8.
Unlike traditional PCs and Macs that use installed software such as Microsoft Word that require heavy-duty operating systems and storage, the new Chromebooks run their applications via remote web-based servers.
The Pixel features flash-based drives of either 34GB or 64GB and is designed to appeal to heavy users of cloud-based services. Google will provide Pixel owners with 1 terabyte of data storage in the cloud for three years.
"It's clear touch is here to stay and it's the future," said Sundar Pichai, senior vice president of Chrome at Google, at the launch event. "We think this is a real game changer in terms of people living in the cloud."
The device runs on an Intel Core i5 chip and has 4GB of RAM. The 13-inch screen has a 2560x1700 pixel display and is covered with Gorilla Glass for protection. Google said the battery lasts up to five hours with typical usage.
The 1,300 dollar version with 32GB and Wi-Fi goes on sale immediately in the US and UK, while the 64GB version, which includes 3G and 4G cellular connectivity, will be available in April.
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