Bonnie Cha

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Google-Built Chromebook Pixel Takes On the Power User

Taking a page out of Microsoft’s book, Google today announced that it is launching its own Chrome OS-based laptop called the Chromebook Pixel.

Previously, Google partnered with the likes of Samsung, Acer and HP to build its Chromebooks, but when thinking about the next generation of devices, the company decided to build its own machine to compete at the higher end of the market.

Designed for power users, the Pixel features a 12.85-inch touchscreen with a 3:2 aspect ratio. It’s the first Chromebook to offer a touch display, but that’s not what makes the laptop newsworthy.

With the launch of Windows 8, many device manufacturers, including HP, Dell, Samsung and Sony, have released a wide range of touchscreen laptops and hybrid devices.

Instead, Google claims the Pixel has the highest pixel density of any laptop screen on the market today. It has a resolution of 2,560 by 1,700 pixels at 239 pixels per inch (ppi). By comparison, the 13-inch MacBook Pro with Retina display has a resolution of 2,560 by 1,600 pixels at 227 ppi, and the 13-inch MacBook Air has a resolution of 1,440 by 900 at 128 ppi.

Google said the goal of the Pixel was to make the pixels disappear, so users could have the best Web experience.

The laptop is made from anodized aluminum alloy and has a backlit keyboard and a touchpad etched from glass. There is a 720p Webcam for video chats, and three built-in microphones to cancel out background noise. That said, the third mic doesn’t work with all services, such as Google Hangouts, just yet.

Available in a Wi-Fi and a 4G LTE version, the Chromebook Pixel is powered by an Intel Core i5 processor and has a 32 gigabyte solid-state drive (64GB for the LTE model). In addition to 4GB of DDR3 RAM, users will also get one terabyte of free storage on Google Drive for three years. Battery life is estimated at five hours.

The features are an improvement over previous Chromebook models. Google says the Chromebook Pixel is meant to compete with the likes of the MacBook Pro. It’s a lofty goal, considering that the Chromebook doesn’t have some of the power and graphics capabilities of the MacBook, and only runs Web-based apps, which aren’t as robust as native desktop apps. Factor in the high price, and it might be a tough sell.

The Wi-Fi version of the Chromebook Pixel costs $1,299, and is available today from the Google Play store; it starts shipping next week. It will also be sold at Best Buy. Meanwhile, the LTE version is priced at $1,499 and is expected to be available in April.

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Just as the atom bomb was the weapon that was supposed to render war obsolete, the Internet seems like capitalism’s ultimate feat of self-destructive genius, an economic doomsday device rendering it impossible for anyone to ever make a profit off anything again. It’s especially hopeless for those whose work is easily digitized and accessed free of charge.

— Author Tim Kreider on not getting paid for one’s work