Google's Chromebook has grown from a curious niche to a bona-fide (if still nichey) alternative to a Windows or Mac-based laptop. With the Chromebook Pixel, Google has not only made its first ultrabook (previous Chromebooks were manufactured by third parties) but it has gone after the high-end of the market.
The centerpiece of the Pixel is the high-resolution, touch-screen display. The 12.5-inch display packs 4.3 million pixels (2560 x 1700), surpassing Apple's Retina display as the current high-pixel-density champ. The Pixel packs a 1.8GHz Intel Core i5 processor, Intel Graphics 4000, 4GB of RAM, and built-in Bluetooth. It weighs in at 3.3 pounds with a backlit keypad, glass touchpad and built-in 720p HD video camera.
As $1,299 Chromebook Pixel offers 32GB of SSD memory. A $1,499 version adds LTE mobile broadband and doubles the memory to 64GB. Both versions will include 1TB worth of Google Drive cloud storage for three years (after that, you'll have to pay), plus 12 free GoGo in-flight Wi-Fi passes.
If there was one theme to the Chromebook Pixel's reviews it was angst. Reviewers, for the most part, were absolutely enamored with the display, the build quality of the hardware and the overall performance of the Pixel. But almost none of them would actually recommend it as laptop worth paying $1,299 for. The Chrome OS and a completely cloud-based existence isn't a proposition many consumers find appealing and for the same price, you could avail yourself to a MacBook Air or high-end Windows 8 ultrabooks that offer far more functionality.
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