Google announces Chromebook Pixel, goes gunning for MacBook

Google has just entered the laptop market with the Chromebook Pixel, a first-party flagship for their non-Android, more cloud-based operating system. Here's what Google had to say:

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. 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.

It comes with some interesting specs, including a nearly 13-inch screen with a Retina-like 2560x1700 display, but made out of Gorilla Glass and sporting multitouch like an iPad or Android tablet. It's only got 32GB of on-board storage, but you get a whopping 1TB of cloud-storage for 3 years. An Intel dual-core Core i5 with HD Graphics 400 lies at its heart, along with 4GB of RAM and a battery that lasts up to 5 hours. And the price?

$1300 for Wi-Fi, $1450 for LTE.

Which is interesting.

Google subsidizes their mobile devices to keep the price down, but the Chromebook Pixel is premium priced. It costs more than Adobe CS6, and it can't even run Adobe CS6. It's got a Google store product page up that looks as though it were cut and pasted from, and while it has features that don't exist on MacBooks, like multitouch, its cost puts it right between the, in some ways much more capable, MacBook Air and the Retina MacBook Pro.

Personally, the Pixel is a non-starter for me. I've tried using an iPad and a MacBook Air locked to Safari as an experiment, and I couldn't last more than an hour or so without needing (not wanting) real, native apps. Sure, Google Chrome OS has more hooks, but not enough. I still carry a MacBook Pro with me everywhere I go for a reason.

Would a Chromebook be a better choice than an iPad for my mom, and other empowered users? Maybe some. I don't think the cloud, even Google's, is sufficient yet, but we'll see how the early Chromebook adopters do.

If you want 1TB of Google Drive, the Pixel is definitely the cheapest, smartest way to go. Though I question how many people really have the bandwidth to exploit that much cloud storage. I know, with my monthly cost and data cap, I couldn't.

Right now, Pixel looks to be a computer for people who love Google more than their wallets or common sense.

And when exactly did Apple lose that market?

Source: Google via Android Central

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Rene Ritchie

EiC of iMore, EP of Mobile Nations, Apple analyst, co-host of Debug, Iterate, Vector, Review, and MacBreak Weekly podcasts. Cook, grappler, photon wrangler. Follow him on Twitter and Google+.

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Reader comments

Google announces Chromebook Pixel, goes gunning for MacBook


Google offers you a low cost solution to the Pixel if you still want Chrome OS (Acer C7, $199). Nothing like that exists with the MacBook Air, which is too bad. Could you imagine a $199.00 MacBook Air?

That CS6 comparison makes a good point. Isn't the exact person that would be interested in a laptop with a screen like this the same kind of person that would run at least some portion of CS6?

It's obviously not a 1:1 relationship, but I'd be willing to be there's significant overlap. It will be very interesting to watch how this sells and see what Google ends up learning from the experience.

Google will learn that nothing they make should EVER cost that kind of money. When I saw the price listed in the article, I immediately thought it had to be a misprint.

This post made by a Google Fan, an Android user & typed out on an Android tablet. So, it pains me to say ... the Pixel team at Google is nuts.

Sure, if the Pixel was more useful, it'd be a nice machine to consider.

My only other gripe is with iMore ... the predictable connotation that the Pixel web site is a ripoff of an Apple Web site is just ... lazy. Apple is NOT the only company to produce aesthetic web designs, nor does the Pixel site look anything like an Apple site; so, quit with the b.s. iMore. lol.

I have the ARM powered Samsung Chromebook. I got it for $249 and it does everything almost everything I need in a laptop. It's thin, light and gets about 7 hours of use on a charge. That being said the main reason I bought it was the pricepoint. The limited OS available in a Chromebook is great for $249, for $1299 it's a tough sell. Obviously the screen and build quality on the Pixle will be much better than my Samsung but not 5 times better,

Is Google's business model to just copy everything Apple does? Android, Nexus phone, Nexus tablet, Chromebook pixel, retail stores. What's next?

Intel Ultrabook-killer.

Oh, wait. No, Ultrabooks are killing themselves. Maybe Google can re-purpose the Pixel and drop its price by $200 or $300. You know, so it can be a Surface-killer. Oh, wait...

I just don't get this device. Didn't they pitch for power users? I think they're confusing power users who need, um, real power with business users who just need a business suite (assuming you don't actually need real accounting software for example). As long as your business isn't tied to MS Office I guess this kind of maybe makes sense. But when I can do everything this can do and more on a similarly priced Mac or PC (with or without touch screen)... A $300 Chromebook I get, not a $1300 one.

"All cars have steering wheels, but no one tries to claim that the steering wheel was their invention." Great quote from a film. But the point is Google produces a cloud based computers with a high resolution screen and this website automatically views it as a product aimed for the macbook market? Pshh. Ever assumed its meant to push cloud based computing and meant to compete against...say... all computers, especially windows and touch based windows 8 (though 8 is not doing so well? Is your world so Apple centric that the only definition for laptop or pc in general is a macbook? I know its an Apple focused site but this article is far beyond ignorant. Now sorry for this but this super long quote best applies to this article.

Larry Ellison
President, Oracle
People make a terrible mistake of thinking IBM is the present and Microsoft is the future and I think IBM is the past and Microsoft is the present and the future has not happened so we don't know what company, what technology is going to be dominant. These are temple guardians from the Koma Kura period ah and they you know you would have one on either side of your door and the job was to scare employees of Microsoft away and keep them from entering the Temple. We shouldn't spend all of our time wringing our hands about Microsoft you know Microsoft world domination that eh there still room enough for innovation - there's going to be change and Microsoft's future is not assured. Anything good for the Internet. Yeah IÍm very supportive of it because the Internet does not require a PC.

Larry believes the PC will be replaced with a cheap device he calls an information appliance. It will be a glorified television which will access information and computing simply by connecting to giant computers via the Internet. Just like turning on a tap - and the PC will go the way of the well and the bucket.

Larry Ellison
"I hate the PC with a passion. Me going down to the store and buying Windows 95, I've got to get into my car drive down to a store buy a cardboard box full of bits you know encoded on a piece of plastic CDROM and you bring it home and read a manual install this thing - you must be kidding you know, put the stuff on the net - it's bits, don't put bits in cardboard, cardboard in trucks, trucks to stores, me go to the store, you know, pick the stuff out, it's insane. OK I love the Internet - I want information you know it flows across the wire."

You do realize that you are on a website devoted to Apple products right? If this were I would expect the article to compare it to the Playbook. As it stands, it is an extremely expensive browser based computer. That, unfortunately, makes it useless to a lot of people.
I think that one day the cloud will be to a point where a machine like this works, but I don't expect to see it within the next 10 years. MAYBE if America were truly trying to build out a fiber optic internet solution to the entire country, rather than trying to gouge the people in more rural areas with wireless $15 a gig pricing, we might see it within 10 years. Sadly, we won't. As it stands right now AT&T stopped their fiber 1.75 miles from our box, which is over capacity. They refuse to run fiber or more wire for DSL. Instead they are simply not selling any more internet and try to push people to wireless cards... at $10-$15 a gig.

great point but my comment was more focused on the misconception that the pixel is "gunning for macbook" as opposed to computers in general. and i believe that this product, along with the much more affordable versions of chromebooks are pushing for the cloud move. i think this article was written in order simply to criticize without giving sometime for the product to sink in. it should have been simply informative and not opinion based. having said that google today released a video showing how to run Linux on it showing its much more than what this author prematurely and incorrectly made it out to be.

OK, so Google makes this daft a move, and their stock goes up a bit and doesn't tank? Apple performs fabulously well, and their stock has been down. Sheesh!

First, as others have pointed out, that is WAY too much for a browser!

Second, why a touch-screen on a notebook? I'm serious, I just don't get that.

Third, don't apps need to be updated for retina-like to really matter? The Web is hardly retina updated.

Fourth, what do you do when you're not in the cloud? And, as Rene pointed out, a lot of ISP plans aren't exactly cloud-friendly. And, this isn't a desktop; it is a laptop (ie: MOBILE!!!).

I love your closing comment. Seems something for the fans or the non-thinking types to me as well.

Sure it is nice hardware, but what is the point of spending $1300 for a web browser? I really don't understand who would buy this when you can buy similar hardware at this price that can do more. Having said that, it is impressive that a software company can make a nice piece of hardware when PC vendors had to be pushed by intel to come out with ultrabooks.

I'm no Google fan and I won't be buying a Chromebook Pixel, but I don't think the store product page looks like they "pasted it from" They may have taken a page from Apple's book, but it's not a disingenuous raw copy. We need to stop trying to fan the flame when there is none.

I don't think that the pixel will be any competition for apple right now. It is the hardware for developers to build good enough apps for future chrome books . No one would pay that much for a laptop that can't install native applications. They are using the same model they used for their mobile operating system. Develop the hardware first then the developers will design apps for the next generation software.