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Google's Chromebook Pixel is Real, 13", $1300

By Norman Chan

It's a touchscreen laptop with a really high-resolution display.

So that leaked marketing video from earlier this month turned out to be real. Today, Google announced the Chromebook Pixel, a 13" laptop with respectable specs: it runs a 1.8GHz Core i5 processor from Intel, has 4GB of RAM, 32GB of solid state storage, and 2560x1700 touchscreen display shielded by Gorilla Glass. It also starts at $1,300. And it also still runs Chrome OS.

That makes the Pixel a very strange product indeed. Its technical capabilities and price make it a premium laptop, competing with high-end ultrabooks and Apple's 13" MacBook Pro with Retina display (which has a similar 2560x1600 resolution screen). But Chrome OS has not matured to a point where it can provide the high-end software and services that users have come to expect from a desktop replacement--it's intentionally designed as a lightweight OS to run Google services and web apps. That's why previous Chromebooks have made affordability and portability their selling points. Web browsing and photo viewing will no doubt look great on the Pixel--but heavy video editing work and high-resolution image processing won't be as easy without the software we're used to on Windows, Mac, and even Linux.

The most interesting aspect of the Pixel is its high-resolution touchscreen, something neither current Windows laptops and Apple's MacBooks can claim. Windows 8 laptops work great with touch, but they only go up to 1080p. Apple has opted for the opposite route, putting high-resolution screens on its Retina laptops but relegating touch to its iOS devices. As a believer of touch on "traditional" computers, I think combing touch with high-resolution displays is the natural evolution of desktop and mobile computing, and good for Google for making that first step. Hopefully its a sign that they have bigger plans for software support on Chrome OS, which we're sure to hear about at I/O.

What I really want to know: would it be possible to install Windows 8 on the Chromebook Pixel?

If the Chromebook Pixel is something you're interested in, Google has started selling them today, and says the laptop will start shipping next week.

Correction: The 13" MacBook Pro Retina has a 2560x1600 resolution screen with a 16:10 aspect ratio. The Chromebook Pixel has a 3:2 aspect ratio display.