Google confirms high-end Chromebook Pixel, surprising some

Google's Chromebook Pixel went up for sale on the Play store on Thursday, to the surprise of some industry observers who had expressed doubts over earlier rumors that the device was on the way.

In sharp contrast to previous Chromebook models, which have placed the emphasis on keeping costs low, the Pixel is aimed directly at the higher end of the market, featuring premium components -- and a correspondingly elevated price.

[ PREVIOUSLY: Leaked Chromebook video raises questions beginning with: Is it real? ]

The centerpiece of the Chromebook Pixel, which was designed in-house by Google, is the screen. At 12.85 inches, the 2560x1700 resolution gives it a pixel density of 239 ppi, and it boasts touch-sensitivity as well.

Internally, the Pixel features a dual-core Intel Core i5 processor, running at 1.8GHz, which implies either an i5-3427U or i5-3337U, according to Intel's product pages. It also uses Intel's HD 4000 integrated graphics functionality, and packs 4GB of RAM and either 32GB or 64GB of solid-state storage, depending on the model.

Google says the Pixel comes with a free terabyte of Google Drive cloud storage for three years, as well as 12 free GoGo Inflight Internet sessions for the traveling user.

The initially available model -- priced at $1,300 -- is the 32GB with Wi-Fi connectivity only, but the company says a $1,450, 64GB, LTE-enabled option will ship within six to seven weeks. (Verizon will provide the latter device with 100MB/month of LTE service for two years.)

Initial reaction to the Pixel has been mixed. ZDNet blogger Howard Lo says it's unlikely to be anything more than a driver of sales for the comparable Microsoft Surface Pro, but Computerworld's JR Raphael says that the inclusion of a generous amount of cloud storage could prove to be an important selling point for the device.

Email Jon Gold at jgold@nww.com and follow him on Twitter at @NWWJonGold.

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