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Google Launches Revised Chromebook Pixel — Nicer, Still Not For Mainstream Buyers

The rumored, then-Google-confirmed Chromebook Pixel 2 is now finally here — and it’s just called the Pixel, again. Because Google, Apple, and everyone else likes to confuse the living heck out of us. It looks like a beauty, though, and this time around, the company has lowered the base price to something a bit more realistic for mainstream computer buyers: $999. Early reviews are in around the Web, and the consensus is that it’s a nice computer that few people need or will want to pay for — or, at least, pay what still amounts to a several-hundred-percent premium over garden-variety Chromebooks.

Chromebook Pixel

Let’s go over the hardware specifics. The new Pixel’s all-aluminum enclosure measures 11.7 by 8.8 by 0.6 inches (HWD) and weighs 3.3 pounds, putting it considerably heavier than the new MacBook and the existing two MacBook Airs, as well as many Windows-powered ultrabooks, if a tad lighter than the MacBook Pro Retina. There’s also an etched glass trackpad and what Google calls a contextually lit keyboard.

The Chromebook Pixel contains dual USB Type-C ports, putting a step ahead of the just-unveiled Apple MacBook. The ports can charge the machine, transfer data, or send out 4K video (with an optional adapter), and are frustration-free, in that you don’t have to orient the connector in a particular direction. The laptop also has two USB 3.0 ports and an SD card reader in addition to a standard-size 3.5mm headphone jack.

For the display, the new Chromebook Pixel features a 239ppi, 12.85-inch multi-touch screen at a bizarre (and very sharp) 2,560-by-1,700-pixel resolution — still rocking that strange 3:2 aspect ratio. The touch part is new this time around, and as a target machine for developers (like Nexus devices) including one makes sense; it just doesn’t do a whole lot now. You also get a 720p wide-angle front-facing glass camera, 802.11ac wireless on the 2.4GHz and 5GHz bands, Bluetooth 4.0, stereo speakers, and dual microphones. It also has much longer battery life, as some reviewers confirmed: a claimed 12 hours. And not only that, but 15 minutes of charging time will give you two hours of running.

The Chromebook Pixel starts at $999 — a $300 drop from the last model — and comes in two versions. That $999 price gets you an 5th-generation Intel Core i5 processor with HD Graphics 5500, 8GB RAM, and a 32GB SSD. Moving up to the $1,299 LS configuration switches to a first-ever (for a Chromebook) Core i7, 16GB RAM, and a 64GB SSD–a nice deal, in our opinion, although that price tier puts it right back to the troublesome one the first version sat on. (Note: At the time of this writing, Google calls the top-level configuration LS in a blog post, but doesn’t call it the LS in the store itself; we’ll see how that shakes out over the next few days, and whether the LS moniker sticks.)

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