|Sundar Pichai, senior vice president of Chrome at Google, holds up the new Chromebook Pixel on Thursday. (Bloomberg)|
SAN FRANCISCO (AFP) ― Google unveiled a touchscreen notebook computer Thursday designed for high-end users, throwing down the gauntlet to Apple and its MacBooks.
Google said its Chromebook Pixel computers blending tablet and laptop technology, boasting heavyweight Intel chips and screens tailored for rich graphics, were released in the United States and Britain, starting at $1,299.
“People will give up a MacBook Air for this,” Google Chrome senior vice president Sundar Pichai said.
A Pixel model featuring built-in connectivity to the Verizon mobile Internet service will hit the US market in April at a price of $1,449.
The newly unveiled version can connect online with wireless hot-spot technology or cables.
“It’s a great-looking product,” Om Malik of technology news website GigaOM said at the Pixel debut in San Francisco.
“But Google is facing a selling problem, they have to compete on price originally and build a developer base for a high-end product.”
Google is hoping enthusiasts will forego price comparisons with competitors such as MacBooks or laptops built on Windows 8 software and focus instead on the Pixel’s touchscreen feature and the massive terabyte of Google Drive online data storage included.
“It seems like a pretty hard sell,” said Forrester analyst James McQuivey. “I hope they are not planning to make a lot of money off it.”
While the Pixel seems aimed at the MacBook market, it also faces fierce competition from touchscreen laptops based on Windows 8 software.