“Disposable.” When Eric Schmidt and Google first introduced Chrome OS, its operating system designed for desktop and laptop PCs, they kept using that word. Schmidt promised cheap devices that were essentially interchangeable — when all the computing power, storage, and apps come from the internet, because the entire operating system is just a slightly modified version of the Chrome browser, why build good hardware? Google even claimed to be entertaining the idea of selling you a free-on-contract PC.
Well the times, they are a changin’. The latest Chromebook off the assembly line, the Chromebook Pixel, is the first designed by Google itself, and it’s many things — but it’s sure as hell not disposable. From the ultra-high-resolution display to the powerful Intel processor, there’s nothing cheap or compromised about the Pixel.
Then there’s the price tag: $1,299, or $1,449 with an LTE connection and some data included. The price, and the Pixel itself, feel like a statement from Google: it’s bringing its armies over the hill, ready to fight head-on with Windows and OS X PCs. $1,299 typically buys you a pretty spectacular laptop, whether it’s a MacBook Air or any of a handful of high-end Windows ultrabooks — Google’s putting its cards on the table and betting it can measure up. Perhaps even more audacious, it’s betting that what we need from our laptops has changed, too.