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Google’s Chromebook Pixel unveiled

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San Francisco - Google on Thursday unveiled a touch-screen notebook computer designed for high-end PC users, throwing down a gauntlet for Apple and its MacBooks.

Google said its Chromebook Pixel computers - blending tablet and laptop technology and 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,” Chrome senior vice-president Sundar Pichai said while showing off the premium end of what, to now, were low-priced notebook computers that serve as windows to Internet-based services.

A Pixel model featuring built-in connectivity to Verizon mobile Internet service will hit the market in April at a price of $1 449, according to Google.

The version available on Thursday allowed connections to the Internet 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 hoped people look beyond comparing Pixel prices with competitors such as MacBooks or laptops built on Windows 8 software to see the value the touch-screen and the massive terabyte of Google Drive online data storage included.

“It is clear that touch is here to stay and that it is the future,” Pichai said. “I am sure every laptop will have touch in the future.”

He described the Pixel screen resolution as superior to that on any laptop being shipped today, including Apple's premium MacBook models.

Google also set out to remedy a complaint by Chrome notebook users frustrated when trying to work with documents or spreadsheets made with Microsoft's widely used Word or Excel software.

Within three months, Google will release Quickoffice software for handling those types of files, according to Pichai.

The announcement adds a new dimension to the rivalry between the two tech giants, which are in a fierce battle over smartphones and tablets. - AFP

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