SAN FRANCISCO - Google is adding a new and more expensive touch to its line of Chrome laptops in an attempt to outshine personal computers running on software made by rivals Microsoft and Apple.
The Chromebook Pixel unveiled Thursday includes a nearly 13-inch display screen that responds to the touch or swipe of a finger. That duplicates a key feature in Microsoft Corp.'s Windows 8, a dramatic makeover of the world's leading operating system for PCs.
The Pixel's high-resolution screen displays 239 pixels per inch, slightly more than Apple Inc.'s MacBooks with high-resolution Retina displays. A MacBook Pro with a screen that measures 13.1 inches diagonally can handle 227 pixels per inch, while the 15.4-inch model is at 220 pixels per inch.
Google Inc. designed and built the Pixel for "power users" - a fastidious and generally more affluent segment of the PC market willing to pay more for machines equipped with compelling features and components not found in cheaper laptops.
The strategy is a departure for Google, which had positioned Chromebooks based on its Chrome operating system as affordable options for homes and offices looking for a quick and easy way to connect to the Web. Google has partnered with PC makers to make Chromebooks over the past two years. Among them: Acer Inc. makes a bare-bones Chromebook for just $199; Samsung Electronics Co. sells one for $249.
The Pixel, which Google is building without a partner, will cost $1,299 for a Wi-Fi only model with 32 gigabytes of flash storage. A 64-gigabyte machine that can connect on both Wi-Fi and a 4G LTE cellular network will cost $1,499. That's the same price as the cheapest MacBook Pro with a comparable screen, though the Apple laptop comes with 128 gigabytes of storage.
Apple does have a cheaper, lighter laptop, the MacBook Air. A 13-inch model with 128 gigabytes of storage starts at $1,199. It weighs less than 3 pounds and doesn't have a high-resolution screen. The Pixel has the high-resolution screen and weighs 3.35 pounds. The 13-inch high-resolution MacBook Pro weighs 3.57 pounds.
Google contends Pixel is a better value than the Air, given its higher-resolution screen with touch controls. Google is also throwing in 1 terabytes of free online storage in its data centers for three years - a benefit the company estimates would cost $500 to $600.