Leaving behind the gaggle of low-priced low-end Chromebooks, Google is bringing its Chrome operating system to a premium notebook. The Chromebook Pixel, which starts at $1,299 and features a Retina-like touch screen display and a Core i5 processor, aims to compete with the MacBook Air rather than sticking to its goal of making Chromebooks affordable for everyone.

The Chromebook Pixel is appropriately named, cramming 2560 x 1760 pixels into a 12.86-inch screen for a density of 239 pixels per inch. This bests both the 13-inch and 15-inch MacBook Pros with Retina Display, which are 227 ppi and 220 ppi respectively. Google opted against the industry-standard widescreen display,  instead including a 3:2 aspect ratio screen on the Chromebook Pixel. Google hopes this taller screen will make Internet browsing a better experience, since majority of websites scroll down rather than side to side.

Not only is the display pixel dense, it is also a touch screen, much like majority of the new Windows 8 notebooks. Some of Google’s Chrome apps have been optimized for touch input, such as a Google+ photo sharing service, but the company is also encouraging developers to take advantage of the Pixel’s touch screen.

The notebook will be powered by a 1.8 GHz Intel Core i5 dual core processor with an integrated Intel HD Graphics 4000 GPU and 4GB of RAM. Google claims the notebooks should get up to five hours of “active use,” but we’ve seen battery life be troublesome for notebooks with touchscreens. Like the MacBook Air, the cooling vents are completely hidden and the speakers are located under the keyboard.

There will be two versions of the Chromebook Pixel, one with Wi-Fi only and the second that includes Verizon LTE. This setup more closely mirrors the Apple iPad, which offers both Wi-Fi only and cellular models, rather than traditional notebooks on the market. The Wi-Fi version, which costs $1,299,  includes 32GB of flash storage and is available now in the Google Play store with expected delivery in three to five business days. The Wi-Fi plus LTE version, which has 64GB of storage, is available for $1,449, but won’t ship for another six or seven weeks.

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This story was originally written for LAPTOP and is republished with permission here. Copyright 2012 Laptopmag.com.