Google is also selling a higher-end version of the Pixel, incidentally, that has a 5th-generation Intel Core i7 processor with 16GB of RAM and a 64GB solid-state drive. That laptop is priced at $1,299. Quite honestly, it's tough to imagine many situations where that level of horsepower would be necessary or even beneficial with Chrome OS; for the vast majority of people, there's simply no need to spend the extra $300.
One model that's missing compared to the last go-round is a device with built-in LTE connectivity. Google tells me it found most consumers were tethering to their phones instead of paying extra for an LTE-enabled laptop, so it decided to keep costs down by eliminating production of that option.
Some pundits are quick to pooh-pooh the idea of a high-end laptop for cloud-centric computing, but dismissing the Pixel for not being able to run traditional PC programs is missing the point.
The Pixel is intended to be a luxury laptop for people who rely primarily on Web-based services and are committed to the Chrome OS concept. The pros and cons of that platform are a whole other discussion (see my three-question quiz for a quick overview), but there's no reason you can't prefer that type of environment and also want high-end hardware that's exceptionally nice to use.
It's no different than paying more for a top-of-the-line Windows or Mac machine, if those are the platforms you prefer. In either scenario, a lower-end system can certainly get the job done, but the difference between using it and using a high-end device is akin to the contrast between driving a budget car and cruising around in a luxury sedan.
As far as laptops go, the new Pixel is remarkably close to perfection. It's a pleasure to use in almost every possible way -- and if you can justify its cost, it'll make life in the cloud feel like a first-class dream.
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