Google launches AirPods-rival Pixel Buds alongside Pixelbook Go laptop

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Updated: October 16, 2019 12:06:44 AM

Google's efforts to develop its own hardware have generated mixed results since becoming a priority for the search company four years ago

Alphabet Inc’s Google on Tuesday unveiled a mid-tier laptop aimed at users on the go, the first of several big announcements expected at the company’s annual hardware launch event.

The Pixelbook Go, starting at $649, features a textured bottom panel, meant to make it easier to grip with one hand while working in transit, Google’s hardware design chief Ivy Ross said at the announcement at a New York art studio.

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Google’s efforts to develop its own hardware have generated mixed results since becoming a priority for the search company four years ago. Its smart speakers and Wifi routers are popular in several countries, but its smartphones and laptops have gained little traction versus industry leaders such as Samsung Electronics Co and Apple Inc.

The new 13.3-inch (33.8 cm) touchscreen laptop follows the Pixelbook, which debuted in 2017 with a starting price of $999 but has barely made a dent on the market, to the point that some market researchers do not track it.

Google slashed costs for Pixelbook Go by shifting to magnesium from aluminum for the laptop exterior and removing hinges and wiring that enabled the prior model to be used like a tablet, product leaders Ben Janofsky and Matt Vokoun said in an interview.

It also improved the design of components such as the trackpad to cut manufacturing mishaps and therefore costs. But the company still included a 15% larger battery and reduced the overall weight of the device to 2.3 lb (1.04 kg) from 2.4 lb.

Pre-orders for the Pixelbook Go, which runs Google’s ChromeOS operating system, began Tuesday in the United States and Canada.

Google also announced Pixel Buds, a set of wireless earbuds launching next spring in the United States for $179. The company said it “scanned thousands of ears to create a design that’s comfortable for as many people as possible.” They include hands-free access to Google Assistant.

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