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Updated: HP, not Google, is manufacturing the next premium Chromebook

Dan Isacsson

Google has quietly discontinued the $999 model of its Pixel Chromebook. The computer is now listed as “no longer available for sale” on the company’s online store — the only outlet from which customers can buy this particular system.

This news comes in the wake of the official unveiling of the Chromebook 13, the result of a collaboration between Google and HP. The specs offered up by the new laptop clearly render the $999 model of the Pixel a little dated.

The Chromebook 13 boasts an Intel Core M processor, a 32GB drive, and 16GB of RAM. The system also packs a touch screen and features a crisp, clean design that pairs with its impressive build quality to produce a laptop that feels like a premium product — even though it retails for just $499.

Related: Google’s Play Store pops up inside Google Chrome OS

On the other hand, the $999 model of the Pixel offers the same storage capacity and half as much RAM for twice the price. It does offer an SSD compared to the eMMC storage of the Chromebook 13, and its processor is the more powerful Core i5, but the price differential between the two systems is noteworthy.

Dropping the $999 model of the Pixel firmly cements the Chromebook 13 as a go-to midrange Chrome OS laptop. This news shouldn’t be taken as evidence that the Pixel line is set to die off completely, as the ultra-high-end $1,299 version seems to be sticking around for the foreseeable future, according to a report from Venture Beat.

Related: Take your Internet to go with our favorite Chromebooks

However, it could be a part of a larger reshuffle for Google’s hardware interests. This week, the company announced that it had hired former Motorola president Rick Osterloh to head its hardware division, and the Chromebook range looks set to be a major part of his remit as he transitions into the role.

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Chromebooks aren’t typically known for their hardware capabilities. You don’t usually need that extra horsepower on a Chromebook unless you’re the kind of person that keeps 20 tabs open at the same time. But recent discoveries in the Chromium OS source code suggest that a new model with 16GB of RAM and an Intel Skylake processor is on the way.

While initially thought to be currently under fabrication by Google, it’s actually Hewlett Packard who’s behind the new Chromebook.

The new device, codenamed “Chell,” is thought likely to feature an Intel Core M CPU, though a Pentium is also a possibility. All will come from 6th generation Skylake chip stock, however, and will be paired up with 16GB of RAM. There’s no word on a dedicated GPU, so we’re presuming on board HD Graphics or Iris processing will power the expected 3,200 x 1,800 resolution display.

Along with those internals, the new HP Chromebook is also predicted to have two USB ports — one USB-C and one USB-A. The snippets of code suggest too, that it will feature a SD card reader and Bluetooth compatibility.

Earlier code discovered in February, shows that it will also have a touchscreen and there are references in the comments that suggests the new laptop will have VR config settings.

Related: Discover your Chromebook’s hidden features with these 5 tips

This was initially thought to potentially mean that the new Chromebook would have some form of Virtual Reality support, but that is no longer the case. Not only would a Chromebook be very unlikely to have the requisite hardware for high-end virtual reality, but “VR” in that context is much more likely to stand for “voltage regulator,” instead.

Although there are some laptops designed with virtual reality in mind, they tend to be expensive, heavy and lack much battery power, because of the requirement for a hefty GPU to even come in at the low end of VR-compatibility.

Updated 10AM 4/19 by Jon Martindale: Updated to include newly rumored details about the laptop

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