Dell, HP may be building premium Chromebooks to compete with Google Pixelbook

New Chromebooks built to compete with Google’s premium Pixelbook are reportedly in the works at Dell, HP, and three other manufacturers. Targeting professionals, they are expected to arrive in the latter half of 2018 sporting high resolutions, seventh-generation Intel processors, and up to 16GB of system memory. They’ll also supposedly support the Wake on Voice feature provided with Google Assistant. 

Typically, the Chrome OS team relies on a single “master board” when designing a new wave of Chromebooks. This master board is spun off into a number of variants for each Chromebook manufacturer. In this wave, the master board that is reportedly dubbed “Nami” that produced five variants: Akali, Nami, Pantheon, Sona, and Vayne. Sona is believed to be HP’s variant while Vayne is linked to Dell. 

That said, all five variants are expected to rely on high-voltage seventh-generation Intel processors, requiring internal fans to keep them cool. The actual model numbers are unknown at this point, but they are expected to be more powerful than Chromebooks supplied without fans. Presumably these Chromebooks will rely on integrated graphics given that you never see a Chromebook with a discrete graphics chip. 

Outside the processor aspect, the new Chromebooks are expected to include 8GB or 16GB of system memory, depending on the model, and backlit keyboards save for the Akali variant. As for storage, the hardware type is up in the air: will they use soldered eMMC storage or PCIe NVMe M.2 SSDs? 

Finally, the Nami design indicates that the upcoming Chromebooks will sport a 360-degree form factor packing screens with a 2,400 x 1,600 pixel resolution. But manufacturers could decide to use different screens with different resolutions to better distinguish their products from the competition. 

Google launched its premium Pixelbook in October 2017. With a starting price of $999, it features a 12.3-inch screen with a 2,400 x 1,600 resolution backed by a seventh-generation Intel Core i5 or i7 processor. It also provides 8GB or 16GB of system memory and between 128GB to 512GB of NVMe M.2 SSD storage, depending on your configuration. 

The last wave of Chromebooks manufactured for enterprise shipped in 2016. Since then, Google in August 2017 launched Chrome Enterprise, a subscription service built for businesses relying on Chrome OS-based devices. Costing $50 per device each year, the service provides IT with tools for managing Chrome OS services and devices. 

Chromebooks currently classified by Google as enterprise solutions include the Acer Chromebook 14, the Samsung Chromebook Pro, the HP Chromebook 14, the Lenovo Thinkpad 13 Chromebook, and more.  For instance, Samsung’s model packs a sixth-generation Intel processor, 4GB of system memory, 32GB of storage, and a 12.3-inch screen with a 2,400 x 1,600 resolution for a lighter $599. 

Meanwhile, development of the new enterprise wave is still in the early stages, so they’re not expected to appear until the fall or winter. There’s also no information regarding stylus support, but the upcoming Chromebooks are expected to run Linux-based apps along with Android apps from Google Play.

Google will likely talk more about Linux-based apps running on Chrome OS during its developers conference next week.

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