Google unveils new generation “Chromebook Plus”

white laptop on a green meadow

The whispers of a new generation of Chromebooks, initially dubbed ‘Chromebook X’, have been swirling around for some time. It’s now confirmed that Google has decided to christen these new devices as ‘Chromebook Plus’.

You may, in fact, already be in possession of one. The latest addition to the Chromebook Plus family is believed to be a laptop that has recently been sighted – the 14-inch Lenovo IdeaPad Flex 5i Chromebook Plus. This name, however, is not set in stone as it was extracted from Google’s Omaha server by the team at Chrome Unboxed.

Earlier leaks reported by 9to5Google indicated that Acer, Asus, and HP were all hard at work on their own Chromebook Plus models. Lenovo now joins this list. Intriguingly, an existing Lenovo IdeaPad Flex 5i model was also mentioned in the original leak as a potential candidate for an upgrade to Plus status via a software update.

But what is the Chromebook Plus really about? The Plus specification isn’t something to be overly thrilled about – at least not yet. It’s Google’s way of distinguishing its high-end ChromeOS laptops from the rest, with new, yet-to-be-revealed minimum requirements for system performance and hardware quality. Several of the top-tier Chromebooks might already fit this category, particularly the pricier ones like the HP Elite Dragonfly Chromebook. However, it remains uncertain whether any existing Chromebooks will adopt the Plus branding, as the code change that initially hinted at the possibility of upgrading current laptops to Plus level was quickly erased.

As for the Lenovo IdeaPad Flex 5i Chromebook Plus – a rather unwieldy name, admittedly – we should probably keep our expectations in check. Codenamed ‘Tabor’, the laptop’s Chromium Repositories entry reveals little, except that it will feature a new microphone mute button on the top row of the keyboard. It’s likely that the new device won’t deviate significantly from the existing IdeaPad Flex 5i Chromebook. Notably, the latter isn’t a high-end laptop, suggesting that the Chromebook Plus might be more about software prowess than hardware design requirements. In conclusion, I find myself agreeing with Robby from Chrome Unboxed: the Plus brand is unlikely to dazzle us right out of the gate. However, with a bit of nurturing and strategic investment from Google, this new breed of Chromebooks could potentially thrive.

John Biggs

John Biggs is an entrepreneur, consultant, writer, and maker. He spent fifteen years as an editor for Gizmodo, CrunchGear, and TechCrunch and has a deep background in hardware startups, 3D printing, and blockchain. His work has appeared in Men’s Health, Wired, and the New York Times.

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