After landing in the right place at a tight time when millions of displaced students needed something that offered at least a keyboard and webcam, Chrome OS has seen tremendous growth over the past year. Google’s desktop operating system, which powers many laptops so cheap they would make the clunky netbooks of yore expensive, now accounts for about one in five PCs sold in the United States. Android, Linux apps, progressive web apps, and virtualized and cloud-hosted versions of Windows.
Progress contrasts with early attempts to bring Android into desktop environments (including HP SlateBooks circa 2013). Still, as Android did with phones, Chrome OS struggles to break out of its status as the go-to operating system for the under $ 300 bundles of articulated mediocrity. Google tried to shatter that perception itself with a progression of ambitious Chrome OS devices, including the MacBook-style Pixelbook, Pixel C, and Pixel Slate, before releasing the more mainstream and less inspiring Pixelbook Go.
Now, however, after turning to partners to complement the mid-range and high-end flappers and 2-in-1s, Google appears to be working closely with some partners on hero devices. It is reminiscent of the spirit, if not the co-branding, of the old Nexus program. After all, following the influx of Chrome OS into homes during the pandemic, PC makers may be making the case for extending the device family to Chrome OS customers. This week, HP jumped at the opportunity with two devices that push Chrome OS out of its wide-bezel plastic comfort zone.
The first is HP’s Chromebook x2 11, a follow-up to its 2018 12.3-inch x2 Chromebook 2. A 2-in-1 tablet with both a removable keyboard and a kickstand, the x2 11 is like a version of luxury of the Lenovo Chromebook Duet. , another product that Google has helped guide. The HP tablet replaces a Qualcomm Snapdragon 7c – itself an example of the expansion of the Chrome OS ecosystem after a long flirtation – for the MediaTek device in the Duet. Compared to this device, the new x2 also offers a higher resolution display (2160×1440) with a 3X2 aspect ratio (a Pixelbook feature before the Go), a fingerprint reader (especially useful for devices used in multiple orientations), a second USB-C connector, and further the company’s long-standing collaboration with Bang & Olufsen for tuned speakers.
As well as including the kickstand and keyboard in the box, the device also includes a stylus that charges magnetically similar to Apple Pencil. This adds to the growing number of products supporting the Universal Stylus Initiative’s stylus standard supported by HP, Lenovo, Dell, Intel, Google and others. The x2 11 will also see the debut of a progressive web app from Google that the company plans to bring to other Chromebooks. Dubbed Cursive, it represents a note-taking experience that is a bit more like the OneNote approach than Google Keep, which relies on a sticky note-like metaphor.
HP’s other foray is a desktop PC with a 90-degree swivel screen in the long-overlooked Chromebase all-in-one category. Here, again, there is precedent from Lenovo, which introduced the Windows-based Yoga AIO 7 before CES. Sporting a tapered base compared to Lenovo’s flat base, the HP Chromebase 21.5-inch All-in-One Desktop PC offers a smaller rotating screen than Lenovo’s 27-inch offering. It also trades in the AMD Ryzen 7 processor and Lenovo’s nVidia GPU for an Intel Pentium Gold with integrated graphics.
The Yoga can also double as a USB-C monitor for external devices, although there are third-party Android apps like Duet (unrelated to the Lenovo 2-in-1) that allow Chrome OS devices to do the same if the The host is a Windows PC or Mac. On the other hand, both products support HP QuckDrop, the HP version of AirDrop-type instant sharing which, unlike the native Chrome OS proximity sharing, works on Windows.
Coincidentally, both HP products are expected to retail for $ 599. Unsurprisingly, given their specs, that means the Chromebook x2 11 will cost around double the price of the Lenovo Chromebook Duet, while the Chromebase 21.5 will cost $ 1,000 less than the price of the Yoga desktop, which does. no case has been initiated in the United States.
The x2 11 might be an attractive option for those who have been drawn to the Duet but want a more upscale offering; it might grab the attention of those looking at the Surface Go as well. While it uses a mid-level Snapdragon, it’s also a lot cheaper than most of the 2-in-1 Windows we’ve seen with Snapdragon processors. . The Chromebase might work well as a shared PC, especially for families whose students still take distance education; that’s hundreds of dollars less than HP’s cheapest Windows All-in-One. Beyond individual product perspectives, however, both send the message that Chrome OS is ready to take Windows in form factors beyond those of mainstream laptops, capitalizing on the playbook to offer less options. expensive than Windows-based competition from trusted brands to extend their appeal.
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