While the new announcement of Chromebook Plus and all the hardware and software features coming along with it are wildly exciting, there is an interesting dynamic that is yet to fully play out. Existing Chromebooks that meet all the Chromebook Plus specifications are to be included in this new wave of devices, meaning they will get the same access to the same cool, new features that brand new Chromebook Plus devices will get. But the two questions that linger for most when hearing this are which Chromebooks are included? and when can I expect to get my Chromebook Plus upgrade?
Thankfully, Google has made this part quite clear. While most of the hardware spec requirements are equally straightforward – 1080p screens, 1080p webcams, 8GB of RAM, 128GB of storage, etc. – the processor part of the equation isn’t exactly so clear. Take the new Lenovo Slim 3i Chromebook Plus as an example. That device – like the standard Slim 3i I’m typing on right now – has the newer 12th-gen Alder Lake Core i3-N305 processor inside. I love it and am pretty elated with this Chromebook, but the Chromebook Plus spec simply says it needs to be a device with this processor or better.
So what is better? You could make the argument that an 11th-gen Core i5 is definitely a faster processor. Maybe it isn’t as kind to the battery, but how are we defining better in this particular situation? As I said, this part of the Chromebook Plus equation simply isn’t clear and I don’t think there was any way Google could have made it so. At the end of the day, they had to make some judgement calls based on performance and user experience, and in spite of the muddiness of one processor versus another, they’ve put together a list of existing Chromebooks that make the cut to just make things simpler for everyone.
- Acer Chromebook Spin 514 (CP514-3H, CP514-3HH, CP514-3WH)
- Acer Chromebook Spin 714 (CP714-1WN)
- Acer Chromebook Spin 714 (CP714-2W, CP714-2WN)
- Acer Chromebook 516 GE (CBG516-1H)
- Acer Chromebook Vero 514 (CBV514-1H, CBV514-1HT)
- ASUS Chromebook CM34 Flip (CM3401)
- ASUS Chromebook Flip CX5 (CX5601)
- HP Chromebook 15.6 15a-nb0xxx (xxx: 001~999)
- HP Chromebook x360 14 inch (14c-cd0xxx) (xxx: 001~999)
- HP Dragonfly Pro Chromebook
- HP Elite Dragonfly Chromebook
- HP Elite c640 14 inch G3 Chromebook
- HP Elite c645 G2 Chromebook
- Lenovo Flex 5i Chromebook 14” (IP Flex 5 Chrome 14IAU7)
- IdeaPad Flex 5i Chromebook (14″, 7) (IP Flex 5 Chrome 14IAU7)
- IdeaPad Gaming Chromebook 16″
- Lenovo Slim 3i Chromebook 14″
- IdeaPad Slim 3i Chromebook (14″, 8)
- Lenovo ThinkPad C14 Chromebook
- Lenovo 5i Chromebook 16″
- IdeaPad 5i Chromebook (16″, 7)
- Lenovo 14e Chromebook Gen 3
- Dell Latitude 5430 Chromebook
- Dell Latitude 5430 2-in-1 Chromebook
- Framework Laptop Chromebook Edition
So, there it is in black and white. If your device isn’t on that list, don’t expect any new Chromebook Plus features to be arriving on your device. And there’s no indication that this is a sliding scale, either, so I don’t think there’s any reason to think this list will change. There was no “good time” to make this move, so the tough part of all of this is the fact that some of these fun, new ChromeOS features simply won’t make it to devices not on this list. That’s just the reality.
But when you peruse this list, I’d imagine just like me, you might not even be clear whether or not your Chromebook is on that list. After all, which device is the Lenovo IdeaPad 5i Chromebook (16″, 7)? What exact device is the Acer Chromebook Spin 514 (CP514-3H, CP514-3HH, CP514-3WH)? Without a bit of digging and searching, I wasn’t even able to tell which was which, and that really highlights why Google is doing all of this in the first place. Chromebook models, availability, and naming are all a bit out of control, and something needed to be done to regain some focus in the consumer market. But I digress.
When you can expect your Chromebook Plus upgrade
For those on the list, Google has also clearly stated that the global ChromeOS roll out to bring enhanced Chromebook Plus features to these devices will begin on October 17th, 2023. That means in just two short weeks, all the new Chromebook Plus goodies will begin to arrive and users will immediatley begin to see some of the upsides to having one of these specialized devices.
And that also means the first real fragmentation of ChromeOS will also begin on that day. While no features will be taken away from the owners of non-Plus Chromebooks, October 17th will mark the day where we have to start talking about new features in terms of “Plus” and “Non-Plus”, and that is going to be interesting for a bit.
But don’t misunderstand me: I think this is the right move from Google. If you want more cohesion, better software, and the ability to roll out more advanced features, you have to set firmer hardware standards. Chromebook Plus is that path, and we’re beginning that journey starting next week. It’s going to be a fun ride, I think, and I can’t wait to see the new stuff on tap for Chromebook Plus over the next weeks and months as we watch all of this develop.