One of the most surprising and most delightful Chromebooks of the entire year in 2021 may finally be ready for a sequel. Funny enough, I had a draft in the works ready to beg ASUS to follow up the supremely enjoyable Flip CX5400 with a proper sequel, and there’s a good chance I don’t have to grovel now. If a new Chromebook in development is what I think it is, we may be looking at the proper offspring of one my all-time favorite Chromebooks in ‘Marasov’.
What we know so far about ‘Marasov’
First up, let’s clarify why we know this device is from ASUS. In the commit pictured above, you can see the email address for Frank Chu attached. There are only a few commits so far for this new device, and Frank is the owner on every one of them. You may know other devices Frank was deeply involved in, namely the ASUS Chromebook Flip CX5400 and a couple other low-cost ASUS Chromebooks released under the CX1 naming structure. There’s no doubt, here: this device is going to be an ASUS-made Chromebook.
But the early files give us some other clarity, too. For instance, we know that this new Chromebook will show up as a convertible, not a clamshell. Thanks to the board.h file in the original EC image commit, we can see there is a reference to the lid accelerometer and lid angle sensors, telling us clearly that this device will be of the ‘Flip’ variety from ASUS.
Additionally, we also already know that this Chromebook will come with high-end specs like USB 4, Thunderbolt, a backlit keyboard, and NVMe storage options. As the original Flip CX5400 had all of the high-end options you want and expect in a Chromebook, I’d fully expect the follow-up to do the same as well.
The missing links
Assuming this is a full-blown sequel to the original Chromebook Flip CX5400, there are a couple pieces of the puzzle still not quite in place. It’s early on in this Chromebook’s life, but I’m not seeing mention of a stowed USI pen available for ‘Marasov’. There could be a few reasons for that, but I’m hoping we end up finding evidence of an included pen at some point down the road. There’s a chance it never shows up, however, if ASUS decides to ditch the internally-stowed pen this time around.
There’s still hope on that front and perhaps the initial commits for the pen addition simply haven’t been put in place just yet. Either way, ‘Marasov’ could still be the Flip CX5400 sequel I’ve been waiting for with or without an included stylus. But there’s one other change this time around that does have me questioning things a bit: the addition of fans.
Don’t get me wrong, there are thin, light, gorgeous Chromebooks currently available with fans included. Look at the HP Dragonfly or Acer Chromebook Spin 714 as examples; thin, modern Chromebooks can have fans and still be svelte on the exterior. While the inclusion of fans doesn’t exclude ‘Marasov’ from being the Flip CX5400 sequel, it does make me wonder a bit.
The original Flip CX5400 was one of the few 11th-gen Intel-powered Chromebooks that shipped without fans. Though 12th-gen Intel devices are capable of this, we’ve yet to see a fanless Chromebook with Alder Lake processors inside. The fanless body made the original Flip CX5400 stand out, so the inclusion of fans this time around wouldn’t be a deal-breaker, but it would be a bit of a bummer if ‘Marasov’ does end up being the sequel I’m hoping it is.
What was so special about the Flip CX5400 anyway?
That’s all we know so far about this new Chromebook, but I feel like I owe you an explanation about why I’m so excited for a follow-up to this particular convertible. I suppose it simply comes down to the combo of aesthetic appeal, power, and build quality all in one device. The ASUS Chromebook Flip CX5400 came out of nowhere and was so solid at all the things you want in a Chromebook. It all combined for this superb experience that is tough to communicate.
The screen was solid (FHD at 300+ nits), the build quality was on-point, the keyboard was comfy, the trackpad was smooth, the performance was fast and the included USI pen was a fantastic addtion. When you put it all together, that 14-inch Chromebook was good at so many things that I made it my everyday carry for quite some time, mainly because I just enjoyed using it so much.
We did finally have to send it back and for reasons I’ve outlined many times in the past, I don’t tend to buy a personal Chromebook these days due to the fact that I’m always testing the next, new device. But if I did need to go purchase a new device for myself, my eyes would absolutely be on the Flip CX5400, especially if it goes on sale here or there. And with a Chromebook this good, a sequel is always an exciting prospect. Trust me, I’ll be keeping very, very close tabs on ‘Marasov’ moving forward and will report back with anything new I find.