We’ve been talking a lot about ‘Chromebook Plus’ (formerly ‘Chromebook X’) in the past few months. While not yet rolled out, this move by Google to create a sub-brand of Chromebooks could be a real help to consumers if it all goes according to plan, and the more evidence we see of this roll-out, the more we’re convinced it is coming sooner rather than later.
A quick ‘Chromebook Plus’ timeline
For those coming to this a bit unaware, let me catch you up. At first, ‘Chromebook X’ was discovered as a new program by Google that would provide a set of Chromebooks with defined hardware features, build quality expectations, and additional software perks that standard Chromebooks wouldn’t have – at least not initially. We then found that ‘Chromebook Plus’ was actually the name of this entire effort and have been on the lookout for more clues ever since.
For now, things are still up in the air, but it feels like Google will be able to use this new ‘Chromebook Plus’ branding to improve build quality and encourage Chromebook makers to dispense with the terrible Chromebook naming conventions we currently have. For all I’d love to see from ‘Chromebook Plus’, though, the truth is we don’t know how all this is going to come together. For the time being, we’re simply waiting for some official news on Google’s end to learn how this is all slated to shake out.
But while we’re waiting, some of the latest ‘Chromebook Plus’ news showed up via the Chromium Respositories in the form of a file that outlined the first devices that will get this new branding. Some of them are brand new Chromebooks and some of them are existing devices, but of the unreleased devices, we were able to discern the model numbers of the new ASUS Chromebook CX3402 Flip, the Acer Chromebook Plus 514 and Acer Chromebook Plus 516.
There was also an HP Chromebook code named ‘Yaviks’ that was a bit confusing (we thought it was one of the unreleased devices), but I may have found the actual version of that device over at Best Buy (it seems to have appeared of late) that will get the ‘Chromebook Plus’ naming scheme. The previous ‘Yaviks’ model (a 15-inch Chromebook with a 1366×768 screen) simply doesn’t meet the ‘Chromebook Plus’ hardware requirements , but this newer HP Chromebook 15-inch model at Best Buy 100% does and could end up being an existing device that gets the ‘Chromebook Plus’ branding added on.
A new Lenovo Chromebook Plus?
So that brings us now to the Lenovo Chromebook we had pegged as an existing, re-branded device – either the Flex 5i 14-inch or 16-inch. Searching for the code name ‘Taeko’ over at cros.tech (a great resource to see all the models available, their code names, and their recovery images – all pulled from Google’s Omaha server), there’s a new entry in the list of devices that fall under that single baseboard: Lenovo IdeaPad Flex 5i Chromebook Plus.
While I’d love to see Lenovo go all-in and simply name this thing the Lenovo Chromebook Plus, I know some of these new stipulations are going to take time to get ironed out. And before you start getting super antsy about this being a completely-new Chromebook, I’d say to temper you expectations. This will likely be the existing Flex 5i Chromebook with a few cosmetic changes if I were guessing.
According to the listing shown above, ‘Tabor’ might be the code name for this device as a sub-board of ‘Taeko’, but searching the Chromium Repositories doesn’t reveal much other than the fact that ‘Tabor’ is getting a microphone mute key on the top row of the keyboard. For now, there’s nothing clearly showing that ‘Tabor’ will be much different than the existing Flex 5i Chromebook lineup.
So, if you add the upgraded HP Chromebook 15.6-inch (that we’ve yet to have hands-on with), the two Acer Chromebook Plus models, the ASUS CX3402, and now this new, revamped Lenovo Flex 5i Chromebook Plus, you have a little bit of something from all of the major Chromebook manufacturers for this latest effort from Google to clean up the consumer Chromebook space a bit.
Again, I’d caution everyone that the first steps of this new ‘Chromebook Plus’ move by Google will be small. But if the devices that are on the way are solid with great price points, this could have the new ‘Chrombook Plus’ movement started well, and the market could use it. For consumers, picking a Chromebook is only getting more and more difficult. If ‘Chromebook Plus’ can help to sort that out and get us better Chromebooks at reasonable prices, it’s going to be a win for sure. Stay tuned for more.