Right up front, I want to make it clear that this is a bit of conjecture on our part. There are some facts here that make a compelling story, but there are also some hopes mixed with some guesses that get us across the finish line when talking about Dell’s upcoming Chromebook lineup. What we know for sure is Dell is working on at least 3 different devices with at least 5 different form factors. There’s a possibility that there are 6 in total with the three development boards each having a clamshell and convertible variant.
Let’s get the boards out of the way. We’re tracking ‘Drallion’, ‘Deltaur’ and ‘Deltan’ as the current boards being developed by Dell. We know these are all being built by Dell because ‘Drallion’ is cloned from ‘Sarien’ – A.K.A Dell’s last-gen enterprise Chromebook – and ‘Deltaur’ and ‘Deltan’ are being cloned from ‘Drallion.’ Oh, and on the models.yaml file in the Chromium Repositories, ‘Drallion’ and ‘Deltaur’ are put together, side-by-side when being added. This only happens with similar devices from the same manufacturer. Finally, ‘Deltan’ is a direct clone of ‘Deltaur’, so it is clear with 100% certianty these are all being made by Dell.
Ugh! I know that was a bit exhausting, but if that was at all confusing, you just need to trust me that these three baseboards and whatever devices they end up spawning will be made by Dell. That’s all you really need to know at this point. The other thing you need for this little leap of faith we’re about to take is the knowledge that ‘Drallion’ is a ‘Hatch’ variant (like the Lenovo Flex 5, Samsung Galaxy Chromebook, and ASUS Flip C436), so you can expect an earlier arrival and 10th-gen Comet Lake processors, Wi-Fi 6 and Bluetooth 5. Also, as we know ‘Drallion’ comes with the custom function keys up top and the same privacy shade that the upcoming HP Elite C1030 employs, so fully expect this device to be an enterprise-focused Chromebook and expect it pretty soon.
The other two devices, on the other hand, don’t use this privacy shade key and are based on the newer Tiger Lake 10nm chipset. We’ve not had a Chromebook launch with that SoC just yet, and I wouldn’t expect to see them until early 2021, but the fact that Dell has chosen to leave this privacy feature off of ‘Deltaur’ and ‘Deltan’ could be indicative of the fact that these Chromebooks may not end up as enterprise devices. In fact, unless they add this out of the blue, I’d presume ‘Deltaur’ and ‘Deltan’ will end up as consumer models from Dell.
So, we have the boards, the generations of the processors, the fact that these are made by Dell, and the knowledge that the two newer baseboards are far more likely to end up as consumer-focused Chromebooks. Let’s leave ‘Drallion’ out of the rest of this conversation, then, as it will likely be an expensive enterprise device that regular consumers won’t be too interested in. With ‘Deltaur’ and ‘Deltan’, we’re seeing SKUs for 180-degree and 360-degree versions and with them basically being clones, no real reason for them both to exist outside of them being different lines of devices.
The last generation of Dell’s Chromebooks brought Chromebooks into the Inspiron family. The Inspiron Chromebook looked, felt, and behaved like it’s Windows brethren, and the Inspiron name on the device was a big deal at the time. Just like Samsung adding the Galaxy name to its latest Chromebook, Dell lending the Inspiron name to a Chromebook instantly made it feel like Dell was beginning to bring Chromebooks into the fold instead of keeping them on the sidelines.
I could 100% see them refreshing the Inspiron Chromebook with a clamshell and convertible for sure. Their first one was pretty fantastic and with a few tweaks, it could have been one of the best. But that doesn’t answer the question of why there is a cloned baseboard in ‘Deltan’. If either of these baseboards are going to be the new Inspiron Chromebook, what is left for the other? Dell’s Latitude line is already represented in their enterprise offerings, and it is clear that their existing devices and whatever ‘Drallion’ ends up being have that covered. That only leaves one other main line for Dell: XPS.
If you aren’t familiar, the XPS line is Dell’s highest-end consumer line and it is where their best design work is done. These laptops in their various sizes and configurations are widely regarded as some of the best Windows laptops you can buy. Oh, and you know what else? The XPS line comes in clamshell and convertible varieties just like we’re seeing in development with ‘Deltaur’ and ‘Drallion’. And with Tiger Lake Chromebooks, the sky is the limit as far as premium internals and options, so Dell could easily trick out one of these devices and slap the XPS label on it and carry over all the finer things their premium laptops are known for.
It’s a crazy thought, sure, but the more I’ve considered this, the more I’m convinced this is likely happening. As I said above, an XPS Chromebook won’t be here soon: it will probably be next year. But the fact that there’s finally a good chance that Dell could bring their flagship line of devices to the Chrome OS side is extremely exciting to say the least. With their carbon fiber bodies, 4K screens, fantastic keyboards and razor-thin bezels, I know I’m excited to see what Dell might build if and when the first Dell XPS Chromebook becomes a reality.