It has been nearly eight months since Robby unearthed details on an upcoming Chromebook codenamed ‘Palkia‘ and in that time, we have seen the addition of dozens of new devices. Some of these new Chromebooks will feature processors from Intel that aren’t even released yet. Palkia, on the other hand, is powered by the same Intel Comet Lake chipset found in the Samsung Galaxy Chromebook, Lenovo Flex 5 and ASUS C436. That’s not to mention the Comet Lake devices that are still on the horizon. Until recently, Palkia was just another model on our list of upcoming devices and we weren’t expecting anything out of the ordinary from the Chromebook that we suspect is being designed by ASUS.
That was until 9to5Google’s Kyle Bradshaw discovered an update to the Palkia board that will make it one-of-a-kind, never before seen device inside the Chrome OS ecosystem. So, what’s so special about this Chromebook? According to the new commits, Palkia will possed not one but two touchscreens. Now, this isn’t a new feature to the world of laptops. As a matter of fact, ASUS themselves have shaken up the PC world with their own ZenBook Pro Duo that features this exact setup. The Pro Duo is a creator’s dream machine with a second touchscreen located directly above the keyboard. The palm rests are detachable and the second screen can be customized to just about any task a user can imagine.
The new commits for Palkia describe a similar setup. In addition to dual screens, the Chromebook will also include a standard touchpad and a non-Chrome OS keyboard. While the final design is unclear at this point, it is clear that this new Chromebook will feature a secondary display somewhere on the base of the device and that is exciting news for reasons we will discuss in a moment.
There are two touch screen controllers on the Palkia device. One is on the lid; another is on the base.Chromium Commit
Before we get too excited, Kyle also uncovered the fact that this Chromebook will likely never see the light of day. In the comments of one of the commits, developers refer to Palkia as POC or “Proof of Concept.” Essentially, Palkia is being designed and tested simply to figure out how to make a dual-screen laptop that works on the Chrome OS platform. This may seem like a letdown if you were hoping to get your hands on this unique Chromebook but the bigger picture here is something to get excited about, in my opinion. For years, Chrome OS lived behind the curve. Most of the hardware found in older Chromebooks was already a generation or two behind when the devices hit the market and features found on these devices trailed light-years behind Windows and macOS devices. Today, this is no longer the case.
When we were at CES earlier this year, it wasn’t Windows that lead the charge for Intel’s Project Athena initiative. It was Chrome OS. It was the Galaxy by Samsung and ASUS’ C436 Chromebooks that were on display for the world to see. Yes, the Galaxy has suffered some setbacks due to poor battery life but Chrome OS devices are the ones that are being heralded as having the latest and greatest hardware, features and functionalities. In our recent interview with Google’s John Maletis, he mentioned the fact that Chrome OS had been catapulted forward due to recent shifts in consumer focus that resulted from the work from home movement caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Chrome OS is no longer the operating system for grade-schoolers. Instead, Chromebooks are being used by executives, salesforces, developers, bloggers and the average consumers in a volume that is practically unheard of in an environment where PC sales had been experiencing major slumps.
My point? Palkia may be a developmental device but the fact that Chromium OS developers are seeking out new ways to present the operating system and experimenting with some of the latest and greatest features available in tech speaks volumes to the operating system’s growth. In just a few short years, Chrome OS has been catapulted into the consumer and enterprise spaces and development of new devices will soon parallel that of Windows and macOS. Gone are the days of Chrome OS being a second class citizen. Instead, I believe that we will soon walk into a Best Buy and see Chromebooks standing right beside other PCs with parity between hardware and features. We now have Android and Linux apps on Chrome OS and soon companies will be able to bring legacy Windows applications to the party with Parallels. The deciding factor will then no longer be “what can a Chromebook do?” but which OS the buyer prefers. It’s an exciting time to be in the Chrome OS boat and we’re looking forward to the next evolution. Stick around to see what’s next.