With all the Chromebooks that have released in the past year or so and all the possibilities of yet-unreleased devices still looming large, it’s easy to just be generally enthusiastic about what the next best Chromebook could be. There are tons of upcoming devices from all sorts of manufacturers with all sorts of processor options on the horizon, but the devices with Intel’s latest processors still hold my attention the most when it comes to looking for a work-related Chromebook for myself.
I love messing with tablets, Chromeboxes and even cool, spinning Chromebases, but at the end of the day, the device I’m going to place on my desk and type on for the most part will still likely have an Intel processor inside. These Chromebooks tend to have the best performance, best build quality, and best features sets of all available Chromebooks. With MediaTek’s move into the higher-end Chromebook space, that may not be true for much longer, but the fact is, if you want a premium Chromebook right now, you need to get on board with Intel.
Intel’s best processors yet
It’s in that vein that I’m getting pretty hyped for Intel’s new 12th-gen Alder Lake-powered Chromebooks. More and more manufacturers are adding ‘Brya’-based development boards (the base development board for Alder Lake) and I’m convinced we’ll see a few of these devices make an appearance at CES in January. Honestly, I don’t see Alder Lake being a massive change in the Chromebook space like Comet Lake was with the introduction of Wi-Fi 6/Bluetooth 5 or like Tiger Lake has been with the arrival of a legit, integrated GPU in Intel’s Xe graphics. But I do think Alder Lake will bring a substantial bump in performance over Tiger Lake, that those Chromebooks are already blindingly fast.
One of the Alder Lake boards we’ve been tracking is ‘Redrix’, and it will likely be the follow up to the very awesome HP Chromebook Elite c1030. I’m typing this post on the Elite c1030 and this Chromebook has just about everything you could want in a premium Chromebook. Build materials, screen, keyboard, trackpad, port selection, thinness, and lightness are all top-notch and make using this particular Chromebook one of the best Chrome OS experiences ever.
Obviously I’m excited for a successor with small refinements and an upgrade from the current 10th-gen Comet Lake processors to the new, speedy 12th-gen Alder Lake chips. We already covered a unique key that ‘Redrix’ is getting that will enable microphone muting with one touch, but there are some other fun additions on the way for this Chromebook that will help take it from great to amazing.
First up, it looks like HP is including the privacy screen again. For those unaware, a digital privacy screen can be triggered by the user to basically hide content on the screen for viewers off angle. This protects you against prying eyes on a bus or airplane. The first time around, there were issues with production and we never saw the 1000-nit privacy screen actually come to market. As it turns out, there are finally versions of the current Elite c1030 with the privacy screen on board available for purchase, but I’d wager that means they simply got things worked out for ‘Redrix’ and can finally include them on the Elite c1030 now.
Second, it we’re seeing HP step up the webcam on this Chromebook by skipping the statndard 720p sensor and jumping right up to 5MP this time. We’re seeing more and more Chromebook manufacturers deciding to up the front-facing camera on their devices, and this is a trend I hope continues. We all know it by now, but video calls are simply a part of life at this point. Having a better camera for them is all the more reason to opt for one Chromebook over another if the webcam is simply better.
Finally, we’re seeing HP prep a version of ‘Redrix’ that will equip an option for LTE. While this isn’t new in the Chromebook space, for a device that will clearly be targeting professionals, LTE feels like an option that should become an obvious inclusion. We’re excited by the prospect of 5G Chromebooks in the future, but for now, LTE is plenty fast, less battery hungry, and far more established as a connection technology. It makes a lot of sense for a thin/light Chromebook like ‘Redrix’ to include this option.
For now, that’s all we know. ‘Redrix’ looks to be a new take on the Elite c1030 with the addition of a microphone mute switch, a privacy screen option, an improved webcam, and LTE variations. If they simply keep the winning formula for the existing Elite c1030, add these tweaks, and give us some 12th-gen Alder Lake options, HP will have a great device on its hands. Expensive? Probably, but you don’t get all these goodies for nothing.