IFA Berlin has yet to officially kick off but much like last year, the heavy-hitters have already begun holding press conferences and showing off the latest and greatest for the tech world to behold.
The annual trade show is the premier electronics event in Europe with the main focus being that of consumer electronics and home appliances. Manufacturers like Samsung, ASUS, LG and Sony show up big to debut their latest products and emerging technologies.
This year’s show has its fair share of emphasis on smart-home and assistant-supported devices and we’ll be covering those products as they pertain to Chromecast and the Google Home as they are announced.
Much of the computing hoopla around IFA is geared towards Windows devices especially those designed for gaming. There has been significant focus on a number of upcoming stand alone VR/MR headsets as well from the likes of ASUS, Samsung and even Dell.
But, what about Chromebooks?
To be honest, this time last year I barely knew what happened at IFA Berlin let alone what type of product announcements we would see. Robby manned up and took one for the team as he woke up in the wee hours of the night to watch Acer’s live press conference only to be mildly jilted when there was no mention of the Chromebook R13.
Historically, at IFA or any other trade show, there isn’t much fanfare surrounding Chrome OS devices. The Acer Chromebook R13 made its way to the trade show floor with no announcement and was quietly added to the NEXT@ACER website without so much as a peep from the maker.
No worries. We aren’t naive. We are well aware that Chromebooks aren’t bringing in the billions for companies like say the Acer Predator lineup or the ASUS RoG series.
That being said, we weren’t sure if we would see anything Chrome OS related come about at IFA. Acer had totally different plans though. Repeating last year’s move, Acer released another unique device in Berlin and though it wasn’t shared from the stage, the new was in press releases immediately following.
We all woke this morning to the latest addition to the Acer Chromebook 15 roster and man did they step it up this time. You can read more about the aluminum-body beauty here.
So, will we see more Chromebooks unveiled in Berlin this week? I would sure like to think so. I know one thing. CES Las Vegas at the beginning of 2017 changed the landscape for Chrome OS permanently. Sitting in Samsung’s press conference trying our best to not get our hopes up about a main-stage Chromebook Pro announcement was almost nerve racking.
Then, just as we began to lose hope, this happened.
Yeah, you remember that don’t you? Samsung, the second largest tech company in the world, announced not one, but two Chromebooks at a highly produced, center stage press conference.
That’s a really big deal.
This literally and metaphorically set the stage for every other OEM to get behind Chrome OS and spotlight their products in preparation for the consumer push that will soon ensue and Chromebooks become more popular with the general public.
Now, with that being said, there’s also the little rumor of an upcoming Google Pixel being announced very soon. That sort of gums up the works for OEM’s hoping to make a big splash at trade shows with a new, never-before-seen Chromebook.
The Acer Chromebook R13 was a perfect example. Released this time last year as the first Chromebook built with Android Apps in mind, it quickly fell under the shadow of the ASUS Chromebook C302 and Samsung Pro/Plus. Combined with the major delay of the Play Store, the R13’s popularity was crippled and never really seemed to have recovered which is a shame because it’s a really good device.
The newly announced Chromebook 15 from Acer has a distinct advantage due to its clamshell form-factor, uniquely large display and the fact that Acer’s 15.6″ lineup has thrived in its many refreshes and updates. I believe it will exempt itself from the woes of bigger, better syndrome based simply on the fact that no one else is playing around in that ballpark.
Other manufacturers, like ASUS for example, have placed major weight on Windows devices and VR/MR this year. As much as I’d like to see a new consumer device from them this week, I’m not holding my breath.
Samsung is likely out of the running because, well, the Chromebook Pro. It’s not perfect but it’s pretty darn close and they really don’t need to release another device this year.
That leaves us primarily with Lenovo, HP and Dell. While all three are decent players in the Chrome OS arena, none of them have put out any formidable consumer devices recently. Education models from the OEMs have started lining shelves but they’re all long overdue for a high-end Chromebook like the previous Intel Core model made popular with enterprises in the past couple of years.
We have yet to see a Kaby Lake Chromebook and rumor has it that Dell has had one in the works for quite some time. I have yet to hear any news from Berlin that Dell has something up their sleeve but an 8th gen Intel Chromebook would be the perfect device to steal the show at IFA.
Lenovo has been pushing out 11.6″ convertibles by the truck load but the utilitarian ThinkPad 13 is due for some upgrades and I think they would do well to get one out in the open sooner than later.
HP, I don’t know what to tell you about HP. I’m not even sure they’re in Berlin which is a crying shame. If any OEM has it in the wheelhouse to make a ground-breaking, state of the art device, it’s Hewlett Packard. I mean seriously, a Chrome OS version of the Spectre x2? Come on!
The convertible market is expanding exponentially which has left a major hole for traditional laptops that will need to be filled as Google expands their Chrome for Enterprise market. In my opinion, makers like Dell, HP and Lenovo are in a prime position to take advantage of this niche within a niche without suffering any loss at the hands of flashy, new devices that target the mass populous.
Will we see more Chromebooks from Berlin this week? I sure hope so. We will be keeping tabs on all the news from IFA as it happens. Make sure you check back to see what’s new.