It already seems like its been too long since we had our hands-on time with the first pair of Project Athena certified Chromebooks at CES 2020. The Samsung Galaxy Chromebook and the ASUS Chromebook Flip C436 clearly represent the first wave of the new high-end Chromebook efforts from both companies. While we’re insanely excited about those devices being in the office in the next month or so, we’re also keeping our eyes peeled for more devices like these first two from other manufacturers.
Taking a look back at late 2018 and over the course of 2019, we saw at least one true flagship Chromebook from each major manufacturer made from the ‘Nami’ board (8th-gen Intel). These included devices like the ASUS Flip C434 (though this was an offshoot board), HP x360 14, Dell Inspiron, Lenovo Yoga C630, and Acer Spin 13. These devices were the best Chromebooks to come out in that generation and each Chromebook maker made one top device in addition to their other Chromebooks at lower prices.
We expect the same thing to happen with ‘Hatch’ (10th-gen Intel) in 2020, and the Samsung Galaxy Chromebook and ASUS Flip C436 are the first in what will likely be an extended offering of top-tier Chromebooks. We still expect to see flagship-level 10th-gen Intel devices from HP, Dell, Lenovo, and Acer before the year is out. Oh, and don’t forget Google will likely get in on this as well. That’s at least 4-5 more possible Project Athena devices headed our way alongside all the other great 10th-gen Chromebooks (like the Lenovo Flex 5 we saw at CES 2020) that will also be excellent and more affordable as well.
Today, we’re looking at the first details emerging on a new ‘Hatch’-based device called ‘Mushu’. We don’t have tons of details, but there are some clear indicators that this will be a high-end Chromebook with many of the markers of a Project Athena laptop. We don’t have specifics on the size of this device, the internal storage, or the manufacturer, but we do have quite a few other pieces of the puzzle.
First up, a single file in the Chromium Repositories gives us quite a bit of info all in one place. Notably, from this file we know ‘Mushu’ will employ an Ambient Light Sensor, biometric login support, touch screen, Wacom digitizer for pen input, and will be a convertible. That gives us a pretty clear idea of the basics, and then we have another file showing ‘Mushu’ as having 3 variants in the RAM category: 4GB, 8GB, and 16GB. Let’s face it, mid-range devices don’t get 16GB RAM options, so we’re likely looking at a device with an optional high-end spec layout that is already checking many of the required Project Athena boxes.
Finally, we have this .yaml file showing ‘Mushu’ is at least being tested with a 2400×1600 screen. That is a high-res, 3:2 setup that is the same as devices like the Pixelbook, Pixel Slate, and Acer Spin 13. Along with the above-mentioned specs, it is clear that we are looking at a flagship Chromebook on the way. What will be really interesting is the development cycle of a ‘new’ baseboard that is a variant of ‘Hatch’. ‘Hatch’ has been in development for over a year at this point, so many of the pieces needed for production are already sorted. Sure, there are unique traits to every Chromebook that have to be lined up and tweaked for production, but having a well-formed starting point should help speed things along.
With many Chromebooks taking around 9 months to get out the door, I’d be willing to bet this cycle is truncated for ‘Mushu’ and other devices that follow in its footsteps as ‘Hatch’ Chromebooks. Could we see more of a 4-6 month production cycle? It’s hard to tell right now, but it could be fall before we see this new Chromebook actually break cover. We’ll be keeping a very, very close eye on ‘Mushu’ moving forward and if you’d like to be updated for each new bit of info, be sure to sign up for our newsletter below.