The Chromebase isn’t a segment we talk too much about around here. Up to this point, there have only been a few of them to ever actually hit the market and my money is on the fact that you have likely never heard of any of them. The first I had the pleasure of using was LG’s unlikely 22-inch all-in-one that was one of the first Chrome OS devices I ever made a video about. After it, there have been two by Acer (one we reviewed and a newer one we’ve never been able to get our hands on) and a small, kiosk-only Chromebase made by AOpen that never saw a consumer release.
Despite the growth of Chromebooks and the continued interest in Chromeboxes, the Chromebase has never had a breakthrough unit and, like the Chromebit, feels a bit like it may be on its last leg. Regardless, it looks like development is underway on yet another, new Chromebase that could bring some nice tricks to the all-in-one Chrome OS formula.
‘Dooly’ began development in September as an offshoot of ‘Puff’ (current 10th-gen Intel Chromebox board) and though I added this board to the big list of all the devices we’re keeping an eye on, I thought it was simply another Chromebox at the time. Turns out, that isn’t the case. As can be seen in the following commits, support for a built-in screen, touch input and ALS (ambient light sensor) have all been added. This is clearly more than just a box and will end up as the next – and maybe only – 10th-gen Intel-based Chromebase.
dooly: add sensor support This CL add g-sesnor:bma253, ALS sensor: TCS3400 for doolyvia the Chromium Repositories
Dooly: Update VBT for internal display
Dooly has internal display, use VBT from hatch as baseline.via the Chromium Repositories
puff: Enable touchview.
EST=/dev/cros-ec-accel/1 exists on doolyvia the Chromium Repositories
Add WEIDA touchscreen device
Adds ACPI properties for WDT8762A device.
Per spec v0.8 HID name WDHT2002 T14=100msvia the Chromium Repositories
OK, so we know ‘Dooly’ is more than just a processor and board in a box, but there’s more to the story. Chromebases have all been generally straightforward devices up to this point. Screen, touch, board, inputs and power with no additional frills or features. After all, an all-in-one simply needs to show up, stay out of the way, and get the job done.
‘Dooly’ has a different trick up its sleeve, however, that could lend this to being a bit more of a standout than it seems on the surface. In addition to the standard commits we’ve already found, there are also a few more that cause us to believe this Chromebase could also have some rotating capabilities, too. Take a look at this one:
Support auto-rotation for Dooly
Add a “force-in-tablet-physical-state” switch to force tablet physical state so that auto rotation is on regardless of the actual physical state.via the Chromium Repositories
Now, why would an all-in-one, desk-bound Chrome OS device need to have auto-rotation turned on? A couple reasons spring to mind. First, this device could simply have a rotating stand that allows users to turn the screen into portrait mode for certain use cases. I’ve leveraged this setup before when I was doing more web development work with my IDE on my second screen arranged in portrait mode. I could get more code on the screen at once, so it was handy.
The other clear use case is for kiosk mode. There’s a chance this device could get deployed as a great all-in-one for kiosks. Many times, a vertical layout is preferred and a Chromebase that can quickly adapt could be compelling for that. I’m more inclined to think this will simply be a feature for more standard end users, however, as a stationary kiosk could simply rotate the screen once in settings once and leave it be. There’s no real benefit to auto-rotate in those situations.
Either way, I’m excited to see a new Chromebase on the way soon and if all these features come along for the ride, we might finally be getting a Chromebase that is built with some fresh features and geared towards getting both commercial users and general consumers interested in it. While it could end up as just another kiosk or meeting room-bound device, I’m hopeful at this point that we see this Chromebase break through as a device general users consider interesting and worth purchasing. Time will tell, and as always, we’ll keep digging for more details.