The past few weeks have seen a firestorm of rumors, leaks and releases of all types of Chromebooks.
From the accidental confirmation of the Samsung Chromebook Pro to photos from an FCC filing of the newest Asus convertible (which most certainly should be ‘Cave), and even the Acer Chromebook R 13 finally making its way into the wild; Chromebooks are everywhere.
There’s even the strong possibility that a Lenovo Yoga Book is in the works. At least that’s what we’re hoping.
But, as a number of readers have asked:
Where Is Dell In All This?
With an optional Core i3 or i5 processors, up to 8GB of RAM, a glass track pad and a polished, yet utilitarian build, it was one of the best Chromebooks of its time. You could even opt for a touchscreen if you felt so inclined.
But that was over a year ago. And that really got my wheels turning.
The Dell Chromebook 13 targeted the business and IT sector. Yet, it was sought after by consumers wanting a well-built device with all the fixin’s, minus the Pixel price tag. And even though Google has deemed it an “enterprise” device, many have gotten their hands on one and are still happy with it to this day.
Where is the new Dell Chromebook?
I decided to start doing some homework. I looked back at the Chromium commits surrounding the Dell 13 in hopes to find something that might tie it to a current device under development.
With all the third party manufacturers, it’s difficult to know who the namesake of a new Chromebook will be. Occasionally we find clues when an OEM’s email is attached to a commit. Even then it’s rarely a smoking gun. Chromium OS is open-source. Practically anyone can contribute to the code reviews.
We look at emails, common denominators and past devices to try and find common threads to link a device with a brand.
In the case of the Samsung Chromebook Pro (a.k.a. ‘Kevin’), we began to see a consistent string of commit authors with Samsung email addresses. Initially, we were cautious as most of the commits were directly related to audio. Samsung produces audio and LED hardware for just about everyone.
As time passed, we continued to see Samsung’s involvement with the Chromebook Pro on multiple levels. This gave us a good indication that it was indeed a new Samsung device.
With Dell, the task was much more difficult than most.
Dell, like many OEMs, rely on third party manufacturers to produce many of their devices and hardware components. Companies like AMI, Quanta and Haier to name just a few. These ODMs take design cues from the OEM and produce a product according to a given set of specs. Then, the OEM slaps their name on it and to the shelves it goes.
Chances are one of the “name brand” devices in your home was manufactured by one of these third-party companies.
This makes the task of nailing down the owner of a device doubly challenging. At any given time one of the ODMs may be actively working on multiple devices for multiple brands.
So, I started to dig.
Throughout the repositories we come across email addresses from almost every company with ties to Chromebooks. There are a few exceptions. Two of the most notable?
HP and Dell.
HP has been rather silent in the wake of all the new devices and the advent of Android Apps coming to Chromebooks. But, they also released a Google-collaborated, high-end device just this year that offers configurations for just about every user.
Dell, however, has offered up nothing that we know of. Surely they’re working on something. Right?
I think they are.
As I looked back at the previous Dell devices, I found two consistently present companies attached to the commits.
One of these email addresses belonged to the company Sage Engineering, a bios engineering firm that unfortunately is no longer in business.
The other: Wistron.
Wistron, like the previously mentioned ODMs, produces laptops for big name companies like Acer, HP, Lenovo and yes, you guessed it, Dell.
Now, having a Wistron email attached to a new device doesn’t mean it’s a Dell Chromebook. However, we found a specific name in common with the Dell 13 and a new device under development. This common email address is exclusive to these two devices.
The new device is a Skylake-based Chromebook we reported on last month codenamed ‘Asuka’.
The links below show the common denominator between the Dell 13 and ‘Asuka’. FYI, the codename for the Dell 13 is ‘Lulu’ as seen in the first link.
One More Fun Fact
‘Asuka’ and ‘Lulu’ are both characters in Neon Genesis: Evangelion. A quick search of those names together brings up a slew of references to them in the Anime show.
Thus far, we know ‘Asuka’ is being tested with an Elan touchscreen and is more than likely a convertible like many of the new Chromebooks headed to the market.
When we discovered this device it was already fairly far along in the development process. In the second week of September, ‘Asuka’ was already entering the second of three stages of testing.
This means we could realistically see this Chromebook announced and on shelves before the holiday season.
I’ve made my case. I will be the first to admit, this is moderately speculative. But, there is very good evidence pointing to ‘Asuka’ being the next Dell Chromebook.
Dell’s Chromebook 13 landed in a niché market. But, as far as Chromebooks go, it was a home run. I don’t feel they need to market the next “new thing” for Chrome OS. A Skylake convertible with the build quality of the Chromebook 13 would be a solid and relatively safe bet for them at this point.
We will continue to update you on ‘Asuka’ and all of the other new devices coming to the world of Chrome OS.