Very early on in 2020, we reported on a Chromebook in development – codenamed ‘Drallion’ – that will be sporting a very unique feature that no other Chromebook before it has ever had: a hardware privacy screen. These screens are built to give users the ability to create a physical, visual shield that halts others from seeing the screen from any angle other than straight-on when needed.
Imagine being in a conference, bus or airplane sat next to strangers on either side (these days its harder than ever to visualize that reality) and having sensitive info on your screen. Our eyes have a tendency to drift and pry, so having a screen that hides this info from onlookers would come in very handy for those who need it. The tech has been around since HP pioneered the idea in the form of their Sure View integrated privacy screens and we’ve known it was being worked on for an upcoming Chromebook named ‘Drallion’ since back in January of 2020.
It appears that the uniquely-qualified, upcoming Chromebook ‘Jinlon’ is also in line to get this technology. Remember, ‘Jinlon’ is special due to the fact that it is being crafted with an extra fan on board, leading us to believe that it may end up being a device that leverages a dGPU as well. Right now, the only Chromebook we’re tracking with that superlative is ‘Mushu’, but things tend to change quite quickly in this space. It appears ‘Jinlon’ will not only have an extra fan with the possibility of discrete graphics, but also the same built-in privacy screen as ‘Drallion’ too. Take a look at this commit message and then we’ll explain a bit:
Hatch: Map Jinlon’s F8 key to privacy-screen
Vivaldi stack implementation will take time. But we need to provide an image to OEM next week for their demo. This only enables privacy-screen key that is the highlight of their demo. This can be reverted later when chrome implementation of vivaldi is ready.
Clearly, in this commit, ‘Jinlon’ is getting a hardware key mapped to the privacy screen. A few details are of interest, here. First, this commit was from February 28 and speaks clearly of a demo unit needing to be ready. This tidbit informs us on who this Chromebook is likely made by, but we can’t say just yet. We were set to attend a press event in New York last week before the pandemic kicked in, and the presser has since been called off for the time being. Obviously, when we have info we can share, we will do so.
Second, there is reference to Vivaldi, which we reported on early today. Vivaldi is a new firmware change for Chrome OS that will allow for manufacturers to customize the top row of the Chrome OS keyboard as needed for different hardware changes. A built-in hardware screen isn’t exactly something that will be widely available on most Chromebooks, so a simple way for the Chromebook makers to add this hardware key makes a lot of sense for this use case and any others that come up in the future.
Obviously, these Chromebooks with these features will be aimed at enterprise users for sure. It is unknown at this point if these privacy screens will simply be an option or if they will be built in to each device made from the ‘Jinlon’ and ‘Drallion’ boards. If there are no variants without the privacy screen, be prepared for these new Chromebooks to completely be aimed at the Chromebook Enterprise sector. While that doesn’t mean they won’t be available for consumer purchase, it could mean we need to expect some pretty egregious pricing if the Dell Latitude Chromebook Enterprise devices are any indication. As always, we’ll keep you updated as we learn more.