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Apollo Lake Chromebook ‘Bruce’ Surfaces


Black Friday has passed and Cyber Monday is just a fleeting memory only to return when the credit card statements arrive next month. Thankfully, Chromebook development marches on and we can get back to the business of sharing all that is shiny and new in the world of Chrome OS.

With that being said, today we bring you a new Apollo Lake device that we dug up from the Chromium repository.

‘Bruce’

In keeping with the shark theme, the newest Apollo Lake Chromebook in development is named ‘Bruce’. This name has been synonymous with the splendid savage of the sea since the mid 70’s when the Great White antagonist from the movie ‘Jaws’ was dubbed Bruce after Steven Spielberg’s lawyer, Bruce Raynor.

In recent years, younger generations may be more familiar with the leader of the “Fish-friendly sharks” support group from Finding Nemo. “Fish are friends, not food.” If you didn’t mentally say that with an Australian accent, you’re taking life too seriously.

This ‘Bruce’, like the previous Apollo Lake Chromebooks, gets its name from the popular Hungry Shark game franchise. The fifth installment of the game, Hungry Shark Evolution, lends names to a number of Chrome devices already on the market.

You get the picture.

The baseboards for these devices, reef and coral are also named after characters from the game. ‘Bruce’ is the name of the ‘Reef’ shark after its evolution has taken place.  Now that the lesson is over, here’s what we know about our new friend ‘Bruce’.

Apart from being an Apollo Lake-based Chromebook, the only solid information thus far is that ‘Bruce’ will be a convertible, has a backlit keyboard and built on the ‘Coral’ baseboard. Upon first discovering the device, I was immediately underwhelmed as we haven’t seen a lot to be impressed with from Braswell’s successor.

Then, it hit me.

Acer’s latest iteration of the Chromebook 15 is labeled as an Apollo Lake device and built on the ‘Reef’ Platform. The model we have floating around the office is powered by a Pentium-branded chip and it performs very well as a daily driver with power to spare for the average user.

That doesn’t necessarily mean that ‘Bruce’ won’t be equipped with the lesser N3350 or N3450 processors. However, with a backlit keyboard and convertible form-factor, should the new device run on the Pentium chip it would be the first of its kind in this generation of Chromebooks. It would also be a formidable opponent for devices like the Samsung Chromebook Plus and the Acer Chromebook R13.

Thinking on this led me to another discovery. I noticed something familiar about the name attached to the initial commit for ‘Bruce’. His email address contains the company name Quanta. For those of you not familiar, Quanta is one of the largest ODM notebook companies in the world.

Based in Tawain, Quanta takes cues from OEM companies like Apple, HP, Dell and even Amazon to create hardware that will be branded with OEM’s namesake.  As a matter of fact, Google’s Pixelbook was even manufactured by them according to FCC filings I stumbled upon.

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Another company that uses Quanta almost exclusively for Chrome devices is Acer Inc. As I picked through commits containing the aforementioned email address, I found a common thread that may have identified Acer as the new Chromebook ‘Bruce’.

This particular developer is only attached to devices that have been produced by Acer. Specifically, the Acer 15, Spin 11, the Acer Chromebook 14 for Work and even the Acer R13. Now, there is the off chance he has expanded into other OEM development inside of Quanta, but if I were a betting man, I’d put my chips on ‘Bruce’ being the next device from Acer.

The only real question is “what exactly will this device pan out to be?” Acer has a new Apollo Lake EDU device in the Spin 11. We’re really hoping for a refreshed Acer Chromebook 14 but a 14″ convertible device seems unlikely.

That leaves two plausible scenarios.

The Acer Chromebook R11 is probably one of the most popular consumer models around but let’s be honest, it’s getting up there in years. The time for a refresh is certainly upon us. Alternatively, despite its lackluster reception, the Chromebook R13 is a great device and maybe Acer is looking to launch a new Intel-based model to compete with the likes of the ASUS C302 and Samsung Plus.

Only time will tell. Hopefully, we can gain some insight as we travel to Las Vegas for CES 2018. Acer will be there along with many others and we have our fingers crossed that Chrome OS will make a strong showing this time around.

Stay tuned.

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Source: Chromium Repository