I’ve repeatedly said that the large collection of ‘Hatch’-based Chromebooks (think Samsung Galaxy Chromebook, ASUS Flip C436, etc.) would only grow as 2020 wore on. We’re not even to the point where the first of these Chromebooks based on the ‘Hatch’ baseboard are up for purchase and already more are being added to the pile. For a rundown, we already have ‘Kohaku’ (Samsung Galaxy), ‘Helios'(ASUS Flip C436), ‘Kindred’, ‘Kled’, ‘Akemi’ (Lenovo Flex 5), ‘Dratini’, ‘Dragonair’, ‘Jinlon’ and ‘Palkia’ that we know of. And each of these boards could come in a variety of variants as well.
Today, we add yet another name to the expanding list of 10th-gen Intel Comet Lake devices by way of ‘Stryke’, a device that looks to enter the fray with a few less frills than some of the other competitors, and this could be to its advantage. Sure, ‘Hatch’-based devices like the Samsung Galaxy Chromebook deliver on nearly every possible front. They look great, are packed with features, and there is only one real downside for general consumers: the price. There are quite a few users that are ready to check out Chrome OS, but they aren’t ready to really invest in it quite yet.
‘Stryke’ has a particular feature removed that makes me think it will be aimed more towards the middle of the pack. With most top-tier Chromebooks, there is an ambient light sensor on board. While some Chromebooks (like the Pixelbook, Pixel Slate, and Pixelbook Go) use these sensors to brighten or dim the screen automatically based on your environment, upcoming top-tier devices like the Galaxy Chromebook and ASUS Chromebook Flip C436 have a better version of this that actually allows the display to adjust colors based on the environment as well. In this commit, we see ‘Stryke’ not only losing the fancier ALS sensor, but the entire sensor altogether:
stryke: remove ALS support Stryke of the hatch family do not include any ALS sensor. Remove it entirely, both to save space and to disable some factory tests.
That’s OK, because devices this puts ‘Stryke’ more in the company of devices like the Lenovo Flex 5 that we saw out in Las Vegas at CES 2020 will provide a great option for those looking to wade into the Chromebook waters without the need of such a hefty investment. Please hear me: I’m not saying I think the Galaxy Chromebook and Flip C436 are expensive or overpriced. I think that they line up quite well with the hardware on offer, but there are plenty of people disinterested in the latest, greatest hardware. They just want a solid device at a good price.
‘Hatch’-based Chromebooks like ‘Stryke’ and the Lenovo Flex 5 are going to be bit hits and big sellers because of this fact. At the end of the day, you don’t necessarily need a 4K AMOLED screen, fingerprint scanner, the thinnest chassis, or the most premium build materials. If you can get a fast Chromebook with a good keyboard, display, trackpad and enough storage for a third to half of the price of the top-tier devices, that may be a better purchase for many users. After all, each of the Comet Lake Chromebooks released this year, regardless of their feature sets, will all receive updates until June of 2028. This is almost reason enough to buy a new Chromebook in 2020 all by itself.
While people like myself are drooling over the Samsung Galaxy Chromebook and the ASUS Chromebook Flip C436 (and probably every other Project Athena certified Chromebook that will debut this year), the truth is the general market has only moved forward to the point that many consumers are willing to pay $400 – $600 for a good Chromebook. That’s great because that wasn’t the case a few years ago. I firmly think we’ll see a day in the next few years where consumers feel confident in investing $800 – $1000 in a Chromebook as a long-term computing solution, but we need a few of them out there in the wild to move the market in that direction, first.
For now, devices like the Lenovo Flex 5 and this new ‘Stryke’ Chromebook and likely many others like them will provide a much-more-palatable set of features and price points for general consumers interested in getting started with a Chromebook. Along with that sweet 8-year update cycle, these mid-range Chromebooks will be the real heroes of 2020 for Chrome OS even if the big guns get all the press and all the marketing money. Mark my words: the big sellers will be the ones that aim for the middle, and we hope there will be plenty to choose from.