It’s been some time since we talked about our old friend ‘Pbody’. What was expected (and for the most part confirmed) to be the upcoming Chrome OS version of the Lenovo Yoga Book unveiled at IFA Berlin in September of last year, ‘Pbody’ appeared to be getting all its loose ends tied up in preparation for release to the public. As of late, most of the work on the 12″ convertible was focused on the touch keyboard which would be the first of its kind for a Chromebook.
In case you aren’t familiar with Lenovo’s “halo” keyboard, this is it. A fully touch keyboard that relies on haptic feedback much like your phone to create the sensation of a mechanical device when typing. Combine this new feature with the already gorgeous hardware of the Yoga Book’s Windows and Android counterparts and we are looking at a device I want for no other reason than its unique appeal. (having a Skylake processor doesn’t hurt either)
Anyway, what I want isn’t really a factor here. I have just been truly excited about this device and what it could bring to the Chrome OS ecosystem. Did I mention how sleek and sexy this thing is? Yes? Okay, I digress.
To the Point
With all the buzz around the Samsung Chromebook Plus/Pro, the mild anxiety-inducing wait for the Play Store and all the new devices on the horizon, we’ve sort of lost track of the Yoga Book. I guess in the back of our minds it was just a matter of when, not if. The device is a thing. It’s in development. We’ve seen comments from developers in the repository talking specifically about this thing in their possession. Honestly, I expected to see this thing by mid-summer.
‘Pbody’ is Dead!
Maybe you’re not as shocked as I was but seriously, when Robby messaged me late last night with a link to a commit that clearly pointed to the abrupt termination of this devices brief life, I was taken aback. At first glance you might not even notice it but deep down, in the developer comments, is where we often stumble upon the richest of information on these devices. The following commit was literally just an issue fix for the touch_keyboard module but it essentially was the death of ‘Pbody’.
This works on my Pbody. I know Pbody is dead, but we should merge this patch in anyway so we don’t have to solve this issue again if we ever use touch_keyboard again.
Okay, so it was a bit more dramatic in my head. Really though, this was kind of a gut punch. My personal wants aside, Lenovo went out of their way to commit to this device or something like it. Don’t get me wrong, this doesn’t mean we will NEVER see a Yoga Book Chromebook but from the comment it really does seem the touch keyboard concept has been iced for the time being.
We’ve dug around and the touch_keyboard module does look like it’s being baked into Chrome OS but as far as a device using it there’s nothing. ‘Pbody’ was the only Chromebook using this feature and it is a little sad because this wasn’t a cumbersome EDU Chromebook. This was going to be a sleek, stylish and down-right sexy convertible that combined all the latest and greatest features of Chrome OS and some unique to the Yoga Book line. But, as another commit has clearly stated,
As there’s no need on building Pbody release, removing the builder.
Why Lenovo, Why?
From the outside looking in, it’s hard to see any real reason from a development standpoint why ‘Pbody’ was abandoned. From a marketing position, however, the demise of the Chrome OS Yoga Book might be a little easier to understand. The Windows and Android versions of the Yoga Book were met with very critical reviews and as a result its popularity has waned in the wake of other devices offering a more practical computing experience.
Still, none of these writing features make up for the terrible typing experience. Although it scores points for novelty, the Yoga Book is too unreliable to be a true productivity machine.
Not to mention the Chrome OS version was to house a Skylake chip making it more high-end than its counterparts. Possibly, Lenovo decided the profitability just isn’t there, yet. I think Engadget hit the nail on the head here. The Yoga Book is a novelty and until the gimmick acquires the functionality it needs maybe we’re better off waiting for the Yoga Book Chromebook. Even I will admit, typing on a haptic feedback keyboard during my daily tasks sounds horrid. Still, I really want this device to become a reality.
Source: Chromium Repository, Engadget