Welcome to the first of many weekly round-up posts that we’re calling Top Stories This Week. In this segment, we want to give our weekend readers a quick glance at the latest news that has passed through the site this week all in one quickly-consumable space. The full stories won’t be here, but a quick overview of each of the biggest things that happened here at Chrome Unboxed will be represented, summarized, and linked to for further reading should you choose to delve a bit deeper. We’re hopeful these posts will become a helpful place for many of you to catch up if you’ve missed out on some of the bigger stories each week. Let’s get started!
HP x360 arrives and promptly goes on sale
Dominating the news for good reason this week was the splashy arrival of HP’s latest flagship, consumer-focused Chromebook in the x360 14c. We had quite a bit of buzz around this Chromebook because after being announced just a few weeks ago, we already have it in the office and have it unboxed. There’s a quick summary and video about those initial impressions, but I can tell you they are mostly positive so far.
More interstingly, HP has put this Chromebook on a massive sale already. Initially, it was $629 MSRP. We then saw it drop to $529 as a student deal at Best Buy only to be followed by an additional $130 off that asking price just a few days later. Shortly after that, a reader made us aware that there is another stacked promotion that can net you a free set of Sony noise cancelling headphones – a $200 value – in addition to the already ridiculous price. So, to sum up, you can get the brand-new HP Chromebook x360 14c at Best Buy for $399 and get a free $200 pair of noise cancelling headphones as well. For $399. That’s just insane.
The successor to the original Google Home is outed by Google
In a bit of a surprise, the anticipated successor to the original Google Home was outed by FCC photos this week, only to be outdone by Google themselves delivering a quick teaser video of the device in a much more produced sort of way. It was an ingenious reply to the leaks and a creative retort to the fact that the device clearly got out a bit before they were ready to unveil it to the world. Well played, Google.
AMD ‘Zork’ Chromebooks will internally stow away a USI pen
While this story didn’t get a lot of eyes on it, it is important in the broader scheme of things. We’ve uncovered evidence that upcoming Chromebooks with AMD chips inside will tout a feature we’ve yet to see: stowable USI pens. Up until now, the only pens that could actually live inside a Chromebook have been EMR styluses. While I’m fine with that, the writing on the wall is clear that Chromebook manufacturers are all-in on USI pen input at this point. Nearly all the new Chromebooks launching have support built in, even if there are hardly any pens currently available.
With this change, we’ll see upcoming Chromebooks come equipped with this broadly-adopted tech but still have the option to store the pen internally in the device. Additionally, this storage option will also give the pen a place to be charged, replacing the current setup of plugging in the accessory or replacing the batteries. It is a massive step up and will solve the only real issues I have with pens and Chromebooks: storage and charging. We’re really looking forward to this.
We interviewed Google’s John Maletis on The Chrome Cast
In a very special episode of The Chrome Cast this week, we spent a bit of time interviewing John Maletis – Chrome OS Head of Product Management, Engineering and UX. Our discussion was great and we’re hopeful that some of the insight John brings will be beneficial to our listeners and readers alike. Enjoy this episode and know there’s more of this to come!
More movement happening on the Steam/Chromebook front
Evidence has emerged this week of more movement around the efforts to bring Steam support officially to Chromebooks. A mysterious reference to Borealis and what it could mean for the Linux container on Chromebooks is still a little hazy, but clearly an important piece of the puzzle that will give Chromebooks the necessary elements to run Steam properly. This is still an effort very much in development, so keep an eye out for much more on Chromebooks, Steam, and Borealis.
Google’s current Pixel phone strategy is baffling
Anyone paying much attention to the strong rumors around Google’s upcoming Pixel phones is likely as confused as I am at this point. What is the strategy and what is the logic behind a group of mid-range phones for 2020 without a flagship? I’m just as lost as anyone and it is precisely why I’ve made the move away from the Pixel lineup for now. I think Google making mid-range phones is very smart and is one of the only things actually working for them in the phone department, but I’m not the target demographic for those devices. It’s time I moved on and, frankly, I’m sad about it.
Android Nearby Share is working on Chromebooks
We’ve known about Android Nearby Share on Chromebooks for a bit, but this week we actually saw it in action in the Canary Channel. Dinsan Francis of Chrome Story got the entire thing running between his Pixel Slate and an Android device. The interface looks slick and I can’t wait for this feature to officially roll out for all sorts of user from Chrome OS to Windows to Mac to Linux. It’s going to be a very useful addition.
More new, upcoming Chromebooks are added to the growing list
Finally, we had three new Chromebooks added to the ballooning list of upcoming devices we’re tracking. That list can be found here and you can read more about the three additional devices we found here. It puts us at 41 separate boards we’re currently keeping tabs on, and I’d wager there are even more out there we’ve missed and that are on the way. Assuming production can keep marching forward, I’d say we’ll have a very full 12 months ahead of us with product launches from just about every Chromebook manufacturer.
That’s it for this week! If you like this sort of quick-hit wrap up, let us know in the comments. This is a segment we’ve been considering for a bit and, if our readers like it, we’ll keep it up. Also, if you haven’t already, be sure to subscribe to our newsletter so you can stay updated when we share this type of news in real time. You can choose the frequency that’s best for you: per-post, daily digest, or weekly digest. It’s a great way to stay current on all things Google and Chrome OS.