What is Chromebook X and what does it mean if you want to get into ChromeOS?

You might have caught wind of recent rumours that Google is working on some initiative that’s been dubbed “Chromebook X.” Sounds mysterious. Spooky. Sexy. But what is it? Or, at least, what do we think it is? We don’t have firm answers yet, but we can make an educated guess.

What’s the deal with Chromebooks?

Before figuring that out, we have to go back to the beginning. Okay, maybe not that far – perhaps up until the last couple of years.

Chromebooks have seen great success in the education sector – whether it’s school districts picking up fleets or families getting one for their kids’ own accord – acting as affordable netbooks that connect students to online exercises and learning tools.

During the pandemic, more administrators joined the wave to make sure kids had a way to get to school from home. Office workers turning remote picked them up as an easy portal to their desks. All sorts of people had one reason or another to pick a Chromebook up. This surge in ChromeOS users may have been great for Google and its partner manufacturers, but it also put more pressure on some of the longstanding sore points of the platform.

Google rallied its developers to push new features like Phone Hub (via XDA-Developers) and began striking up relationships with the likes of Microsoft and Valve for major campaigns such as bringing official Minecraft and Steam clients to ChromeOS. Last year, Chromebook producers began selling “gaming Chromebooks” focusing on fast display refresh rates, RGB accent lighting, and cloud gaming services like GeForce Now, Xbox, Amazon Luna, and not Stadia (RIP).

Beyond that, Google was keen on bringing and promoting more functionality and applications into the ChromeOS fold, whether it was an integrated program or something on the web. It has glommed onto Adobe’s Photoshop Online, LumaFusion, Linux apps, and much more.

How does one buy a Chromebook?


Via: Internet Archive

Those on the hunt for Chromebooks these days can find them for less than $100 to over $1,000 from your local retailer (erm, Argos, Best Buy, Amazon, take your pick), but you wouldn’t be able to tell one from the other based solely on price alone unless you could decrypt the major spec points on each product.

Maybe you’re looking to buy a Chromebook for yourself. You’d naturally just Google “Chromebooks” and the top result is… a Google website for Chromebooks! Until early 2023, you would see the company (and only the company on that webpage) promote Chromebooks with two major labels: Plus and Premium.

What are the major differences here? Both of them can run Microsoft’s basic Office suite of products – Word, Excel, PowerPoint – and can do some level of video calling or conferencing. Plus Chromebooks generally have 64GB of local storage, while Premium Chromebooks will have 128GB or more and can handle multitasking or heavier workloads like video editing. Other than the storage spec, these were fairly vague parameters regarding what kind of performance you could expect. Generally speaking, more advanced ARM-based mobile chipsets powered Plus devices, while Intel Core series processors came on Premium ones. But again, how much muscle you actually get would also depend on whether you got a Snapdragon 7c, a MediaTek Dimensity chip, an Intel Core i3, or even an i5.

Google likely realized it needed a better, more prominent way to convey which Chromebooks could do what.

So, what’s Chromebook X?


Via: Web Archive

In June 2023, 9to5Google found hints in the Chromium Gerrit – the public-facing code repository for Chromium-based operating systems, including ChromeOS – that the company was working on an initiative dubbed “Chromebook X.” It’s not related to a specific piece of upcoming hardware, but rather an overarching brand for a bunch of powerful devices in the middle of the price range – roughly $350 to $500.

Chromebook X devices would receive exclusive Google features like Live Captions, mic noise cancellation, and portrait-style background blur in Meet video calls, the ability to shift between 16 “desks” or configurations of web tabs and apps, and easy, offline access to some Google Drive files. The details of those features and how cohesive the packaging will be are currently limited. It’s been reported that, broadly speaking, Chromebooks running chips in the 5th-gen AMD Ryzen and 12th-gen Intel Core and perhaps even Celeron or Pentium series will be able to join the Chromebook X ranch.

A Google insider claims we’ll see Chromebook X (or whatever it will actually be called) bear fruit as soon as the end of the year – we’d guess probably in time for the Christmas shopping season.

Will Chromebook X make sense?

Google probably needs more than only its own good graces to make this “X” club one for potential buyers to join. People need to know whether they can use specific apps on ChromeOS because they rely on them for school and work. If the company can guarantee that X, Y, and Z apps don’t just work, but work well by having some form of testing done somewhere down the chain (perhaps at the manufacturer level), then that should be one of the specifications required to get that “X” sticker.

One of the exclusive features Google is said to be pipelining is a wallpaper day/night cycler. It’s a nice quality-of-life improvement; it misses the point when addressing what a buyer wants. So, count us skeptical until we hear more.

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