In the build up to last year’s Made by Google hardware event, we shared our three leading guesses for the in-development devices most likely to be Google’s Chrome OS flagship for 2018. Two of those, “Nocturne” and its failed predecessor, “Meowth”, were accounted for by the Pixel Slate, leaving “Atlas” unexplained. Knowing Google’s recent history with hardware leaks, it was only a matter of time before Atlas revealed itself. The time has come, as leaked two videos purported to be of the Atlas Chromebook have come to light, offering our first glimpse of what could be the next Made by Google laptop.
Today’s Atlas leaks come courtesy of About Chromebooks and Brandon Lall, who claim to have uncovered the videos from within the Chromium Bug Tracker, which has been a reliable source for these kinds of leaks in the past. While the videos seem to have been taken down from the bug tracker or made private, they were first preserved for our enjoyment.
In our research last year, we were fairly confident of Atlas’s future position in the Made by Google lineup because it was being built by the same manufacturer as the Pixelbook (Quanta Corp) and was even said to be “closely related to” the Pixelbook. What we find in the leaked videos is something that looks radically different from the Pixel brand as we’ve seen it thus far, potentially calling our belief of Atlas’s Made by Google status into question.
In this first leaked video we see that Atlas may be a traditional clamshell style Chromebook. Judging from the hinge location, it does not appear to be any sort of a convertible like the Pixelbook was. I think this is wise on Google’s part, as if this device were a convertible, it would directly compete with the Pixel Slate, pushing it out of the market.
The upper and lower bezels are still thick, but the new 16:9 aspect ratio is definitely a change from Pixels past. While the quality of the video makes it impossible to know for certain, my rough visual comparison to the 4K Lenovo Yoga Chromebook tells me that Atlas is likely equipped with a 4K display, as we expected.
Below the hinge, we can very clearly see that the device is labeled with a “ProductName” placeholder. Printing the device’s name on the device itself is very far outside of how Google typically handles branding on their flagship devices. Usually the most significant branding on any Pixel is the inclusion of the signature “G” logo.
Working our way downward, we can see that Atlas’s top-row key layout matches up very closely with what can be found on the Pixelbook, except for the “hamburger” key which has been replaced with a power key.
The second video gives us a lot less to work with, as the bug these videos are designed to demonstrate involves the display. Thankfully, it does give us a closer look at the top three rows of the keyboard. The keys themselves are an interesting change from both the Pixelbook and Pixel Slate, as their brownish-gray color offers a sharp contrast to Atlas’s black housing. However, we can’t necessarily draw too many conclusions about these colors. The previously mentioned “ProductName” placeholder very clearly announces that this Atlas device is not a final design.
Overall, if these leaks are accurate, I’m beginning to doubt whether Atlas truly is in the Pixel line of Chromebooks, as the device shown does not have any of the subtleties that the Pixel brand is known for. Hopefully, Google will do some significant refinements between now and launch.
What do you think? After seeing these leaks, do you still believe that Atlas is the next Made by Google Chromebook? Would you purchase a non-convertible “Pixelbook?” Let us know in the comments.
More on Pixelbook:
- Everything we know about ‘Atlas’, another potential ‘Pixelbook 2’ prototype
- The story of ‘Meowth,’ the ‘Pixelbook 2’ convertible prototype that could have been