While the big highlight of each Made by Google event is always the latest Pixel phones, the company has also made fantastic laptops since 2013’s Chromebook Pixel. A new Chromebook has surfaced, codenamed “Halvor,” that looks like it could be the next Google Pixelbook.
Google’s Chromebooks have always pushed the limits of what’s possible with Chrome OS and driven improvements from other device makers. The Pixel Slate paved the way for other Chrome OS tablets like the Lenovo Chromebook Duet, and the Pixelbook Go is currently driving for quality Chromebooks for the mid-range budget.
Because of that, we’re always looking ahead to what Google’s next Chromebook could be and what it may have in store. This week, the folks at Chrome Unboxed believe they may have found the next Made by Google Chromebook in a device codenamed “Halvor.”
Is “Halvor” Made by Google?
Before we dig into the nitty-gritty of what “Halvor” is, let’s look at why we agree that this at least could be the next Pixelbook. The main factor that tipped Chrome Unboxed off to Halvor’s potential Made by Google status is a recent code change that gives Halvor support for an Assistant key.
Up to this point, there have only been three Chromebooks and three keyboards that include a dedicated key for the Google Assistant. No Chromebook maker other than Google themselves has included that key.
- Google Pixelbook
- Google Pixel Slate Keyboard
- Google Pixelbook Go
- Brydge G-Type for Pixel Slate
- Brydge C-Type
- Logitech K580 Keyboard Chrome OS Edition
Beyond that, in another code change, we find that this Halvor Chromebook’s keyboard will use the exact same top-row layout as the Pixelbook Go, which is fairly similar to the original Pixelbook and Pixel Slate. The primary difference that makes it stand out from other Chromebooks is the inclusion of a Play/Pause key, located between the brightness and volume keys.
That said, these keyboard changes could simply be a case of third-party Chromebook makers finally choosing to be more consistent with Google’s Pixelbook line. We don’t have any evidence that the Google Assistant key can only appear on Made by Google Chromebooks and accessories with Made for Google certification.
Another potential flaw in Halvor’s Made by Google status is the Chromebook’s original design manufacturer (ODM) — the company responsible for designing and developing the device in partnership with Google. Thus far, all Made by Google Chromebooks, including the Pixelbook Go, have been designed by Quanta Computer Inc.
By contrast, judging from the email addresses attached to numerous code changes, we know that Halvor is being developed by Compal. In the past, Compal has produced Chromebooks for the likes of Dell and Lenovo. It’s entirely possible that Google could switch ODMs for this device, but we haven’t seen any public information about that happening.
With all of that in mind, is Halvor the next Made by Google Chromebook? For now, the best answer we can offer is “maybe.”
What is the Halvor Chromebook?
So, what is Halvor, then? Well to start, the name “Halvor” is actually taken from a minor character in the Spyro series. More to the point, the Chromebook codenamed Halvor is built on a “baseboard” called “Volteer” — another Spyro reference — which uses Intel’s upcoming 11th Gen Tiger Lake processors. For comparison, the Pixelbook Go and Pixel Slate use 8th Gen Intel Amber Lake processors.
We also know that Halvor will have a keyboard, a touchpad mouse, and a touchscreen. All of these firmly point to either a clamshell-style laptop like the Pixelbook Go or something that also converts to a tablet like the original Pixelbook.
Other details about the Chromebook are currently few and far between. In one place, we see the two types of RAM that may be in use, but info is only publicly available for one. From what we can piece together, we believe there should be a model with 16GB of RAM.
The only other tidbits we’ve discovered are some of the ports that Halvor will be equipped with. For instance, we know it will indeed have a 3.5mm headphone port, a feature that has so far only been missing from the Pixel Slate. Also, unlike almost every other Chromebook on the market today, Halvor will have three USB-C ports — possibly with USB 4 support — putting it firmly into the category of productivity laptop.
Of course, when it comes to Made by Google Chromebooks, the specs have never been what’s most important. If Halvor truly is the next Pixelbook, we won’t know what truly makes it great until we see the final hardware design.
When could this possible Pixelbook release?
So when could we expect this possible new Pixelbook? With the exception of the Pixel Slate, Google has released a new Chrome OS device every other year since 2013. By that pattern, we’re not expecting a new Made by Google Chromebook until next year.
More importantly, Intel has not even officially announced or launched its 11th Gen Tiger Lake series processors yet. While that announcement is rumored to be taking place next month, Chromebooks are not typically among the first devices to release with a new processor generation.
Further, we believe the development of Halvor to still be in the early stages. For example, Google is only just now working on important things like Halvor’s keyboard layout.
Putting it all together, we’re more likely looking at a 2021 launch for this Chromebook, though it’s hard to say that with any certainty. We would love for Google to surprise us with a proper Pixelbook successor at the 2020 Made by Google event, but it doesn’t seem likely at this point in time.
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