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Windows laptops? The real stars of CES 2023 were ChromeOS devices

Windows laptops? The real stars of CES 2023 were ChromeOS devices

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CES 2023 is the happiest time of the year for technology fans. Not only does it bring new CPUs and GPUs, but we’re also getting a bunch of great laptops and accessories. However, one category is often overlooked: Chromebooks. 2022 delivered a lot of great ChromeOS-based devices like the HP Elite Dragonfly Chromebook and Framework Chromebook, but based on what I saw at CES 2023, it looks like this year will be even better.

First, HP performed strongly with the Dragonfly Pro Chromebook, which offers many firsts for a ChromeOS device. Then Acer unveiled a really snazzy Chromebox that has its own display unit. Hell, there was even a new cloud gaming Chromebook from Asus that looks just as exciting. And these announcements were just the beginning. We’ve looked at everything and can only be more excited to see what’s next for ChromeOS devices.

The revival of Chromeboxes

Acer Chromebox 4

CES 2023 heralded the revival of the Chromebox. If you’ve ever looked at my list of the best chrome boxes, you might have noticed that it doesn’t include devices with newer generation Intel CPUs. Our top pick, and many of the other Chromebox devices we’ve mentioned, are maxed out with options for 10th Gen Intel CPUs. That proves it’s been almost three years since an OEM released a new Chromebox with the latest Intel versions.

Luckily, it looks like that will change in 2023. Two new Chromebox units are coming from different OEMs, and both should be exciting for ChromeOS fans.

The first is one I’ve already covered extensively here at XDA: the Acer Chromebox CXI5. Then there’s the Asus Chromebox 5. Both are exciting, mostly because of their 12th Gen Intel CPUs. It may be true that the 12th gen is now the last gen (with the newly announced 13th gen mobile chipsets just announced at CES), but the Chromebox CXI5 is one of the first Chromeboxes to feature these CPUs and one release date. We’d previously heard of the ThinkCentre M60q Chromebox announced by Lenovo, but that’s yet to see the light of day.

I’m really excited to see what Intel’s new performance and efficiency cores can bring to Chromebox performance.

I’m really excited to see what the performance and efficiency cores of these 12th generation chips can offer for longer tasks like running kiosks or web servers. We’ve already seen them in real laptops, but now it’s cool to see them in desktop form.

However, we also can’t forget that the Chromebox CXI5 has an optional modular display called the Add-in-One 24 monitor. This in itself is quite interesting as it finally shows just how versatile Chromebox units can be. Just slide the Chromebox unit into a monitor, set up speakers and a webcam, and it can become an all-in-one solution when space is limited, like in a small office. The Asus Chromebox 5 also has a unique build with a QI charger on top, which doesn’t even have a Windows mini desktop as far as I can tell.

With Acer and Asus taking the lead and outfitting their Chromeboxes with new Intel CPUs, it will be interesting to see if Lenovo and HP do the same, along with third-party OEMs like AOpen. Either way, it shows that Chromeboxes are making a comeback and only time will tell if other manufacturers follow suit.

A Chromebook with features that even the Windows version doesn’t have

HP Dragonfly Pro Chromebook 9

It’s not uncommon for laptop OEMs to release both Windows and Chromebook versions of a device. We’ve seen Lenovo do this in the past with its IdeaPad line, but at CES 2023 this year, HP announced its Dragonfly Pro Chromebook, sitting alongside the Windows-powered Dragonfly Pro. While HP has already done this with its Elite Dragonfly line, the Chromebook offers many features that even the Windows version doesn’t have, including many firsts for a Chromebook device.

I understand a lot of people found this odd, but the HP Dragonfly Pro Chromebook is the first non-cloud gaming Chromebook device to feature an RGB keyboard. That alone is pretty cool as I like my devices with a little more bling. For comparison: the Windows version has a normal white backlit keyboard. Apart from that, the Dragonfly Pro Chromebook has an 8MP webcam, beating the Windows version’s 5MP webcam. Finally, the device has four Thunderbolt 4 ports and a 1,200 nit display. The Windows version only has two USB-C ports and a 400 nit screen.

HP sets the bar pretty high for Chromebook features, just like it did with the Dragonfly Chromebook. It’s almost as if HP wants you to buy a Chromebook version of its flagship product, rather than the Windows version. Anyway, I hope it’s just the beginning of a long line of fantastic hardware. It’s stunning to see and I want other OEMs to release ChromeOS devices with similar features. A little competition never hurt anyone.

Cloud gaming Chromebooks are here to stay

Asus CX3401 Chromebook

2022 ended with Google partnering with Asus, Acer and Lenovo on new cloud gaming Chromebooks packed with impressive features like high refresh rate screens and RGB keyboards. Some critics have argued that this is too niche as nobody really wants a Chromebook to play with, so it’s fascinating to see this trend continue into 2023. At CES, Asus announced another Chromebook for gamers, the Asus Chromebook Vibe CX34 Flip, proving that cloud gaming Chromebooks are here to stay.

Unlike his first Vibe CX34 Flip, this one is far more impressive. It features an RGB keyboard, a smaller 14-inch 144Hz screen, and 12th Gen Intel CPUs. The way I see it, if Asus is confident enough to release a second cloud gaming Chromebook, then there are definitely more from other OEMs as well. We’re excited to see what’s next.

Will 2023 be the year of the Chromebook?

As I mentioned in my ChromeOS 2022 roundup, Google really built ChromeOS in 2022 by addressing concerns that the platform wasn’t designed for gaming or video editing. Now, ChromeOS isn’t just for surfing the web. With CES 2023 showcasing fantastic new hardware, I have high hopes for Chromebooks, especially given the rumors that Google will no longer make its own Pixel-branded Chromebooks. It’s now up to OEMs to bring glory to ChromeOS, and we’re already seeing that at CES.

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