The Asus Chromebook Flip was an unusual device when it launched in 2015: it’s one of the first Chromebooks to feature a 10 inch display, and the touchscreen laptop is also one of the first Chrome OS devices to have a tablet mode: flip the screen back 360 degrees and you can hold the Chromebook Flip like a tablet.
This year it became even more special, since the Chromebook Flip was the first Chrome OS device to gain support for Android apps.
But it looks like Asus may be working on another convertible Chromebook… and it’s likely to be significantly more powerful.
Asus hasn’t officially announced any new Chromebooks, but the folks at Chrome Unboxed noticed a few comments in Google’s Chromium source code pointing to a new device code-named “Cave.”
The nice thing about open source projects is that anyone can inspect the code… and sometimes there are comments that offer clues about upcoming software changes. And since companies working on new Chrome OS hardware typically want to make sure their laptops, desktops, and tablets support the operating system, sometimes you can see mentions of unannounced products in the code.
Not all of those devices are released as real products, so it’s possible that the Cave system won’t ever see the light of day. But here’s what Asus seems to be working on:
- It has a touchscreen display.
- Tablet functionality is enabled based on the position of the lid, strongly suggesting that this is a convertible notebook/tablet like the Asus Chromebook Flip.
- Cave seems to have a 6th-gen Intel Core “Skylake” processor.
There’s no word on the screen size, display resolution, memory, or other specs. But the Skylake CPU suggests that the new model will be more powerful (and probably more expensive) than the first-gen Chromebook Flip, which has a 1280 x 800 pixel display, a Rockchip RK3288 processor, and support for up to 4GB of RAM and up to 16GB of storage.
Asus loaned me a Chromebook Flip recently so I could try out Android apps on a Chromebook, and I’ve actually been pretty impressed with this 2.1 pound convertible’s performance as both a laptop and a tablet… and now that it supports Android apps I’m kind of tempted to spend $266 to pick up one that I can keep for myself.
It’s unlikely that a Skylake-powered model would be this cheap (or this small, quiet honestly). But if the new model has a higher-resolution display and more storage space, that might be enough to tempt me.