New 'Kevin' Chromebook Joined By Lower 'Gru' Model

There appears to be some new Chromebooks on the way, and not just one but two new Chrome OS-based, convertible-type devices, one called "Gru" and the other called "Kevin." Until now, these codenames appeared to refer to a single new Chromebook device with a high resolution display, support for a stylus and a folding 360-degree design. This has the makings of a notebook combination device with a note-taking stylus and sounds interesting. The rumors to this point were that the Gru codename was given to the mainboard of the Kevin device, based on looking through Chromium code commits in the Google Git. However, a fresh look at the code appears to show something new: Gru is not only a motherboard but also a device in its own right. There are therefore two new products with slightly different specifications being prepared.

The display panel for the Gru device looks to be a 12.2-inch, 1,920 by 1,200 pixel panel, which compares with the rumored Kevin Chromebook will use a 2,400 by 1,600 pixel display panel. It certainly appears sensible to offer two products based on a similar form factor, but one with a higher specification than the other. For those customers upgrading from an older Chromebook, where most display panels are 1,366 by 768 pixels, either of these two devices should offer a sharper and potentially better quality display panel. Both appear to be based around the same Rockchip RK3399 System-on-Chip, which is a 64-bit big.LITTLE design featuring a dual core ARM Cortex-A72 application processor for the heavy load and a quad core ARM Cortex-A53 cluster for lower load conditions. The RK3399 also includes the ARM Mali-T864 GPU and support for dual USB Type-C.

Rockchip are marketing their RK3399 chipset for the tablet, notebook and set top box markets and it supports a number of different platforms including Chrome OS and Microsoft Windows 10. To date, ARM-powered Chromebooks have been met with a mixed reception compared with Intel-powered equivalents, being considered less responsive and in some cases for no battery life benefit. However, to date all Rockchip powered Chromebooks have been competitively priced. Whilst we can see that the Chrome OS platform is being prepared for the new hardware, unfortunately at this time it's unclear when the new Chromebooks will be launched, what the remaining specifications are, or what markets will see the two new laptops and at what cost.

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