Google is introducing the Chromebook Plus badge. ChromeOS devices with the moniker have minimum hardware requirements and will be granted exclusive software and AI features, with Google promising a higher level of performance. On October 8, eight new laptops with the Chromebook Plus branding will be released in North America, starting at $399.
In a blog post today, John Maletis, VP of ChromeOS product, engineering, and UX at Google, said Chromebook Plus laptops have “double the performance” when compared to the top-selling Chromebooks from July to December 2022. Most of that somewhat vague claim comes from the Chromebook Plus’ minimum hardware requirements:
- Intel Core i3 12th Gen or AMD Ryzen 3 7000-series processor
- 8GB of RAM
- 128GB of storage
- 1080p IPS display
- 1080p resolution webcam with temporal noise reduction
Some Chromebooks released before today meet those minimum requirements already. A Google spokesperson said that owners of such laptops “will get upgraded to the Chromebook Plus software experience in the coming weeks.”
The software features included in the Chromebook Plus include Google Photos’ AI-powered Magic Eraser and other “enhanced editing features, like an HDR effect that enhances brightness and contrast, and the ability to add portrait blur to your existing photos,” Maletis wrote.
The devices can also use AI to boost image clarity and lighting during a video call, as well as blur your background and block out background noise (all regardless of the app used). The features will be available via the Chromebook app shelf, Google’s blog said.
Chromebook Plus devices will also support File Sync, which automatically downloads Google Workspace files to the device’s local storage so you can access them offline. This is one of the reasons Chromebook Plus devices have a 128GB storage requirement.
Google plans to add additional features to Chromebook Plus laptops via future updates. The laptops will launch with exclusive dynamic desktop wallpapers that change four times a day, and Google plans to add generative AI wallpapers, so users can enter a prompt like “cats in the style of Van Gogh” and see something like this:
Google also said it will update the Chromebook Plus platform with generative AI-created backgrounds for video calls and the option to bring up an AI-powered writing assistant via a right-click.
New Chromebook Plus laptops
As mentioned, you may already own a laptop that qualifies for the Chromebook Plus badge. But there’s also a slew of new devices with the branding.
Here’s an overview of what we know thus far about the new Chromebook Plus laptops announced today and arriving on October 8:
|Acer Chromebook Plus 514||Up to Ryzen 5 7520C||AMD Radeon 610M||14-inch 1920×1200 IPS||Up to 16GB LPDDR5x||Up to 512GB PCIe 3.0 SSD||$399.99|
|Acer Chromebook Plus 515||Up to Intel Core i7-1355U||Intel UHD||15.6-inch 1920×1080 IPS||Up to 16GB LPDDR5x||Up to 512GB PCIe 4.0 SSD||$399.99|
|Asus Chromebook Plus CM34 Flip||AMD Ryzen 3+||TBD||14-inch IPS||8GB+||128GB+||$499|
|Asus Chromebook Plus CX34||Up to Intel Core i7-1255U||Up to Intel Iris Xe||14-inch 1920×1080 IPS touchscreen||Up to 16GB LPDDR5-4800||Up to 512GB PCIe 3.0 SSD||$399|
|HP Chromebook Plus 15.6-inch||Intel Core i3-N305||Intel UHD||15.6-inch 1920×1080 IPS @ up to 144Hz||8GB LPDDR5-4800||Up to 256GB UFS||$499|
|HP Chromebook Plus x360 14-inch||Up to Intel Core i5-1235U||Up to Intel Iris Xe||14-inch 1920×1200 IPS touchscreen||Up to 16GB LPDDR4x-4266||Up to 512GB PCIe SSD||$699|
|Lenovo IdeaPad Flex 5i Chromebook Plus||Up to Intel Core i5-1334U||Up to Intel Iris Xe||14-inch 1920×1200 touchscreen||8GB LPDDR4x||Up to 512GB PCIe SSD||$499|
|Lenovo Slim 3i Chromebook Plus||Intel Core i3-N305||Intel UHD||up to 14-inch 1920×1080 touchscreen||8GB LPDDR5||Up to 256GB eMMC||$549|
|Lenovo IdeaPad Gaming Chromebook Plus||Up to Intel Core i5-1235U||Up to Intel Iris Xe||16-inch 2560×1600 IPS @ 120Hz||8GB LPDDR4x-4266||Up to 512GB PCIe SSD||€599 (not available in North America)|
Giving the higher-end Chromebooks a “Plus” label makes it easy for shoppers to quickly differentiate premium Chromebooks from entry-level ones targeted at young students and those who need little more than web access. As with any OEM certification program, there’s a marketing angle here, but similar to Intel’s Intel Evo branding, Chromebook Plus can simplify the shopping experience, especially since Google’s standard has clear, straightforward requirements.
However, the Chromebook Plus branding still leaves OEMs wiggle room, including around RAM and storage speed and type, port selection, and battery life. A common complaint about Chromebooks is around durability (especially considering their lower prices and frequent usage by children) and repairability, with some repair activists saying appropriately priced replacement parts are hard to find. It would have been a true “plus” if premium Chromebooks also had durability or repairability requirements. But with Google extending Chromebook support to 10 years last month, we may not see another major, sweeping development for a while.