Why I Bet Google's Hi-Def, Touchscreen Chromebook Is Real

Android Authority has snagged an intriguing video that purports to show a sleek, new Chromebook with 2560 x 1700 resolution touchscreen called the Chromebook Pixel. The video claims the machine is "designed by Google, down to the last pixel."

Is this for real?

There's no smoking gun, but I have subtle yet compelling evidence that it is.


New ChromeBook - Next Generation Concept... by androidauthority

Where Did This Video Come From?

The video came from Android Authority, as far as I'm concerned, because it has disappeared from its original sources. Bogdan Petrovan at Android Authority tells it like this: A developer named François Beaufort, who spotted exciting upcoming features in Chrome last week, posted this video on Google+. It disappeared shortly thereafter, but not before Android Authority could snag it.

The description made it sound like the clip came from a company called Slinky.me, which makes some kind of visual guides to things. The company posted on Google+ claiming that its servers were attacked by hackers and apologizing for "the fact that many projects have been shown previously ! ! ! Please re-share ! This is very important" [sic].

Now, that sounds like classic tech blog trolling to me. "Whoops! You've never heard of us, but we accidentally lost control of a sexy new Google product video! We're really sorry!" And then the company gets press. That's a win for some companies, even if it means getting blackballed by Google forever.

But I've been dealing with Google PR for a while. I've covered ChromeOS device launches and had briefings with the team. And there are some clues in here that seem totally legit to me.

Smells Like Google

First of all, we've been seeing evidence of touchscreen Chrome OS for a long time. My instinct was always that this meant a development in the other direction, a Chrome tablet, rather than a touchscreen Chromebook. And I wouldn't rule that out, either. When I interviewed the Chrome OS people in May, VP of engineering Linus Upson said to expect "a number of different form factors." A touchscreen laptop would qualify under that description as well.

But the telltale sign about the Chromebook Pixel to me is in just one line from the narrator in the video. "Your computer actually gets better over time," the disembodied voice says. This was straight out of the Google PR playbook. The Google PR folks intoned it over and over again when I talked to them ahead of the Samsung Chromebook and Chromebox launch.

The translation is that Chrome OS devices get better because they're just a browser in a box, and whenever Google improves Chrome, the machine's whole OS benefits. But it's a subtle point, a geeky point. One Googlers would care about more than anyone else. It's one you'd have to be very familiar with Google's party line not to miss.

So I'll go out on a limb here and say this machine is real. A high-spec Chromebook is definitely what Google needs to prove the worth of the Chrome OS idea, and a touchscreen is icing on the cake.