Chromebooks may be synonymous with simple web browsing and casual usage, but a new report has raised the possibility of a beefed-up Chromebook Pro arriving somewhere down the line. But how exactly could Google turn its basic laptops into tools for professionals, while staying within the limits of the lightweight Chrome OS?
This speculation began when Reddit users jellofort and feetextreme noticed that someone (possibly Google) put a survey into Google Opinion Rewards that asks users what they think a 'Chromebook Pro' would be like and how it would differ from a regular Chromebook. And since we're in a giving mood, we've got some answers.
We've reviewed a variety of Chromebooks over the years, and they've rarely wowed us with their aesthetics. In order for a Chromebook Pro to seduce a large sum of money out of wallets, it would need to be as gorgeous as the Chromebook Pixel and then some. A Chromebook Pro should be a convertible with a hinge that allows you to revolve its display 360 degrees, so it can lay flat against its underside in the tablet position. This way, it would be even easier to use the Android apps that are coming soon.
More Speed and Space For Multitasking
We've already seen speedy Core i5 processors in Chromebook For Work notebooks, so the next thing to add to a Chromebook Pro is spacious SSD storage beyond the 32GB drives seen in current models. Not only would this allow for users to install all the Android apps they want, but it will allow users to mirror their entire Google Drive on their notebook.
Once your entire Google Drive lives on your notebook, you'll always have instant access to every Gmail message, Google Doc, Sheet and Slide, even if you're offline. And this combination of faster storage and better processors will enable productive multitasking, especially with multiple Android apps open at once.
A Display Fit For a Pro
We've seen some nice Chromebook screens, but a Chromebook Pro should have a panel that takes things to the next level. First, stretch the traditional 16 x 9 display even wider, so that users will get to place a full-sized Chrome window side-by-side with an Android app.
Next, you'll need a screen that is as high-res, bright, vibrant and accurate as the most recent Surface Pro 4 or MacBook Pro. If a Chromebook Pro expects to draw in users who will be doing creative work on the device, its panel should be color-calibrated prior to reaching the customer's hands, so you can start working immediately.
Now that you've given greater integration with Google's services and a fantastic display with which to view them, you're going to need to make working on those documents a breeze. The Chromebook Pro will need a backlit keyboard with responsive keys that offer more than 1.5 millimeters of travel, a navigation nub that's as good as Lenovo's famed TrackPoint and a clickable touchpad with left and right buttons. Also, bring pinch and zoom gestures to Chrome OS already.
The Comfort and Convenience of Security
Since professionals take their security seriously and also want convenience, a Chromebook Pro should come with biometric login options. For this, we'd like to see both a fingerprint reader and a webcam that offers facial recognition similar to Microsoft's Windows Hello.
A Chromebook Pro should be a device you can depend on, not just something you casually use. This means it should be MIL-SPEC (the standards used to approve military-grade equipment) tested for drops and collisions and it should also pack a battery that lasts over twelve hours.
The biggest obstacle facing a Chromebook for professionals is that such a laptop needs software that isn't currently available for Chrome or Android. Chrome OS' Android support may mean that Adobe Photoshop Express is coming to a Chromebook near you, but Pro users may want more. Either Google needs to create its own competitors to creative apps such as Photoshop, Final Cut Pro and Illustrator, or third party developers need to add full-featured versions of these programs to the Google Play or Chrome Web app stores. No matter how Google builds a Chromebook Pro, they'll need to give it more software tools in order for it to swim with sharks like Apple's MacBook Pro and Microsoft's Surface Pro 4.