CES 2023 might just be the year of gaming Chromebooks and the return of the Chromebox
We could be in for an exciting year of ChromeOS devices.
Every year when CES rolls around, the event gives companies the opportunity to show off different prototypes or pieces of technology that will never see the light of day. But CES has also become the home of when many of the first new Chromebooks for the year are revealed.
During CES 2022, we saw the likes of the HP Elite Dragonfly Chromebook, Acer Chromebook Spin 513, and a few others that turned out to be the best Chromebooks of the year. This trend looks to continue as CES 2023 comes to a close, providing us with a few new Chromebooks, but also something that we haven’t seen in almost two years.
HP Dragonfly Pro Chromebook
Until the Framework Laptop Chromebook Edition swooped in at the end of 2022 to steal my heart, my favorite Chromebook of last year remained HP’s incredible Elite Dragonfly Chromebook. The Elite Dragonfly is still an elegant device, but HP decided that there were enough potential changes to warrant a successor.
The HP Dragonfly Pro Chromebook drops the “Elite” moniker for “Pro,” but still offers a flagship ChromeOS experience in a compact and sleek design. The haptic trackpad returns with the Dragonfly Pro, while also being powered by Intel’s 12th Gen Core i5-1235U chipset and 16GB of RAM.
Unlike last year’s Elite Dragonfly, this year’s rendition will be available in two different color options, as HP is offering either Ceramic White or Sparkling Black. But the real surprise here is in the upgraded RGB backlit keyboard. Near the end of 2022, we saw a slew of gaming Chromebooks launched, but the Dragonfly Pro isn’t even being positioned as a competitor in that space. It’s just a great-looking Chromebook that happens to have a keyboard with RGB integrated.
The HP Dragonfly Pro Chromebook is slated to be released sometime this spring, while pricing has not yet been revealed.
ASUS Chromebook Vibe CX34 Flip
Shortly following Google’s announcement that Stadia would be added to the “Killed by Google” graveyard, the company partnered with the likes of Acer, ASUS, and Lenovo to announce some cloud-gaming-focused Chromebooks. Some of these gaming Chromebooks include RGB keyboards and fast refresh rates, but there was something off about the ASUS Chromebook Vibe CX55 Flip. It’s powered by Intel’s 11th Gen processors with a 1080p display and essentially reused the same chassis from the Chromebook Flip CX5, with some minor changes.
It seems that ASUS had something else planned all along, as the Chromebook Vibe CX34 Flip was introduced during CES 2023. The Vibe CX34 Flip is more of what we would have expected to see from a new gaming Chromebook out of the ASUS camp. It sports a 14-inch display with a 1920 x 1200 (WUXGA) resolution, complete with a 144Hz refresh rate, but also offers a 16:10 aspect ratio.
In terms of power, Intel’s 12th Gen chips are on board here, as there will be three different processor configurations available, ranging from the Intel Core i3-1215U to the Core i7-1255U. The Core i5 and Core i7 models will also have Intel’s Iris Xe graphics onboard, hopefully opening the door for Steam compatibility once the Vibe CX34 is released.
Other features of the Chromebook Vibe CX34 Flip include an RGB backlit keyboard, WiFi 6E, USI pen support, and even HDMI 2.1 so you can plug into an external gaming monitor. While ASUS didn’t provide specifics for pricing and availability, it appears as though (courtesy of Chrome Unboxed) you can already grab the Intel Core i5 version from B&H Photo for $770.
Lenovo IdeaPad Flex 3i Chromebook
It definitely seems as though 2023 will be the year of high-end gaming options, but what about budget Chromebooks? It looks as though Lenovo, HP, and Acer will continue to battle it out in the sub-$500 space, and while the Lenovo IdeaPad Flex 3i Chromebook was announced in December 2022, it was on full display during CES 2023.
Right off the bat, the Flex 3i doesn’t try to “wow” you with RGB keyboards or a fancy display with a fast refresh rate. In fact, that’s part of what makes the Flex 3i exciting in its own right. Well, that and the fact that the base model with 4GB of RAM and 64GB of storage starts at just $349. This immediately makes it a contender for one of the best student Chromebooks, or just for those who want a cheap laptop to browse the web and check emails.
The Flex 3i is also more compact than many other Chromebooks to be launched in the past year, as Lenovo uses a 12.2-inch, FHD display with a 16:10 aspect ratio. There are also plenty of ports onboard, with USB-C, USB-A, HDMI, and even a microSD card slot. And as you might suspect from a Chromebook of this size, it’s rated to last for up to 12 hours on a single charge.
Something else that is helping Lenovo keep the cost so low with the Flex 3i is that it’s now powered by Intel’s new N100 and N200 processors. Again, this isn’t going to be a multitasking powerhouse, but it will be more than sufficient for most users who just want a cheap Chromebook.
Acer Chromebox CXI5 and Add-In-One 24
As I alluded to earlier, CES 2023 was the event where the Chromebox was reintroduced to the market. The Acer Chromebox CXI4 was announced in October 2020 before it was subsequently released in 2021. But the ChromeOS world has drastically changed since then, making now the perfect time for Acer to launch a successor.
We’ve already covered the official announcement for the CXI5 and the Add-In-One 24, but in case you missed that, there will be five different processor configurations available once the CXI5 is released. All of these, except for the Celeron 7305 model, are using Intel’s 12th Gen processors, and can also be configured with up to 16GB of RAM.
And if you’re looking for an all-in-one ChromeOS solution, complete with a monitor, keyboard, and mouse, then you might want to check out the Add-In-One 24. Essentially, this is just a bundle that includes the Chromebox CXI5 and a 14-inch FHD monitor, but there’s also a built-in webcam at the top of the monitor.
Both of these new products are expected to arrive sometime in Q1 2023. Pricing for the CXI5 is said to start at $289, while the Add-In-One 24 is coming in at $609.
ASUS Chromebox 5
If I had to pick a favorite out of the ChromeOS devices announced during CES 2023, it would probably have to be the ASUS Chromebox 5. To be honest, I’m intrigued by everything, but am really excited to see the return of the Chromebox in 2023. But there’s one feature that helps the Chromebox 5 stand apart from Acer Chromebox CXI5.
Before diving too deep into the weeds, ASUS is making all the right moves in terms of performance. Once released, you’ll be able to get up to Intel’s 12th Gen Core-i7 processor, along with expandable RAM and storage. There are also plenty of ports on board, with two HDMI ports, 2.5Gbps Ethernet, four USB-A ports, Thunderbolt 4, and more.
But in a world where mini desktop PCs are becoming more popular, the ASUS Chromebox 5 has something that none of the other options do. Wireless charging. No, you can’t wirelessly charge the Chromebox itself, but instead, there’s a 15W Qi wireless charger built right into the top of the frame.
You also won’t have to worry about whether this is only for Qi2 wireless charging, as it still uses the traditional Qi standard. But now, you can just place your smartphone or wireless earbuds down on the top of the Chromebox 5 to charge, and won’t have to worry about having a separate charger on your desk.
The only potential concern that I have comes down to how the Chromebox will handle the heat between the internal components and the heat from your phone. Even still, we can’t imagine that it would be enough to cause the outer case of the Chromebox 5 to melt or anything.
Pricing for the ASUS Chromebox 5 will start at $399 for the base model, and we are expecting to see this arrive sometime in Q1 2023.
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Andrew Myrick is a Senior Editor at Android Central. He enjoys everything to do with technology, including tablets, smartphones, and everything in between. Perhaps his favorite past-time is collecting different headphones, even if they all end up in the same drawer.