What is a Chromebook Plus? Exploring Google’s New Chromebook Specification

When I first heard about the addition of the word “plus” to the ChromeOS brand, I initially feared it might be a new subscription plan. But it’s actually a new hardware specification for a more powerful configuration of Chromebooks.

In my latest video we dive into Google’s new Chromebook Plus specification and how it differentiates from a normal Chromebook. You can see the full line of Chromebook Plus devices over at Best Buy (compensated affiliate link).

To be considered a Chromebook Plus, the device must have a minimum of an i3 12th generation processor from Intel or a Ryzen 3 7000 series processor from AMD. Additional specifications include 8 GB of RAM, 128 GB of storage, a full HD 1080p IPS display, about 10 hours of battery life, and a 1080p webcam with noise reduction. If you already own a Chromebook that meets these specifications, it will soon upgrade to Chromebook Plus following an upcoming ChromeOS update.

Price points start at around $399 and on par with pricing for similarly equipped pre-plus Chromebooks.

On the surface, there isn’t much of a difference between a Chromebook Plus and regular Chromebooks. However, Google plans to introduce significant new features involving generative AI. For instance, AI will soon be able to insert text anywhere in the operating system where there’s a text input. Another feature will allow users to change their wallpaper with generative AI suggestions.

One feature I found useful was the ability to synchronize my Google Drive with the Chromebook’s local storage. This means you can carry all of your Google Drive files with you even when offline – provided your Chromebook has sufficient local storage available. Unfortunately there is not currently an option for “selective sync” where the user can specify which files or folders to synchronize vs. others.

The most notable feature is the new OS level webcam and audio controls. Users can adjust background blur, lighting and AI noise reduction from the task bar which ChromeOS then feeds to any app that uses the webcam and microphone. There’s no longer a need to set up these features in each app individually. This is something that exists on other platforms but usually requires third party driver software.

Google Photos on the Chromebook Plus now includes features typically found on Pixel phones, like the Magic Eraser tool. This tool allows you to remove unwanted elements from photos. Another feature lets you create portrait mode photos from regular pictures. Other features are more subtle. One example are the exclusive wallpapers for Chromebook Plus that will change throughout the day.

In addition to helping simplify things for consumers, Google hopes the new tier will also encourage developers to bring higher end applications to the platform. In the past Chromebooks have been a mishmash of processors and configurations – but now with a base performance requirement developers can target a single x64 minimum configuration specification.

Luma Fusion, a video editing app, is one such example. While it’s nowhere near as robust as DaVinci Resolve is on other platforms it did perform well on the Chromebook Plus review unit I received for testing.

So while the differences between a Chromebook Plus and a regular Chromebook might seem subtle now, I anticipate more differentiation in the future. One of the key immediate benefits are consumers being able to differentiate the lower tier of the ChromeOS line from higher performing devices. I will of course come back with more Chromebook Plus feature overviews as they roll out.

Disclosure: Lenovo sent us the Chromebook Plus featured in the video on loan for an upcoming review. This was not a sponsored video nor did anyone review or approve it before uploading.