A large part of a Chromebook's appeal involves its decidedly dumbed-down parts. Dumb here doesn't mean "weak" or "inefficient." It means stripped-down, bared to the essentials.
A Chromebook runs Chrome OS — essentially a glorified Chrome browser — and it used to be that these devices did not have top-of-the-line chips, RAM, or even discrete graphics cards. Third parties outfitted it with average to below-average internals, and they were still good to go. That meant companies could sell them at very low costs, which in turn meant they appealed to a huge portion of the education sector. In fact, Chromebooks own 50 percent of the educational tech market in the United States — and that's from a report in 2015.
Oddly enough, Google then started making Chromebooks fancier, expanding the portfolio to include models with top-tier specs, which also meant top-tier prices. That's why when the Google Pixelbook came out last year, critics almost unanimously said it was too pricey for what it offers.
Even still, Google apparently isn't giving up on the premium category of Chromebooks. As XDA Developers reports, the Chromium OS source code just got updated with a reference to a device called "Atlas," whose display apparently boasts a resolution of 3,840 x 2,160 — or 4K.
Other details remain vague. There's this bit about the 4K Atlas Chromebook not having an SD card slot, but that's about it. Reddit user -nbsp-, who spotted Atlas, says that there are mentions of a keyboard, touchpad, and touchscreen. If the code turns out to be accurate, we might be looking at Google's very first Chromebook with a 4K display.
Does It Even Need 4K?
The bigger question here is if a Chromebook even needs 4K display. Sure, 4K is a great upgrade over the Pixebook's 3:2 2,400 x 1,600 display, but that will mostly benefit gamers and graphics professionals — the types of folks who probably don't use a Chromebook in their workflow. That doesn't mean a 4K screen is useless on a Chromebook, however. At best, a display like that would really bring out the best in watching movies, web browsing, and reading.
Other than the above, there's very little information about Atlas right now. Perhaps Google has something more to show during its forthcoming I/O developer conference, or perhaps another manufacturer, not Google, intends to make a 4K Chromebook.
Would you buy a Chromebook with a 4K display? Feel free to sound off in the comments section below!