Credit: Uladzik Kryhin/ShutterstockGoogle's PR department must have a love-hate relationship with the company's open source projects. On the one hand, those projects are often trumpeted as Google's efforts to improve technology without keeping those advancements to itself. On the other hand, open source projects make it hard to keep secrets, as demonstrated by the many leaks involving a new Chromebook design that's been codenamed "Hatch."
Chrome Unboxed has learned a lot about Hatch from code changes made to the Chromium project at the heart of the Chrome web browser and Chrome OS. The publication's most recent discovery was that Hatch will feature a display similar to the one found in the Google Pixelbook that debuted in October 2017. That 12.3-inch display has a 3:2 aspect ratio and 2400x1600 resolution that easily differentiates it from most of the other Chromebooks on the market.
The vast majority of Chromebooks--and laptops in general--feature a 16:9 aspect ratio. That emphasis on horizontal space is great for watching videos, but the corresponding limit on vertical space can be a hindrance for many other tasks, especially on the web. Many designers limit the maximum width of their sites to make sure visitors only have to worry about scrolling in one direction (vertically) instead of two.
Chromebooks are essentially a web browser with a bunch of hardware wrapped around it, so it makes sense for Google to opt for the extra vertical space afforded by a 3:2 aspect ratio instead of sticking with the 16:9 status quo. Having a less rectangular design also makes a display more flexible, not in the 'you can fold your phone!' sense of the word, but in the way that it can be used for laptops and tablets alike.
That meshes with several of Chrome Unboxed's other discoveries about Hatch. The outlet said this device will feature a stylus, as well as a fingerprint scanner for biometric security. Both of those features are found in laptops, sure, but they're more common in tablets. Google designed the Pixelbook to be used as a laptop, tablet, or something in between; using the same display in Hatch could enable similar configuration options.
Other code changes to Chromium have revealed that Hatch will feature a backlit keyboard, improved support for extended displays and Intel's upcoming 9th gen Comet Lake CPUs. The Pixelbook featured 7th Gen processors, and the Pixel Slate that debuted in November 2018 bore 8th gen CPUs, so Google's adoption of the current generation of Intel processors with Hatch wouldn't come as a surprise. Nor would a backlit keyboard.
Hatch seems to have few remaining mysteries to explore. Like we said at the start, that's probably not ideal for the PR department tasked with handling the device's announcement. But it's good news for those who don't mind spending upwards of $1,000--which is where Pixelbook pricing started and Pixel Slate pricing quickly ends up once you factor in the keyboard and modest CPU upgrade--on a well-wrapped web browser.