It wasn’t long ago that I came across some info in the Chromium Gerrit that pointed to a new ASUS Chromebook tablet likely on the way. Those findings – centralized around two boards code-named ‘Staryu’ and ‘Starmie’ – had me convinced at the time that ASUS was working on a new detachable device with the MediaTek Kompanio 520 on the inside. Apart from that, we didn’t know much. Now we do.
ASUS formally announces the Chromebook CM30 Detachable
In a bit of a surprising announcement yesterday, ASUS put out a press release that lightly details a new Chromebook tablet with the MediaTek Kompanio 520 inside. Details are a bit slim at the moment (we’ve reached out to ASUS already), but the news did come along with a few interesting tidbits on the new Chromebook tablet from ASUS.
Size, stylus, and keyboard case
First up, the device will come with a 1920×1200 16:10 10.5-inch display, matching the previous detachable Chromeboook from ASUS in that regard. It also will retain the stowed USI pen as well, giving this tablet a leg up on the current competition. Other Chromebook tablets work with USI pens, but none come with an included, stowed pen solution like ASUS provides.
And the stand portion of this tablet is also included and going for a totally different vibe this time around. None of the photos in ASUS’ press release show this, but the back and casing are described as being made with a ‘leatherette’ materiel, so the cloth-like stand and keyboard cover from last time around won’t be joining us this time. Additionally, the keyboard is listed as ‘optional’, so this could be the first consumer-facing Chromebook in a while that will ship sans-keyboard. If it gets the price way down, it could be a good decision. If not, I think this is a terrible idea.
Internal storage, RAM, and battery life
On a more positive note, ASUS did give us a few internal specs, including the fact that the new CM30 Detachable will come equipped with 8GB of RAM and 128GB of storage. For a device with an entry-level processor in the Kompanio 520, that’s a great move. We’ve tested a couple of these Kompanio 520 devices, and while the performance is better than the Kompanio 500 that came before, it’s still not what I’d refer to as fast. Those devices had only 4GB of RAM, though, so I’ll be very interested to see if double the RAM helps performance out a bit.
In the battery department, ASUS is claiming 12 hours of usage, though we’ll obviously need to test that out down the road. With the MediaTek Kompanio 520, part of the benefit should be eternal-like battery life on a thin device, and if the ASUS Chromebook CM30 Detachable pushes towards that 12-hour mark, it will make the trade-off in performance well worth it.
Plenty of questions still left to answer
For now, however, that’s all we know for sure. Pretty big questions linger, however, and the answer to those questions will weigh heavy on whether or not ASUS can find success in this market segment this time around. The CM3 Detachable was a bit late to the game and simply didn’t offer any upside when compared to the incumbent champion Lenovo Duet at the time.
But answering questions about price, availability, screen brightness, performance, keyboard price, and build quality will have a substantial impact on the overall reception of this device. If we get a standard ASUS build quality level on this device with a reasonable price tag (sub-$400 with the keyboard), I think there’s room for a device like this in the market for sure.
The tough part will be the existing competition. With the Lenovo Chromebook Duet 3 being a very similar device, the new ASUS CM30 will need to offer something that device currently doesn’t. From a performance standpoint, the Kompanio 520 isn’t as fast as the outgoing Snapdragon 7c Gen 2 found in the current Duet 5 and Duet 3, but it isn’t too far off. Giving users 8GB of RAM will help and if the stylus and keyboard get included for nearly the same price, I think ASUS might be in a good spot. But those questions need to be answered for sure, and I’d bet we won’t really know much more until CES in January. Stay tuned.