In all of our excitement surrounding ‘Geralt’ – the MediaTek MT8188-based Chromebook tablet development board – I completely missed the beginnings of yet another tablet-based ChromeOS device right under my nose. Code named ‘Starmie’, this new Chromebook development board is clearly a detachable, is coming with MediaTek’s newer entry-level Kompanio 520 inside, and from the early clues we have thus far, it may be made by ASUS.
‘Starmie’ is clearly a tablet and based on the Kompanio 520
First and foremost, I’m excited to see another tablet development branch in the repositories. While I think those devices built off of ‘Geralt’ will be more compelling thanks to the MT8188’s much faster processing cores, smaller tablets at lower price points will still be interesting with the Kompanio 520/528 inside. And for reference, we’ve known for some time that the MT8186 is actually the new Kompanio 520.
We’ve still yet to get one of these new devices in the office for testing, but our hands-on time with the ASUS Chromebook CM14 Flip was impressive for multiple reasons, and one of those was the speed of the device. We’ve not run benchmarks or put one of these devices under real stress, but I’m sure the upgrade over the existing Kompanio 500 Chromebooks will be substantial.
From the commit above, it is clear that ‘Starmie’ is being developed as a detachable device, and there are even clues that it is borrowing a bit from ‘Geralt’ to make this happen. As we saw with the original Kompanio 500, the 520 looks to be pulling double-duty as a standard Chromebook processor and a tablet-based one as well.
It may be made by ASUS
Here’s the part where I make an educated guess: this device may be the follow up to the ASUS Chromebook CM3 Detachable. Maybe. The new ASUS CM14 and CM14 Flip Chromebooks are developed side-by-side as ‘Tentacool’ and ‘Tentacruel’, and this new ‘Starmie’ device is in the same boat alongside ‘Staryu’.
Commits around both of these devices have Huaqin emails attached, and though Huaqin builds devices for many companies, one of those is most definitely ASUS. With ‘Geralt’ clearly looking bound to spawn a Lenovo tablet in the near future, my money is on ASUS to be building both ‘Staryu’ and ‘Starmie’ as follow-ups to the CM3 convertible and tablet. I unfortunately don’t have a ton more to go on at this point, but this makes the most sense at the moment.
Regardless, there is at least one new MediaTek Kompanio 520 tablet in the works to join in with the devices we hope to see from the work on ‘Geralt’ and the MediaTek MT8188-powered tablets on the way. Where we once thought Chromebook tablets were a dying breed, it seems there’s quite a bit more life left in them, and that’s a very good thing. We’ll keep an eye out for how this all progresses.