CES 2020 is just around the corner and we’re getting final preparations in order for the week-long trip to the desert in search of new Chrome OS devices. CES has long been a hit-or-miss venue for new Chromebooks, but when it has hit, it has hit big. In 2017 we were lucky enough to be on hand for the debut of the Samsung Chromebook Plus and Pro from the stage at Samsung’s keynote. That same year, ASUS also debuted the Flip C302 and those devices really set the stage for the next few years of Chromebook development.
The following year was far less impressive and we honestly wandered around the show room looking for things to talk about. Google arrived on the scene ready to tell everyone about the Google Assistant and smart displays were unvelied, but the Chromebook showing that year was pretty sparse. Only the Acer Chromebook 11 from Acer was on hand and it was far from a show-stopper.
2019’s CES came with a few notable surprises like the AMD-powered devices from Acer and HP, but the most notable reveal was in the ASUS booth with the Chromebook Flip C434. As we all know now, that device would go on to become arguably the best Chromebook of 2019 in many respects and further push the Chromebook market forward with slick design, fast internals, and the narrowest bezel we’ve seen on a Chromebook to date.
What We Expect In 2020
I’ll break this down into two sections: devices we’re banking on being there and devices that could show up and surprise us. Without doubt, this is likely going to be the most Chromebook-dense CES we’ve attended. In prior years, the new hardware by each Chromebook maker has already launched by this point in the yearly release cycle, so there’s little room for big reveals. This year, however, we had very few flagship Chromebooks released at the end of the year. We know there are tons of devices waiting in the wings, so CES is a great place for these new Chromebooks to start trickling out. Let’s start with those we’re pretty sure on.
SAMSUNG CHROMEBOOK PRO V2: We’ve been tracking a device with the codename ‘Kohaku’ for quite some time and it became clear months ago that this would be a Samsung Chromebook. While we can’t be certain what it will be called, we know a lot about what it will be capable of thanks to all the info we have on ‘Hatch’ – the baseboard ‘Kohaku’ and countless other Chromebooks are based off of.
We’re expecting a stowed stylus, fingerprint scanner, WIFI 6, Bluetooth 5, convertible form factor, 10th-gen Intel silicon, and a very bright display. With the underlying ‘Hatch’ baseboard in development for over a year at this point and the ‘Kohaku’ variant being in development since April of 2019, we are in the perfect window for an unveiling of this Chromebook at CES when Samsung takes the stage Monday evening in Las Vegas.
ASUS CHROMEBOOK FLIP C436: Another entry in the ‘Hatch’ category of upcoming devices is the ASUS Chromebook Flip C436. We’ve previously connected this new Chromebook with the codename ‘Helios’ and the things we expect from this Chromebook are quite similar to what we are hoping to see in the Samsung Chromebook Pro V2. As they are formed off of the same baseboard, expect similar internals and features in a different body than the Samsung.
We have zero doubt that ‘Helios’ is the ASUS Flip C436, but we can’t know 100% for sure that we’ll see it next week. However, if ASUS’ previous CES showings are anything to go by, we fully expect to see it at their booth, though. While other Chromebook makers have been far less predictable in their release schedules, ASUS has been pretty reliable at this point. Unveil in January, launch in early spring, rinse and repeat.
LENOVO CHROME OS TABLET: While we fully expect to see multiple variations of ‘Kukui’ in the coming months, we are very expectant that we’ll encounter the first of these MediaTek 8183 tablets at CES 2020 via Lenovo. One of those devices in particular is ‘Krane’ and we know quite a bit about it at this point, including the fact that a general call for early testers went out a few weeks back. If their past track record with public testing is anything to go by, a 4-6 week release window is in store for the Chrome OS tablet that was delivered to testers
There’s also good reason to believe that ‘Kodama’ is another Lenovo tablet or detachable based on the MediaTek 8183. My guess is we’re looking both at a pure tablet and perhaps a detachable device from Lenovo with pen support and 1st-party keyboard accessories, and I’m betting we see one of each form factor from Lenovo at their booth in Vegas next week.
Some Speculative Hopes
Those are the devices we fully expect to see and I’ll be a bit let down if all of them don’t make it to the show. However, there are a few devices I am hopeful we’ll encounter even if I don’t have hard evidence pointing to them being at the show.
A QUALCOMM CHROMEBOOK: Look, it is getting really old waiting around for Qualcomm to make its move in the Chrome OS arena. We’ve tracked ‘Cheza’ and its Snapdragon 845 for over two years and it seems development may have shifted from that chip and baseboard to a more fitting Snapdragon 7c in the form of ‘Trogdor’ and ‘Bubs’. With this shift, I’m sure there will be some delays, but the groundwork for a Qualcomm Chromebook should be in place and I’m hoping that at least a demo unit or prototype might be on-hand at Qualcomm’s booth at CES 2020.
LENOVO ‘HATCH’ CHROMEBOOK: Lenovo has generally not had much of a presence at CES in the past. This year, they have multiple off-site locations, however, and as we’re expecting a couple MediaTek 8183 tablets, it would only make sense that Lenovo has one of the various ‘Hatch’ devices on hand for us to see as well. The Yoga C630 has been a fantastic Chromebook and a great first entry into the mid-range consumer Chromebook market for Lenovo. They have tons of cheaper Chromebooks as well, winning out in our Best Chromebooks of 2019 for the $0-$300 category. A ‘Hatch’-based Chromebook from Lenovo would be a very welcome arrival.
ASUS MEDIATEK TABLET: ASUS was pretty well outfitted with Chrome OS devices at last year’s CES, so I don’t think it would be that far out of line to expect to see one of the ‘Kukui’ variants like what we expect from Lenovo to arrive from ASUS as well. Last year’s selection of devices had a Rockchip tablet and a few Gemini Lake EDU Chromebooks on display, so there’s no reason to think they wouldn’t have their hands in one of the new MediaTek 8183 devices we’re expecting to appear quite soon.
We have our meetings set and a handful of expectations going in, but I can’t wait to get out to Vegas on Monday and begin hunting for all the things we could possibly see at CES 2020. If only the devices we have pegged for an appearance actually show up, it will be the biggest CES for us yet. I have a sneaking suspicion there will be even more than we expect, and we’re very excited to head out and report back on all the things we find throughout the week. Stay tuned and subscribe to the newsletter below so you don’t miss a beat!