It’s been about six months since news of the existence of the first-ever Qualcomm-powered Chromebook codenamed ‘Cheza’ surfaced. Though a few new details have emerged lately about this unreleased device, we’ve known about its existence for some time now. Since that unveiling all the way back in December, we’ve not seen much in the way of details about what we’re hoping to see from this one.
However, this has changed in the past few days thanks to some sleuthing from Kevin Tofel over at aboutchromebooks.com. In their findings, we have a few juicy nuggets that should help whet the appetites of some of you clamoring for the first high-end ARM Chromebook.
First up is the display. We’re seeing some references to a monitor being used for testing that comes in at QHD resolution (2560×1440) and, from a slew of current-gen smartphones out there, we can rest assured the Snapdragon 845 in ‘Cheza’ is more than capable of pushing all those pixels. This is likely (and hopefully) just a testing resolution for now, however, as it seems the trend in Chromebooks is now skewing towards the 16:10 and/or 3:2 aspect ratios.
The main thing we can glean from this test panel is that Chromebooks powered by the Snapdragon 845 are going to come equipped with high-res screens, and that is a good thing.
Second, we see clear references to this device being detachable. This comes as no surprise given Qualcomm’s latest forays into detachable, always-connected Windows devices right now. We’d expect the strategy for Chrome OS to be similar. Light, thin, battery-sipping devices that can go anywhere and do most anything. Though we see some performance issues on Windows with the Snapdragon 835, there’s little reason to doubt the 845 chipset will simply fly with Chrome OS.
The 845 is quite a bit faster than last year’s 835 and we also have to keep in mind that Windows must run in an emulated state to work with the ARM chips. That clearly is not the case for Chromebooks where Chrome OS can run natively on ARM hardware.
Oh, and don’t forget how at-home Android apps feel with the Snapdragon chips, either. We fully expect the performance of this chip to feel very speedy, indeed.
There are some other references to USB Type-C ports, but that is almost a foregone conclusion with Chromebooks at this point, so that’s not really a big deal.
A Couple Things To Note
First, from what we are seeing so far, we are inclined to think ‘Cheza’ is a reference device. Sure, it may get made, but the likelihood is we’ll see plenty of devices that get based off of this baseboard. Consider ‘Kevin’ from late in 2016. That board was used for the Samsung Chromebook Plus, ASUS Chromebook Flip C101, and the Acer Chromebook Tab 10. It would make sense to see ‘Cheza’ follow the same type of development path, spawning multiple devices from the same Snapdragon 845 board.
Second, according to sources familiar with this matter, we know we won’t see a production device in 2018. While that is a bummer, from what we’re seeing so far, Qualcomm is taking the time needed to get this right. Since we’re likely to see always-connected devices come from the ‘Cheza’ baseboard just like we see in phones and the current ARM-powered Windows devices, Qualcomm needs to make sure the overall experience is on par with the flagship Android phone/tablet experience their chips normally ship in. I think it is worth taking the time to get everything just right.
We’ve talked before about the importance of Qualcomm getting into the Chromebook market, and I’m probably even more excited by this now. However, as much anticipation as I have at this point, I’m very hopeful they nail it with the first device that shows up on the scene with a top-tier ARM processor. Qualcomm and whoever builds the device(s) that houses this board have a chance to do something very special in this space.
If it all goes well, I think this could be a MASSIVE step forward for the entire platform: devices that are always connected, slim, light and have massive battery life sound like fantastic additions to the evolving Chrome OS ecosystem.
Who knows…maybe we’ll see something at CES in January? My fingers are crossed. We’ll keep digging around ‘Cheza’ and as we learn more, we’ll be sure to share!