The Samsung Chromebook Plus V2 with LTE is by no means the first cellular-enabled Chrome device to come to market. There was Google’s Chromebook Pixel (2013), the HP Chromebook 14 (w/4G, not LTE. Also, my first Chromebook. Loved it.) and an obscure ASUS 300 model that I’ve never actually seen in the flesh. Out of the three, the HP was probably the most popular due to its low cost and free 200MB of free monthly data compliments of T-Mobile.
Sadly, these devices never gained real traction in the market for a number of reasons. The cost of data at the time and just a simple lack of demand for an “always connected” device were a big portion of those reasons.
Five years later, the entire mobile computing ecosystem has undergone a major facelift. Android tablets are on life support and users are on the hunt for all-in-one devices that can serve as a desktop, laptop, tablet and beyond. In order to do so, connectivity is key.
Samsung’s first attempt at an LTE-enabled Chromebook is tethered to a partnership with Verizon. While I’m sure that is a lucrative collaboration for the two giants, a lot of users like myself would like to see more options. Specifically, carrier unlocked Chromebooks that will run on a data SIM card from the mobile provider of your choosing.
With that being said, it looks like more options may be headed our way.
You may have forgotten and I wouldn’t blame you but back in January, Acer announced their lineup of new Apollo Lake educational devices that offered not only rugged durability but an optional LTE model. Alas, we have yet to see the C732-LT variant of the Chromebook 11 appear.
That very device may soon come to market and along with it some more LTE-enabled Chromebooks built off of the same Apollo Lake baseboard.
chromeos-config-bsp-coral: specify modem firmware variants
In the coral family, astronaut and blacktiplte use different modem firmware. This CL specifies the modem firmware variant in the astronaut and blacktiplte config.
Coral is the baseboard for all Chromebooks utilizing the Apollo Lake N3350 and N3450 chipsets and Astronaut just happens to be the Acer Chromebook C732. “BlacktipLTE” will be a variant of a current white label device. For those unfamiliar, white label devices are produced by one manufacturer to be branded for other companies. One such example from Chromebook land was the Braswell device “Wizpig.” The 11.6″ convertible was branded by a number of different companies including CTL, Viglen and Haier. All of the devices are essentially the same sans the branding and in some cases, minor tweaks from the OEM.
The “Blacktip” board is no different. It is listed as a white label device and is the board in CTL’s latest convertible and will likely be used by other brands that decide to market Apollo Lake EDU Chromebooks.
Unfortunately, all of this means that these could very well be Chromebooks that are headed to the education sector. Great for schools but not so much for the average consumer.
Thankfully, many of these white label devices are made available via resellers and other channels such as Amazon after their initial release. Being that these devices will be marketed to educational institutions, it is my sincere hope that they will be carrier unlocked so that schools can pick the mobile data plans best for their region and budget.
I, for one, am glad to see LTE coming to more Chromebooks. Granted, there aren’t a ton of places you can go in the US that you won’t find some form of a WIFI connection but I know my old HP Chromebook 14 with mobile data came in handy on more than one occasion when I just need to jump online for a quick minute. With Chrome OS’s expanding capabilities, “always connected” just makes sense.
Source: Chromium Repository