With all the buzz around Chrome OS Flex the past week or so, you can forgive me for dreaming a bit about all sorts of hardware with Chrome OS on board. We’ve obviously been tinkering with putting Chrome OS on all sorts of stuff (more content coming on that front soon) with Chrome OS Flex, and that has put me in the mindset of looking at different devices and pondering what they would be like as Chromebooks.
With Samsung’s latest Unpacked event, the company unveiled some pretty sweet new tablets to add to their always-evolving Galaxy Tab S series. These tablets are basically the last vestige of high-end Android tablets that you can buy, and I’d assume Samsung sells quite a few of them as they continue spending research, advertising and development dollars on making new ones each year.
For this year’s additions, we got the largest Galaxy Tab yet in the form of the Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra, coming in at 14.6-inches with a 16:10 aspect ratio, this SAMOLED screen will look amazing for all sorts of content with a sharp resolution and inky black levels as well. For content consumption, this size is great all around, and a 16:10 14.6-inch screen would be great for work if the underlying OS was more suited to it. At this point, Android is still ill-suited for real-world desktop work, and no amount of sweet hardware is going to fix that.
Chrome OS with this hardware would soar
Simply adding Chrome OS to this mix would drastically change things. Yes, I know there still needs to be some work done on both the Android app front and on the smoothness of tablet mode on Chromebook tablets, but have you used tablet mode on a high-end Intel device lately? Those are generally in the form of a convertible, but moving around the tablet interface when there is enough processing power under the hood is actually quite fun.
Add to this the fact that Android apps run really well on ARM-based Chromebooks and you have a pretty good recipe for a great tablet experience overall for those looking to leverage Android apps if we were to see Chrome OS on the Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra hardware. Then, when you want to use that larger-than-usual screen to actually get some work done, you can slap on the keyboard and enjoy the Chrome OS desktop interface and the desktop browser that comes along with it.
As it stands, on the Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra, your desktop experience is the standard Android interface or Dex, and because you’re bound to Android apps without the benefit of a desktop-class browser, the laptop side of any Android tablet – including this wildly-powerful one from Samsung – will always be a bit limited. Does that mean you can’t get anything done at all? Of course not, but I’ve tried a few Android tablets that want to try and be laptop replacements, and it just doesn’t quite pan out for a multitude of reasons.
Will Samsung ever make a Chrome OS tablet?
So, what will it take to see a Samsung Galaxy Tab Chromebook? I’m not sure at this point, but I have a very hard time imagining Samsung hasn’t thought of this already. While they’ve cooled their jets a bit on the Chromebook front of late, I can’t imagine they aren’t considering at least something with the Snapdragon 7c+ Gen 3 that we know is coming to Chromebooks eventually.
I’d love to see them work with MediaTek to launch a Samsung Chromebook tablet with the Kompanio 1380 inside, but there’s no indication of that happening at the moment. Samsung does use MediaTek chips in their phones for a handful of markets, so its not out of the question. Either way, I’d love to see a tablet with the fit, finish and features of the Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra running Chrome OS at some point in the future with a fast chipset under the hood.
The current kicker, however, is really the price point. Right now, the Tab S8 Ultra is $1200 and that doesn’t include the keyboard. Yikes! While people will possible buy this big tablet for that price, there’d be wild push-back if it was shipping as a Chromebook instead. The reasons for that are quite varied – and equally silly – but the truth is Chromebook tablets have never commanded that sort of price tag: even if they are actually more capable.
While I don’t see a Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra Chromebook in the cards anytime soon, I do think Samsung should be considering something like it. They clearly have a vested interest in making tablets that are well-crafted and consistent in their release cycle. Why not make one of them with Chrome OS instead and see how it goes? Some tablets have big success in this space and Lenovo could probably speak the most to this truth. Their Duet Chromebooks fly off shelves, and I think Samsung could do something equally well. We’re certainly hoping they do.