Out of nowhere, ‘Coachz’ has completely managed to capture my imagination when we start talking about upcoming Chromebooks. As I’ve stated many times before, I’m still hopeful that a device will eventually come along that can serve as both a great tablet and a competent desktop Chromebook for actual work. As I type this on my very-powerful Acer Chromebook Spin 713, I’m fully aware of the fact that I can push this Chromebook as hard as I choose and don’t really have to worry about slow downs or performance issues when I do so. But as a tablet-type device, it is never really in the conversation. Sure, I use some of the converting modes from time to time, but generally this is my work-mode laptop.
On the flip of that equation is something like the Lenovo Chromebook Duet that has a great overall size and weight, making it more ideal for media consumption and lean-back activities while on the couch. Both of my kids have one for school and I’ll grab them from time to time to check out a few things and I really do love casually using that little tablet as Chrome OS keeps getting more refined for tablets. It doesn’t take long to remember how under-powered everything is on that tablet, though, and I’m left wanting just a bit more performance and fully aware that any attempts to really get a full day’s work done on it wouldn’t be very enjoyable.
‘Coachz’ could be the tablet for me…and for you
That’s why I’m so excited to share more details I’ve uncovered for ‘Coachz’ today. If you’ve not read about it already, we have previously covered the fact that this upcoming Chromebook is a detachable tablet, bears the Snapdragon 7c processor, and has the ability to leverage both wireless charging and reverse wireless charging. Finally, just yesterday, we uncovered the possibility that ‘Coachz’ may recharge its USI pen in a similar way to the iPad Pro. Today, however, I have some details that more-clearly fill in the picture of what ‘Coachz’ will be as a device.
Screen size and resolution
Let’s start with the screen. Screens on tablets matter in a different way than they matter on laptops. On laptops, we’re really just after a good resolution, brightness, and viewing angles. On a tablet, we want all that, but we also need the size to be right. Too big and the tablet feels like you just took off the display from a laptop. Too small and you can’t get a ton of work done on it.
Personally, I think the iPad Pro or iPad Air both do a good job with this. At just around 11-inches with a boxier display than most laptops (they sit between 4:3 and 3:2), you can squeeze in a nearly full-size keyboard and still feel like you have just enough screen real estate to get some tasks done. Our current tablets in the Chrome OS space sit on both sides of this right now. We have the Pixel Slate that is a tad too big at 12.3-inches and the Lenovo Duet that is a tad (just a tad) too small for longer work sessions at 10.1-inches. Wouldn’t an 11-inch 3:2 screen be just right?
I think so, and this is exactly what is being added to ‘Coachz’ right now. If you check out the language in this commit you can see the exact screen being added (BOE NV110WTM-N61) and, when you look it up, you’ll find a screen that is 2160×1440 that measures in at 233mm x 155mm. I’ll save you the time and calculations, but that resolution with those dimensions gives us an 11-inch screen at QHD resolutions with a 3:2 aspect ratio. Literally exactly what I would want in a tablet/Chromebook combo!
A bit about form factor and a kickstand
Next up, we have another first for Chromebooks in the addition of a kickstand as part of the physical device. While devices like the Lenovo Duet have attachable kickstands and the Pixel Slate’s case acts as a pseudo-kickstand, no Chromebook has come with one attached. There aren’t a ton of devices that do this even in the PC laptop world, so I’m hopeful the iteration we get performs well. Microsoft has pioneered the built-in kickstand and basically perfected it. While I don’t expect that level of fit and finish, I’m hopeful that the built-in tablet kickstand has been around in other devices long enough to be pretty decent on this Chromebook.
If you look at the commit language around this kickstand, there is a detail that doesn’t make any sense to me at this point. I’m sure it will come in useful, but I’m not sure how this would work. Check it out:
Coachz: Detect kickstand position and notify body proximity
Implement the kickstand hall sensor interrupts and the signal debouncing. Use the kickstand position to approach the human body proximity and update the EC_MKBP_FRONT_PROXIMITY event to kernel.via the Chromium Gerrit
I’m completely unsure how the kickstand position could help to detect proximity to the human body. I’ve thought about it a bit and can’t make sense of that. But, if the kickstand has sensors inside that can inform things like what mode to put the tablet in or something similar, this could be useful. Either way, we’re clearly looking at a tablet with a built-in kickstand, and that will be pretty sweet.
We have the code name of the keyboard
Finally, we have the code name of the keyboard that will accompany this new, kickstand-toting tablet. ‘Zed’ is an offshoot of the main detachable keyboard for Chromebooks: ‘Hammer’. Basically every detachable keyboard ever made for a Chromebook has come from this line of devices, so don’t expect much different, here. For what it’s worth, the attaching and detecting of keyboards for Chromebooks has never really been an issue. The Pixel Slate and Duet work as well as you would expect, so we can easily assume that ‘Coachz’ will behave in much the same way as those other devices.
With all this in place, we have a very, very good picture of what ‘Coachz’ will be like when it does arrive at some point in 2021. Assuming this thing is thin (being ARM-powered means it should be), I love every other thing we’re seeing with this one. I think a 3:2 11-inch high-res screen is the right size for a tablet that can get some work done and I love having the kickstand as part of the main tablet, too. With a decent keyboard, clip-on USI pen and good performance thanks to the Snapdragon 7c inside, this Chromebook could be a formidable combination of all the right stuff. While I’m excited by a lot of Chromebooks on the horizon, I’m most anticipating ‘Coachz’ at this point.