It’s really difficult to say when, or even if, Chrome OS tablets will ever take a firm grasp in the consumer market but that hasn’t stopped OEMs from pushing forward in developing the recent form-factor of our favorite operating system.
For education and casual use, the RockChip-powered 10.1″ tablets from Acer, ASUS and now CTL are ample to get the job done but they certainly have their niche. However, consumers accustomed to the likes of an iPad or Galaxy-type device will be sorely disappointed if that’s their only option for a Chrome OS tablet.
At the other end of the spectrum, you have the Intel Core-based tablet in the form of the HP Chromebook x2 and Google’s Pixel Slate. The latter of which has been greeted with less-than-stellar reviews from the majority of the tech world but let’s be honest, the hardware is top of the line. It is simply up to Chrome OS to catch up to the form-factor before a tablet makes real sense for everyday use.
While we wait for Chrome OS to become truly optimized for tablets, we look to Qualcomm and the mysterious device ‘Cheza’ in the hopes of a tablet that will be worthy of handling both our everyday workflow as well as the leisurely tasks of Android gaming that Snapdragon processors are so well known for handling.
If you own a flagship phone and it doesn’t have a fruit etched in the back of it, chances are good you have a Snapdragon chip inside. We have longed for many a year to see the day that a Chromebook would arrive powered by a Snapdragon processor. That day will be along soon enough but in the meantime, Qualcomm may have some serious competition arriving in the Chrome OS tablet space.
MediaTek has done well in their own right as an Intel alternative in the Chromebook arena. Since the launch of the underrated Acer Chromebook R13, the quad-core ARM-base processor has found its comfort zone in a variety of budget Chromebooks and has done especially well in the education sector thanks to snappy performance at budget pricing.
The next generation MediaTek-powered Chromebooks will likely see some serious performance gains thanks to the octa-core chipset now being used in upcoming devices that are still in the works.
It all began with the addition of the developmental board ‘Kukui’ that brought MediaTek’s new processor to the Chromium Repository and from that baseboard, we saw the birth of a new device codenamed ‘Flapjack’.
As Robby has mentioned in previous articles, ARM devices are a little easier to extract information from thanks to a specific file that is not included in Intel and now AMD Chromebooks. That file will often contain details about a devices form-factor and equally as important, display size and resolution.
It just so happens that we uncovered said file for Flapjack this morning and discovered that not only does it appear to be a tablet, IT COULD BE TWO.
In the commit, Flapjack gets the addition of two display panels with two specific SKU IDs.
Add flapjack board rev3 dts and Makefile.
1. Board ID of P0C and P1 is 3.
2. SKU ID Map: 0: CBI is blank 1: 8 inch flapjack
3: 10 inch flapjack 3.
Display Panel Info hwconfig0: boe,himax8279d10p hwconfig1: boe,himax8279d8p
I haven’t been able to find any information on the 10″ variation but the 8″ panel from Himax is a 16:10, 1200×1920 display. Not my favorite aspect ration but let’s talk about that size. We field a lot of emails asking if, or when, a Chrome OS tablet could arrive that would offer something along the lines of say a Nexus 7 and well, this very well could be it.
Now, before we go getting too excited, there’s always the possibility that hardware specs could change before the device sees the light of day but the fact that developers have specifically added a 10″ and 8″ display is promising that we could see a line of tablets from someone soon.
Speaking of that, who’s making this thing?
That’s a very good question and unfortunately, we don’t have any of our usual suspects to point fingers at because these devices are being manufactured by Huaqin. Never heard of them? You’re not alone. The only Chromebook they’ve ever made was a white label device for Haier back in 2015.
Huaqin’s usual lane is smartphones (they own the phone brand Tenor) and tablets. Just recently they have partnered with major PC makers to create mobile devices in the vein of the Surface Go and such. They were also part of the 5G keynote at the recent MWC in Barcelona.
They certainly sound like they’d be a good fit for making a tablet-first Chromebook and with the increased performance that should come with the MT8183 processor, it could give Qualcomm a run for their money when the Snapdragon finally breaks cover.
We’ll be keeping a close watch on Flapjack in the hopes of discovering who’s behind the curtain but I’ll take a stab and say Lenovo. Maybe? They have done well with MediaTek in their continuing line of 11.6 Chromebooks as well a number of their Android tablets. Only time will tell but whoever it is, we’re excited.Shop Chromebooks On Amazon