CES 2024 is here in full force, but we’re clearly not out in Vegas this year for the festivities. Thanks to Asus, however, we got our hands on their latest Chromebook tablet – the Chromebook CM30 Detachable – well before its official release. So, let’s jump in the box and get into the good and the bad with the ASUS’ latest stab at a detachable Chromebook.
Upgraded build quality
First up, we have to talk about the upgraded materials ASUS went with in the CM30 versus the CM3 that preceded it. Gone is the faux cloth that outfitted the CM3, replaced by a soft-touch, velvety material that covers the back stand plate and the keyboard. It feels great and looks really nice, too. Meanwhile the cool gray aluminum unibody feels premium and sturdy when you take off the kickstand and keyboard. All around, this device feels and looks incredible.
The magnets are all cleaned up as well, with each of the pieces clicking into place with a sturdy, confident connection. Both the back plate and keyboard align themselves quite well and you don’t have to worry about things sliding all over the place like we saw in the previous CM3 detachable. Well done on these upgrades, ASUS.
Improved keyboard cover
The keyboard is also a place where ASUS really improved things. The 1.5mm key travel is fantastic, the trackpad is smooth and clicky, and I’d say this keyboard/trackpad combo in the cover is one of the best we’ve seen in the ChromeOS space. With tablet keyboard covers, you expect flimsy build quality, mediocre keyframes, and lousy trackpads. Thankfully, none of those things are true with the CM30.
Display, ports, internals
The 16:10 1920×1200 11-inch IPS display is crisp and bright (400 nits) with punchy colors and plenty of sharpness. But it isn’t perfect. The brightness uniformity isn’t great, and if you tilt the screen off-axis in any direction, you’ll notice significant shifts in brightness. Colors don’t shift at all, but the brightness change off-angle is definitely noticeable. It’s not a deal-breaker, but it’s something to be aware of for sure.
Under the hood, the CM30 packs a MediaTek Kompanio 520 processor, 8GB of RAM, and 128GB of storage. Don’t expect to blow away benchmarks or run Photoshop like a champ. This is a Chromebook made for everyday tasks, browsing the web, watching videos, and maybe some light document editing. I’d imagine if you keep it to one or two concurrent tasks, you’ll be in good shape.
On the outside, there’s not much to talk about. We have a single USB Type-C port and a headphone/mic jack. It’s a small tablet, after all, so a USB-C dock is almost an understood necessity for any external monitor work on the desk. And the CM30 is basically exactly what you’d expect with those two speaker ports, too. They are small, lack bass, are quite tinny, and are in the exact spot your palms tend to rest. Thankfully, the headphone jack is still here on this one, so I’d recommend hooking up other audio devices to this tablet if you plan on watching more than a YouTube video or two.
Tucked away neatly at the top is a nifty stowed stylus. It’s flat and comfortable to hold, and it works like a charm. While you can use your existing USI pens with this device, it’s always nice to have one always with you when you need it. This rechargeable pen will do the trick if you need to call on it.
5MP cameras – same ChromeOS camera
The 5MP cameras on both the front and back are pretty standard decent if fed enough light. They’ll be solid for video calls, but don’t expect to capture award-winning shots with them. Shooting into a dark space, the image looks pretty terrible. But I was able to manage a reasonably-sharp photo in the video when pointing the rear camera at an object with plenty of light on it. For scanning a document or a reference photo, it’ll do just fine.
For now, that’s all we can say about this one. Of course, this is just a first look. To truly judge the CM30, we’ll need to spend more time with a final production unit to test the performance, battery life, and see how it holds up to everyday use. Until then, I’m at least very happy with the improvements ASUS has made with the CM30. It has the potential to be a great option for students, casual users, and anyone looking for a portable Chromebook on a budget.