2014 has already been an eventful year for Chromebooks and the signs are that 2015 is going to be just an interesting. We've seen manufacturers trying alternative processors, from the Nvidia Tegra K1 to the Intel Core i3 as well as the established Samsung Exynos processors and Intel Celeron units. We've also seen rumors that other manufacturers are to introduce processors to the market including Rockchip, Lenovo and Acer. A report today points that when Rockchip enters the Chromebook market, it will encourage other Chinese manufacturers to introduce their own designs. These Chinese manufacturers will help fill a vacuum in the market for locally produced, good quality, inexpensive Chromebooks. Two companies that have been linked with bringing Chromebooks to the market are BYD and Bitland. These businesses typically don't make complete devices to sell themselves, instead they manufacturer products for businesses such as ASUS, Lenovo and Acer. Currently, most Chromebooks are made by one of two businesses: Quantal Computer or Compal Electronics. Adding more original device manufacturers should mean cheaper prices, better availability and increased diversification in the hardware.
It's this diversification that brings me to my next point, which is the rumor that Acer is working on a convertible Chromebook. We don't know much about the device other than we believe it'll have a 11.6-inch touchscreen and a cover that allows the device to convert itself between Chromebook and Chrome... tablet? The convertible Chromebook is to be manufactured by Quanta Computers, one of the new manufacturers that we believe are getting in on the scene. Until now, convertible Chromebooks have not made it to the market because it's tough to get the costs for hinges and touchscreens down to a price that allows Acer to sell the device for $199. With this in mind, it's likely that the Acer convertible Chromebook will sell for more than $199, just as the Thinkpad Yoga 11e is more than twice this price. We do, however, expect the Acer to be cheaper than the Thinkpad.
The concept of a Chrometablet it something that I've thought about for some time, but I like my hardware keyboard and wouldn't want to do without it. I'm not a long term user of Chrome OS but it's quickly become my go-to device for a multitude of uses; in actual fact I'm writing this piece on my battered Samsung Chromebook Series 3. I can see how a touchscreen could be useful with the device, especially as Android applications are introduced to the Chrome OS platform. To my mind, it's a logical step from here to include a convertible chassis and make the keyboard optional. Acer's focus on keeping the price down together with the promise of more manufacturers getting in on the act is a good thing for the niche Google are carving out in the budget end of the laptop market.