More details are beginning to emerge about an upcoming start to the next generation of Chrome OS tablets with two gadgets built on a MediaTek foundation and meant for the mid-range segment of the market, reports Chrome Unboxed. Initially spotted under development in the Chromium code repositories back in summer of last year, there now appear to be two such devices listed under the codename ‘Flapjack’, under the reference board 'Kukui'.
The first of those, discovered in a file that’s typically unique to MediaTek devices as compared to Intel or AMD counterparts, highlights a 10-inch SKU. Details on that display panel are comparatively thin on the ground but it does appear that it will be similar to the remaining SKU for Flapjack in terms of resolution and screen ratio, based on a quick Google search for the component identifier.
More succinctly, both the 8-inch and 10-inch SKUs appear to be centered around a Himax-built 1200 x 1920 display with a mobile-like display ratio of 16:10.
The OEM behind the devices themselves is also now thought to be Huaqin, which has generally shied away from Chrome OS gadgets with one exception in 2015 -- released more than three years ago under the Haier branding. The company did take part in a keynote centered around 5G at MWC. So there is a slim chance the new Chromebooks may launch with mobile connectivity on board but there’s no indication as to which brand they may be launched under or when.
As mentioned above, the first instances of Kukui and Flapjack emerged back toward the middle of 2018. There was no apparent indication that the codename pointed to two tablets but details were present regarding the chipset that would serve to drive Chrome OS and performance with Flapjack. Specifically, that's going to be a MediaTek-made octa-core MT8183 SoC and initial information about that chip shows a lot of promise based on prior reports.
The chip in question features double the cores found in MediaTek's prior Chromebook-designated offering and two more than the OP1-rated RockChip rk3399 in Samsung's original Chromebook Plus. The SoC's four ARM Cortex-A53 cores and four Cortex-A73 cores should, in fact, position it in such a way as to be competitive -- or close to it -- with Samsung's newer Chromebook Plus v2.
The previous MediaTek chipset for Chrome OS was serviceable but with the addition of Linux support for the components in late 2018 and at a much higher performance ratio, the new chip should drive far greater productivity and usability. That should also be available to a wider audience in the tablet space at a fraction of the cost of Intel and AMD counterparts too.
Releasing into a relatively empty field, with near-perfect timing
The biggest benefit that Flapjack and any other devices that end up being built on the Kukui platform will have may come down to the timing of their eventual release. For the time being, with the exception of HP's Chromebook x2, there aren't any tablets that occupy the mid-range portion of the Chrome OS market for consumers. There are also only one or two in the education segment that aren't available to the general populace.
Comparatively, one of the only other options for consumers is Google's own budget-end Pixel Slate -- starting at $599 with Intel's most recent Celeron Processor, 4GB RAM, and 32GB storage. The Pixel Slate's 3000 x 2000 12.3-inch molecular display panel, all-metal build, and fingerprint scanner will still set it apart but the new Flapjack devices will undoubtedly launch at a lower price point.
At the other end of the spectrum is Acer's Chromebook Tab 10, occupying a similar size to the larger of the two Flapjack devices. While capable in its own right, that $276.99 offering -- from Newegg -- also features the above-mentioned RockChip chipset with just two higher-specced ARM Cortex-A72 cores and four of the more efficient Cortex-A53 cores.
The display is in Acer's device is slightly higher resolution than the new Chrome OS tablets at 2048 x 1536 but the memory is an older 4GB LPDDR3 coupled with 32GB of storage, which should help set the upcoming Flapjack gadgets apart.