If you thought Google’s Chrome OS-toting laptop wannabe’s were dirt cheap, then wait for MediaTek to join the club. Recent commits to the open source Chromium source code revealed a MediaTek employee adding support for what could be a Chromebook running on its chips. But the question is, of course, whether it will actually be worth the price.
The current roster of Chromebooks are a mixed breed, with both ARM and x86, represented, the former mostly by Samsung’s Exynos and the latter by Intel’s whole range. For some reason, Qualcomm has not yet dipped its toes into this device line, probably not seeing much market demand for the Chromebook. Whatever its reason may be, its absence is an opportunity for rival MediaTek to make a name for itself there. A certain Nathan Chung from MediaTek submitted several patches that add support for a certain “moose board”. Considering the context, it is speculated that this would be signs of an upcoming Chromebook powered by one of MediaTek’s chips, usually the cheaper but less powerful option for OEMs.
This would somewhat be the opposite direction that Acer took recently. Last week, the manufacturer launched its Chromebook C720 series. What makes this Intel-powered device a bit interesting is that it trades power for price. Instead of a mobile Intel Atom or Celeron chip, it has a desktop-grade Haswell Core i3 inside, giving the configuration a bit more power than is normal for a Chromebook. That said, the price is also boosted, going up to $349.99 for a 2 GB RAM model.
MediaTek, on the other hand, is both famous and infamous for its cheap prices. It has allowed OEMs to put lower price tag than their competitors. Unfortunately, MediaTek’s real-world performance hasn’t exactly been impressive, though definitely not worse than other and even much cheaper brands. The low-powered budget Chromebooks might almost be a perfect fit for MediaTek, but Google has already shown that it plans to give the device line more things to do and it remains to be seen if MediaTek’s chips will be up to the task. That said, there is also that mysterious MediaTek chip that could pretty much blow many of its rivals out of the water, but that too has yet to materialize.