Rockchip SoC powers $149 Chromebooks, sub-$100 dongle

— 6:00 AM on April 1, 2015

A quad-core Rockchip SoC has landed in a bunch of budget Chrome devices. The RK3288 clocks 32-bit Cortex-A17 CPU cores up to 1.8GHz alongside a reasonably potent Mali-T760 GPU. Rockchip claims the integrated design enables smaller circuit boards and lower system costs, and that seems to be reflected in the price of devices powered by the chip. The cheapest one is Asus' Chromebit dongle, which will sell for "less than $100."

This thumb-drive-sized device plugs into an HDMI port, just like Amazon's Fire TV dongle and Intel's Windows-powered Compute Stick. It's due this summer and will likely end up splitting the difference between the $39 Amazon and $149 Intel alternatives.

Chromebook shoppers can now choose between a couple of 11.6" clamshells with $149 price tags. Amazon is offering a Haier-branded unit, while Wal Mart has a similar Hisense one that's oddly listed with a 2.5GHz CPU clock. I'm not sure I trust Wal Mart to provide accurate SoC specs, so let's assume that's an error.

Later this spring, the Rockchip SoC will hit a Yoga-style Asus convertible called the Chromebook Flip. This system is equipped with a touch screen, and it's only 15 mm thick. Asking price: $249.

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