Acer has announced a rather interesting product – a tablet. But it’s not just any tablet, because it’s not running Windows 10 or Android. It isn’t even really running Linux, even though technically it is Linux under the hood. It’s running Google’s ChromeOS platform, and that’s something that wasn’t expected. ChromeOS has typically been found on mini desktop computers or netbooks, and while it has had touch capabilities, it hasn’t been that effective at promoting that input. Along comes Acer with a tablet to solve that problem.
It’s officially called the Chromebook Tab 10, and it’s geared for education as part of Google’s recent ChromeOS for Education drive. It’s no coincidence that Google and Acer are jointly announcing the Chromebook Tab on Tuesday, of all days. Apple’s Education Event took place in a public school hall in Chicago, Illinois on the same day, and it too was all fired up about the use of technology in education, along with the launch of a new 9.7-inch iPad geared towards education and the use of a stylus. Because the Chromebook Tab 10 is running ChromeOS, schools and tertiary institutions that make use of a Chrome Educational license are able to provision and prepare these devices quickly and easily.
The tablet is quite small, featuring a 9.7-inch IPS display that boasts a resolution of 2048 x 1536 pixels. If you have aspect ratios burned into your hippocampus, you’ll recognise that as a 4:3 aspect ratio, designed to mimic the physical dimensions of a size A4 sheet of paper. That resolution makes for a 264 ppi display, which is pretty much going to be tack-sharp for any use case. It weighs 550g, comes with a 2MP front-facing webcam for video conferencing through Google Hangouts, promises a battery life of nine hours (no mention of whether this is nine hours of screen-on time or not), and a bundled Wacom EMR stylus. The bundled stylus is a major talking point here, because ChromeOS doesn’t exactly have a lot of touch interfaces for Google’s services on touch-enabled Chromebooks, even though a stylus has been used in ChromeOS devices before.
Internally, the Chromebook Tab 10 runs off the OP1 SoC, an octa-core processor manufactured by the China-based Rockchip, a fabless design company that has been licensing the OP1 into consumer devices like the Samsung Chromebook Plus. It has 4GB of RAM to work with, 32GB of on-board storage, and there’s an optional microSD card slot to increase the storage for keeping photos, documents, and videos on the device. Connectivity includes a USB 3.1 Gen 1 Type-C connector for data and charging, Bluetooth 4.1, 802.11ac WiFi with MIMO capability, and a headphone jack.
Acer says the Chromebook Tab 10 will be available to education and commercial customers in May 2018, with a starting price of R4,999. It will be competing against Apple’s new iPad with Pencil compatibility for around the same price. Acer says that there’s planned support for Google Expeditions AR for immersive learning experiences, and Google I/O is scheduled for 8-10 May 2018. Google is expected to announce new changes to ChromeOS to accommodate new devices like Acer’s.