The Classroom battle heats up with Acer and Google taking on the iPad with the first education-focused Chrome OS tablet
Acer, one of the most prolific Chromebook brands has now announced its latest Chrome OS-based offering, the Acer Chromebook Tab 10 (D651N). Although this is a device powered by Google's Chrome operating system, it is not a Chromebook, nor is it a Chromebox, or any other form factor that has in the past been associated with Chrome OS. As this is a tablet. Making the Acer Chromebook Tab 10 the first tablet to be announced running Chrome OS. Acer is positioning this model specifically at the education sector which is unlikely to be that surprising considering Chrome OS has gained significantly traction in the classroom over the last couple of years and typically at the expense of iOS. Though one aspect that has remained an issue for Chrome OS is how an iPad is a more portable and classroom-friendly product compared to a typical Chromebook. Yes, there has been a number of 2-in-1s and convertible Chromebooks coming through recently, but the Chromebook Tab 10 is unlike any of them. Making this the ideal option to directly take on the iPad in the classroom.
With the Chromebook Tab 10 aimed towards the education market it does come with a number of classroom-oriented software tweaks, as well as an improved form factor for students compared to traditional Chromebooks. Speaking of the form, one of the additional benefits of the Chromebook Tab 10 is that it is packaged with a Wacom EMR stylus affording users a heightened writing and drawing experience.
Chromebook Tab 10 Display
The display comes in at 4.7-inches and is a QXGA LED-backlit display featuring a 2048 x 1536 resolution and 264 pixels per inch (ppi). This is a higher resolution than what is often found on mass-market Chromebooks and Acer explains this is intentional to ensure the viewing and interaction levels are suitable for students to maximize the learning experience. Likewise, this is a touch-enabled display that has not only been optimized for ten-finger usage, but also tweaked to make use of the included Wacom EMR stylus.
Chromebook Tab 10 Core Specs
In spite of the Chromebook Tab 10 being a tablet, its core specs are very much in line with what one might expect from a premium Chromebook. For example, the Chromebook Tab 10 features 4GB RAM along with 32GB storage. The processor in use is the OP1 and this is important to note as this is a processor that is somewhat aimed towards the Chrome OS market. The OP1 is a six-core processor (dual-core Cortex-A72 and quad-core Cortex-A53) and is essentially the Rockchip RK3399 but without the Rockchip branding. The reason this has become known as a 'Chromebook processor' is due to Google's involvement. For all purposes, OP processors are Google processors and are in-part aimed specifically for use in Chromebooks. In other words, while this is not the most well-known of processors, it is one which is highly tuned to the Chrome OS experience, with the expectation this line of processors will start to become far more commonplace within Chrome OS products in the future. Up until now, the most well-known use case of an OP1 processor is one of the two flagship Chromebooks from Samsung, the Chromebook Plus. The use of an OP1 processor is the difference between the Chromebook Pro and Plus models and what represents the difference in price as the Pro version comes with a currently more name-recognizable processor and therefore a slightly more premium price – though both models offer an almost-identical level of performance. Therefore the inclusion of the OP1 is an important aspect for the Chromebook Tab 10 as not only does it imply this will be a high-performing tablet, but it is likely to be the first tablet announced employing the OP1.
Chromebook Tab 10 Design
This is a tablet and so there is no escaping the generic form factor that is in play here. At the superficial level this is simply another digital slate, though Acer has stated the Chromebook Tab 10 has been designed to be slim and lightweight to ensure it is suitable for the classroom. Whether this is at the individual student level by ensuring the Chromebook Tab 10 is small and slim enough to fit in a school bag, or at the communal level where the tablet is used as a tool that is passed around the room from student to student. In terms of those physical dimensions, Acer has confirmed the Chromebook Tab 10 measures 6.78-inches in width, 9.38-inches in depth, and 0.39-inches in height. While weighing in at 1.21 pounds (550 grams).
Based on the provided images it does seem as though bezels are prominent here although that is likely to play to the device's strength considering this tablet is aimed at the education sector and likely to be used by multiple students during its lifespan. The rear of the device sports what looks to be a textured back plate which will also aid in student-usage by providing an improved level of grip in general. In the bottom right corner of the rear panel there is a small covered 'dock' and this is where the stylus can be stored when not in use.
Chromebook Tab 10 Cameras
With this being a tablet, camera capabilities are certainly not one of the Chromebook Tab 10's main selling points. Although, there are two cameras included for good measure. The first (main) camera can be found on the rear of the device and positioned in the top right corner. This is 5-megapixel camera and one designed to provide users with a way to take images while viewing "through" the tablet. The second camera is positioned on the front of the device and is a 2-megapixel camera, designed to aid in video calling.
Chromebook Tab 10 Connectivity
One of the areas in which the Chromebook Tab 10 will be limited in its number of physical ports. This is inevitable considering the form factor in use and when compared to traditional Chromebooks which have more body to provide more connection points. As a result, the Chromebook Tab 10 sports one single USB port on the side of the device and this is a USB 3.1 Type-C port. While this is physically a newer port (Type-C) Acer has confirmed it is supported by the first-generation 3.1 standard (formerly known as 3.0). This means that while it is not quite as fast as the second-generation solution it is still capable of delivering data transfer speeds of up to 5Gbps – compared to the 10Gbps on offer with the second-generation. In addition, while the USB Type-C form is in use, due to the lack of the second-generation 3.1 standard the Chromebook Tab 10 will only be able to connect to HD displays – compared to the second-generation technology which is capable of supporting higher resolutions through its ability to transmit DisplayPort and HDMI signals, among others. Additional connectivity support includes 2×2 MIMO 802.11ac Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.1. Users can also expect to find a 3.5 mm jack included (dual port) and the ability to expand on the storage thanks to the inclusion of a microSD card slot.
Chromebook Tab 10 Battery Life
Chromebooks are known for being a product line that offers extended levels of battery life in general and this seems to be the case with the Chromebook Tab 10. Acer has not provided firm details on the mAh capacity. Although the company has confirmed the battery is a 34 Watt-hour (Wh) battery, meaning it can draw a maximum of 34-watts for one hour. Based on the USB 3.1 standard in use, and assuming the voltage is 5V, then the mAh capacity of the battery is likely to be between 6,000 and 7,000 mAh. Either way, Acer does state during typical use the battery will have the potential to offer up to nine hours of power off the charge. In other words, enough for a full school day's usage. It is also worth noting the stylus included with the package does not rely on battery power and so it is only the tablet which will need to be charged.
Chromebook Tab 10 Software
While Chrome OS is fairly standard across devices it is worth keeping in mind this is an education-focused device and this does mean there are some minor but important variations to the software experience. For example, the Chromebook Tab 10 does come with a Chrome Education license and so IT administrators will be able to manage the Chromebook Tab 10 in much the same way they already do with any other Chrome OS device, including the ability to manage apps and extensions, as well as applying applicable updates when they become available. Multiple user sign-in is also included and therefore the tablet can be used by any number of different students within the same environment/day with each student seeing a populated list of apps and features specific to their Google account. By the same token, with this being Chrome OS, most, if not all, of the data is backed up remotely and so student work will be saved to the student's Google account, and not locally. One of the added benefits of this is how students can start a project on the Chromebook Tab 10 in school and then finish up the project at home or elsewhere on any other device where the same Google account is accessible from. With Chrome OS having gained Android app support, the Google Play Store and an extensive list of Android apps are accessible from the Chromebook Tab 10.
Though not supported at launch, Acer has confirmed the Chromebook Tab 10 will support Google's augmented reality (AR) functionality in the future. This not only means the Chromebook Tab 10 will support app-based AR experiences, but also Google's Expeditions AR program. This is a program which looks to provide heightened AR experiences that offer specific benefits to the classroom and education in general. While Acer has confirmed AR support is coming to the Chromebook Tab 10, the company has not provided any firm details on when that support can be expected.
Chromebook Tab 10 Security
In and of itself, the Chromebook Tab 10 does not come with any specific security measures to note. However, as this is a Chrome OS-powered tablet, it does come with a number of security-driven aspects included, and the very fact this is Chrome OS would imply the Chromebook Tab 10 is more secure than most, if not all, Android tablets that have come before. For example, Chrome OS is a fairly closed operating system which is tightly integrated with Google services. Therefore those browsing the internet do not have to worry about aspects like an antivirus. Likewise, with most of the content occurring (and being backed up) in the cloud there is very little by way of local content that can prove to be an issue. Yes, Android apps are downloadable but these will be subject to the usual Google safeguards, such as Google Play Protect. The same goes with Chrome extensions, as while they can be installed, if they do prove to be problematic in any way removing the extension typically fixes the issue. In the very shortest of terms, Chrome OS is one of the safest operating systems currently available.
Chromebook Tab 10 Pricing and Availability
Acer has now confirmed preliminary pricing and availability information for the Acer Chromebook Tab 10 although these figures are understood to be fluid. Meaning they may vary between regions with Acer stating firm pricing and availability will be announced on a per-region basis closer to the time the tablet is released in each region. As a guide the Chromebook Tab 10 is first expected to become available in North America to education and commercial customers in April. At which point it is expected to arrive with a $329 price tag attached. Following the North American launch, the Chromebook Tab 10 will be heading to EMEA where it is expected to initially become available in May. The only guide price that has been announced for EMEA is the European price with the Chromebook Tab 10 set t retail for €329 – inclusive of VAT. At present the Chromebook Tab 10 is only scheduled for be released in one color variant, "Cobalt Blue."
Chromebook Tab 10 Gallery