Let me introduce you to the world's first Chrome OS tablet: the Acer Chromebook Tab 10. For $329, this tablet provides exclusive educational apps, good enough graphics to run top Android games and an included stylus, all packed into a stylish design. There are some notable weaknesses, however, including a less-than-stellar processor, short battery life, a pair of disappointing cameras and quiet speakers. But overall, the Chromebook Tab 10 is a good Chrome tablet for the classroom. It even made its way onto our Best Kids Tablets page.
For a tablet that's designed specifically for students, the Chromebook Tab 10 is pretty snazzy-looking. The back of the tablet looks like a cobalt-blue river, with its diagonal, plastic ridges rippling across the chassis until they meet a pristine, silver Chrome logo.
The ripples calm down to a flatter texture when they cross over to the sides of the tablet. Meanwhile, the face of the tablet is clean, leaving just enough room for an Acer logo at the bottom and a camera at the top, making for decently proportioned bezels.
There's also an optional, $39 cover for the Chromebook Tab 10. It's a simple plastic case with a leather flap, but I found it to be incredibly nonintuitive. I can't use it as a stand, it makes the tablet uncomfortable to hold, and it gets in the way when I try to take photos. Additionally, it blocks the microSD card slot.
At 1.2 pounds and 9.4 x 6.8 x 0.4 inches, the Chromebook Tab 10 is the heaviest and thickest amongst similarly sized tablets. The Apple iPad 9.7-inch (2018) is lighter, at 1 pound and 0.3 inches, and the Lenovo Tab 4 10 Plus is thinner, at 1.1 pounds and 0.28 inches.
The top of the tablet features an audio jack, a microphone and three speaker panels.
The left side has the power button, a battery indicator, a volume rocker, a microSD card slot and a dock for the stylus, while the bottom has another three speaker panels and a USB Type-C charging port.
Display: Colorful but not as bright
The Chromebook Tab 10's 9.7-inch, 2048 x 1536 display is gorgeous, but it didn't quite hold up to the competition in our lab tests.
When Jean Grey looked over a grassy field in the trailer for X-Men: Dark Phoenix, the wilderness looked rich and pure, as if I were standing there with her. Even the buildings far in the backdrop were bolded in a combo of blue and yellow colors. Despite some glare, I picked up everything on screen as Beast walked atop a hill on an ominously dark day. And when Magneto was being his emotional old self, I noticed that his short, fuzzy beard was incredibly sharp.
The Chromebook Tab 10's panel covers 107 percent of the sRGB color gamut, and while that holds up against the 105 percent slate average, the Tab 10's competitors are more colorful. The Lenovo Tab 4 10 Plus hit 109 percent, and the iPad reproduced 119 percent.
Acer's tablet produced 382 nits of brightness, which is behind the 416-nit category average. While the Tab 4 10 Plus didn't make the average either, at 400 nits, the iPad blasted it away, with 489 nits.
Tablet and Stylus
The Chromebook Tab 10 accurately picked up my finger as I navigated through the Chrome OS. I found the Auto Rotate feature frustrating, however, as the tablet would often flip the display with the slightest motion leaning toward a particular side. This forced me to lock the rotation.
The stylus, on the other hand, is simple and easy to use. As soon as I took it out of its dock, a prompt appeared and asked me if I wanted to take a screenshot, create a note, use the stylus as a laser pointer or even use it as magnifying glass.
I also noticed that while I was drawing a poor excuse for a boat, the tablet recognized my finger not as an input for the pen, but rather as a separate input that could move the page, which was neat.
These speakers were barely loud enough to fill a small office with Imagine Dragons' "Friction," so I'm not sure how they would hold up in a classroom. The balance between treble and bass was decent, as I picked up the low-tone beats in the opening, but the sound still lacked depth. Dan Reynolds opened the song with low vocals and then transitioned to blasting his voice during the chorus, but I couldn't tell the difference on the Chromebook Tab 10's speakers.
This beauty has an OP1 processor with integrated graphics, 4GB of RAM and 32GB of eMMC storage. It was able to power through 15 Google Chrome tabs and a 1080p music video before it slowed down.
While education is fine and all, kids will also likely want to use the Chromebook Tab 10 to play games, and that it does. While PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds didn't look that great, the Chromebook Tab 10's graphics performance was smooth enough for me to get four kills, which is the best I've ever done in any PUBG game I've played.
On the Geekbench 4 overall performance test, the Chromebook Tab 10 scored 3,161, which is just slightly under the 3,663 average for slates. The Tab 4 10 Plus and iPad did much better, at 4,097 and 5,983, respectively. It's important to note that the Chromebook Tab 10 has to use an Android emulator in order to run the Geekbench 4 app, and that may account for some lack in performance.
Chrome OS and Education Features
The Chromebook Tab 10 is the world's first Chrome OS tablet, but being first isn't necessarily a good thing. The Chrome OS is basically a stripped-down version of a normal operating system that operates solely through the Google Chrome web browser. It does, however, have access to the Google Play store and, therefore, Android apps. But because the operating system itself is pretty barren, there are no noticable differences in tablet form.
One highlight that was supposed to arrive in this tablet was augmented reality support, which Google now says will be available sometime in the fall. This feature would give kids access to Google Expeditions AR, which can map out a classroom and allow the placement of 3D objects that relate to subjects like biology, geography and astronomy. The program would make it easier to learn visually.
The benefit of a Chrome OS tablet in schools is that students can access exclusive apps like Adobe Spark, Lego Education and Google Expeditions AR, the latter of which launches soon.
After surfing the web continuously over Wi-Fi at 150 nits of brightness, the Chromebook Tab 10 lasted only 6 hours and 49 minutes, falling to a third under the 9:43 average for slates. The Chromebook Tab 10 just barely lasts a school day, putting it at a severe disadvantage compared to the iPad (10:07) and Tab 4 10 Plus (13:06).
The 2-megapixel front camera captured the blue and lint-size-white design across my shirt quite well. However, the image looked unnaturally blotchy and grainy, as if I had dialed the sharpness tab to the max. The camera did well enough to manage contrast though, as the ceiling lights weren't blown out and my face was bright enough that you could see my pores.
The 5-MP rear camera also managed colors well, as my incredibly nerdy Goku statue looked bold due to the character's bright orange gi and blue belt. This image was naturally more crisp, but the camera still has the same sharpness issue as the front camera, and so the images turn out very blotchy.
Warranty and Support
Acer's Chromebook Tab 10 is quite the looker and offers a lot of exclusive educational apps. The stylus works well, and the tablet is powerful enough to handle a few rounds of PUBG once kids are off the clock.
It's disappointing, however, that the battery life barely lasts school day and that the performance is slower than that of competitors. The Tab 10 also has poor cameras and speakers, all in a tablet that costs the same as an iPad.
Speaking of iPads, the 9.7-inch model of Apple's slate costs $329 and comes with faster performance, a better display and longer battery life than the Tab 10 offers, along with ready-to-go AR and educational apps.
While the Chromebook Tab 10 has some weaknesses, it's still a solid educational tablet that could benefit schools.
Credit: Laptop Mag