Google may be on the verge of changing how it approaches the tablet market. After years of only allowing its hardware partners to put Chrome OS on devices with a laptop or desktop form factor, the first official Chrome OS tablet has appeared. The Acer Chromebook Tab 10 shares some specs with the Samsung Chromebook Plus, but it doesn’t have a keyboard. This 10-inch tablet will launch in the US in April before expanding to the rest of the world in May.
Google rolled out the first official Android tablets in 2011, and consumers seemed at least somewhat interested for a few years. However, tablet sales in general have declined — even the iPad isn’t the runaway success it was four or five years ago. The situation is more dire for Android tablets, and most OEMs have just stopped making them entirely. Google’s solution seems to be running Android apps on Chrome OS, but it’s taken a long time to get to this point.
Google began deploying the Play Store to Chrome OS in 2016, and that was after several years of testing various app emulators. Today, most Chromebooks can run Android apps installed from the on-device Play Store client. Google has also enhanced the touch-screen functionality of Chrome OS to the point it can work as a tablet without a physical keyboard.
Like it or not, the Acer Chromebook Tab 10 is a taste of Google’s new tablet strategy. You can use the Chrome OS browser and extensions to access content on the web, which is faster and more powerful than the browser on Android tablets. The Play Store gives you access to all the apps you’d want to use on an Android tablet as well.
The Chromebook Tab 10 probably won’t be a device you purchase, but it’s something your kids might use at school — Acer is targeting the Chromebook Tab 10 as an education product. It has a 9.7-inch 2048×1536 LCD, 32GB of storage, and 4GB of RAM. It’s based on the OP1 platform, just like the Samsung Chromebook Pro. That’s a Rockchip RK3399-C hexa-core ARM chip with two high-power Cortex-A72 cores and four Cortex-A53 cores in a BIG.little configuration. Acer’s new Chrome OS tablet has a single USB Type-C port for data, charging, and audio, but there’s a microSD card for expandable storage.
The tablet is similar in size to the iPad, but it’s almost 100g heavier. However, it comes with a Wacom stylus that docks inside the tablet. The stylus doesn’t need a battery because it works via the digitizer built into the tablet’s display.
Acer will sell the Chromebook Tab 10 for $320, which is a reasonable price. You can probably expect some consumer-focused Chrome OS tablets to be along soon.
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