Chrome OS tablets have been expected for years, and today Acer and Google are finally teaming up to launch the first ever model: the Chromebook Tab 10. It’s pretty standard budget tablet hardware with Chrome OS loaded on it. There’s no keyboard—just a touchscreen and a passive Wacom stylus.
Google wrote a blog post pitching the device as a new piece of education hardware. Chrome OS notebooks dominate in the education sector, and this tablet easily plugs into that ecosystem, with identical apps and security configurations. The lack of a keyboard will mean that typing out long homework assignments won’t be ideal, though. Tomorrow, Apple is holding an education-focused event where it is widely expected to announce a cheaper iPad, and it seems like Google is trying to steal some of educators’ attention with this announcement.
The hardware seems like any other non-iPad tablet. You get a 9.7-inch 2048 x 1536 IPS LCD, Google’s “OP1” processor branding (in previous devices, this meant a Rockchip RK3399 SoC), 4GB of RAM, 32GB of storage, a 2MP front camera, a 5MP rear camera, and a 34Wh battery. It has a USB-C port, microSD slot, a 3.5mm headphone jack, 802.11ac Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth 4.1. The device ships in April in North America for $ 329, and it will be available to “education and commercial customers.” In Europe, the Middle East, and Africa, the Chromebook Tab 10 will launch in May for €329, including VAT.
If you get tired of just looking at the Internet, the Chromebook Tab 10 can also run Android apps. Google says there will later be support for augmented reality apps, presumably meaning the device supports Google’s AR Core Android initiative.
Google is really going with the contradictory name of “Chromebook tablets” for these devices. Notebooks (and Chromebooks) get the “book” name from the fact that they have hinges that allow them to open and close like a book. When you take the hinge away and make a tablet, it’s not really a “book” form factor anymore.
You could say that Google already has a tablet OS—Android—but Android tablets seem pretty much dead. Google’s last Android tablet was the Pixel C, which it stopped selling in 2017. Even then, the Pixel C seemed like it was originally designed for Chrome OS and was loaded with Android at the last minute. Android tablet interfaces peaked in version 3.0, and since then, Google has slowly lost interest in maintaining a tablet-specific interface, making Android feel more and more like a big phone OS. Are Chrome OS tablets the successor to Android tablets, or will these also fall to the iPad?