The Acer Chromebook Tab 10 marks the start of the Chrome OS tablet era
Acer and Google have unveiled the first tablet device running Chrome OS, the Chromebook Tab 10. It's aimed primarily at the education market but it marks the end of the Android tablet era for Google, as it focuses its attention on Chrome OS across both laptops and tablet devices.
The writing has been on the wall for a while. Despite occasional success with Android tablets, Google's last Android tablet was the Pixel C, launched almost three years ago in September 2015.
Now that Chrome OS supports touchscreen input, and can run a selection of Android apps very happily, it makes sense for Google to start promoting Chrome OS tablets instead. Look at the Pixelbook, which is essentially a Chrome OS tablet with a keyboard attached.
Having the same operating system across both laptops, desktops, and tablets is a strategy that's served Windows 10 well, with Microsoft and its hardware partners now producing all kinds of 2-in-1 devices to meet pretty much any kind of need. Google will be hoping that Chrome OS proves just as versatile.
The Acer Chromebook Tab 10 comes with a 9.7-inch screen and a sharp 2048 x 1536 pixel resolution, as well as a bundled Wacom stylus that fits into the tablet when not in use. It's a little heavier and thicker than the entry-level iPad, but it definitely has Apple's tablets in its sights – Apple itself has an education-focused event scheduled for tomorrow.
Inside there's an OP1 processor, 4 GB of RAM, and 32 GB of storage. The tablet also comes rocking a USB-C port, a microSD slot, and a 3.5-mm headphone jack. There are basic cameras front and rear, and Acer is promising up to nine hours of battery life.
Android tablets may live on at the budget end of the market, and Samsung still makes a number of very fine Android tablets, but Chrome OS has the advantage of offering both Android apps and a fully fledged, desktop-level web browser (if you need a keyboard, you can attach one via Bluetooth). It's clear that this is the direction Google is going to head in in the future.
There's often been talk of Chrome OS and Android merging, but in the end Google has managed to simply tack the two together fairly seamlessly, to give users the best of both worlds on devices with larger screens and keyboards.
The tablet is going on sale in the US in April for $329, before availability expands to other markets across the rest of the world from May. We suspect that we're going to hear a lot more about Chrome OS tablets in the future.