The Acer Chromebook Tab 10 is the first Chrome OS tablet. Starting at around 330 US Dollars, it directly competes with the 2018 iPad and higher-end Android tablets. While it is aimed at the education market, everybody can buy it. So, is the first Chrome OS tablet a good one? I’m Andrzej for MyNextTablet.com and this is my Acer Chromebook Tab 10 review.
Design & Build Quality
I’m starting this review with the design and build quality. Regarding this, the Acer Chromebook Tab 10 is a bit disappointing. It does feel solid and I’m sure it’s well built, but it kind of looks like a children’s toy. In fact, it does not feel high-end at all. A lot of competitors in this price range like the 2018 iPad or the Huawei MediaPad M5 series offer a full metal body. They feel much higher-end.
However, the Acer Chromebook Tab 10 has a plastic body only. On the back, there is a nice texture which makes it easy to hold. And there are big black bezels around the screen. They don’t look that nice but again, make it easy to hold on to. Oh well, it’s not premium-feeling, but this is aimed at students, so I guess its fine.
With 9.9 millimeters the tablet is quite thick and not too light at 544 grams.
Ports, Speakers, Cameras
The Chromebook Tab 10 is charged using a USB C connector all the way on the bottom. Using that port, you can also connect accessories like external drives. We get a standard headphone jack on the top and there are volume controls and the power button on the left side. It features a microSD card reader too.
On the top and bottom we get a speaker each, so two in total. The sound quality is not that great but certainly acceptable for watching some YouTube. And this goes for the main 5-megapixel camera and the 2-megapixel front-facing camera too. The quality is kind of bad but just acceptable for Skype.
Another built-in feature is a slot for the Wacom stylus on the bottom left.
The Acer Chromebook Tab 10 has a 9.7-inch display with an aspect ratio of 4:3. It’s an IPS panel with decent viewing angles and a resolution of 2048 x 1536. Yes, that is the exact same resolution of tablets like the iPad 2018 (review) or Samsung Galaxy Tab S3 (review).
Thanks to the high-resolution screen, texts and icons look very sharp. Color and the contrast are alright too but not outstanding. I also like that we’re getting a laminated screen here. So, there is no air gap between the IPS panel and touchscreen. In addition to that, it’s certainly bright enough to use inside and it’s also good enough to work a bit outside.
So, overall, I quite like this display. It is a good one, but not outstanding. When comparing it with the recent iPad you can see that Apple choose a bit better screen. But the differences are minor.
Hardware & Performance
Inside runs a Rockchip RK3399 hexa-core processor which is certified by Google to use with Chromebooks. The chip consists of two powerful Cortex-A72 cores and four efficient Cortex-A53 cores. Other specs include 4GB of RAM and a 32GB internal storage. Out of those, you can use just above 22GB.
Even though Rockchip processors have a bad reputation, this chipset is actually fast enough for most tasks. The performance is especially good enough to run the Chrome browser with a lot of tabs open. Yes, even complex websites load quite nicely and yes, that is much better than with similar priced Windows tablets. For example, I’ve been running Google Docs, YouTube, and my WordPress Backend at the same time and everything worked great.
The operating system itself, the Play Store and the on-screen keyboard run fine too. And this goes for most Android apps as well.
While it is not perfect for heavy multitasking, you can use two or three apps at the same time without any lagging. For example, I used Chrome and Word together all the time and it works great. However, I noticed that the system complete froze up a couple of times after opening a lot of apps after another. Mainly Android apps. Actually, I think it’s the fault of Chrome OS which is not that optimized for tablets and Android apps yet. But it could also be the weak processor.
Compared to Android, there is a major difference in how both operating systems handle multitasking. In Android, apps running in the background get closed automatically if needed, especially if there is not enough RAM. However, that is not the case in Chrome OS. You are responsible for closing apps – just like with any other desktop operating system like Windows.
This behavior has some advantages. For example, you can just leave a YouTube video or Netflix running while you’re looking something up in another app and still listen to the audio part and come back to the video anytime. But the system can’t handle a lot of apps at the same time. So, you have to actively close them. That’s just something to remember when switching to Chrome OS from Android.
Benchmarks & Gaming
As you can see in my benchmark comparison, the Acer Chromebook Tab 10 gets similar results to midrange Android tablets. And that is how it behaves in real life too. As I said, most things do run smoothly. But it’s not ideal for multitasking.
You can install almost every app from the Play Store and that includes Android games. I tried Asphalt Xtreme and Players Unknown Battleground Mobile and both games run on this tablet. They look okay too, but not as good as on higher-end devices.
Alright, as you can see, you can play games on the Acer Chromebook Tab 10 if you really want to. But I wouldn’t recommend you get this if you are looking for a gaming tablet. Similar priced Android tablets or the regular iPad offer a much better gaming performance.
Let’s take a look at the most interesting feature of the Acer Chromebook Tab 10: The operating system. It is the first tablet running Chrome OS. While there have been convertible notebooks in the past, this is the first tablet with a touchscreen only.
Chrome OS is based on Linux and the Chrome browser. In fact, most of the time you will be using the browser here and it looks and works just like Chrome for Windows or macOS. Including all extensions.
Compared to Android, Chrome OS devices have a huge advantage. Updates are delivered directly and regular by Google and not the manufacturer. Chrome OS tablets will be running the latest software much longer than any Android tablet is.
With Chrome OS you can use tons of web apps that you can get in the Chrome Web Store. For some of them, you must be online but a lot of work offline too. In addition to that, the Chromebook Tab 10 is shipped with the Google Play Store and you can install most Android apps.
Chrome OS On Tablets
Chrome OS is quite easy to use. There is a home screen, which is mostly empty. On the bottom, there is a dock which you use to navigate. Just like on Android, there is a back button and a button to open the app drawer. Build into this taskbar are app shortcuts and currently opened apps, as well as an overview over your notifications and quick settings. The notifications look just like on Android.
You can open the app drawer or launcher with a swiping up gesture. All the way on the right, there is another button which is used for multitasking. You get an overview over opened apps and can open them next to each other.
Chromebooks are very interesting if most things you do can be done in a browser. The Chrome browser here is excellent and works great. It looks just like Chrome in Windows or macOS but it is a lot faster than similar priced Windows tablets.
However, you don’t have to use Chrome and web apps only. As I mentioned, the Play Store is pre-installed and you can download most Android apps. So, you don’t have to use Google Docs. Instead, you can download Microsoft Word. Or even Edge and Firebox or Adobe Lightroom. All of this works just like on Android.
That’s the case for multitasking too. However, while you can open two apps side by side just like on Android, you cannot open them in separate windows. I hope you can change that in the future just like you can choose the tablet mode in Windows 10.
Chrome OS has a lot of touchscreen features build-in already but it is not perfect yet. Sometimes it’s obvious that it was originally intended to use with a keyboard and mouse. For example, when setting up the Chromebook Tab 10 there is a little introduction with keyboard shortcuts. Well, there is no keyboard here. There are some other things missing. One feature I would like is a gesture to close an app. Right now, you have to use the small X icon.
But alright, that is fine, and I can live with that. Chrome OS is not perfect for tablets yet, but it is usable already. In fact, I think Chrome OS has a lot of potentials and the developer beta has new touch features already.
Another important feature of the Acer Chromebook Tab 10 is the Wacom EMR stylus which comes inside the box and does not have to be bought separately. The pen requires no batteries and is pressure sensitive with 2048 levels. You can store the stylus inside the tablet itself. While that has some advantages, it has some downsides too. Well, obviously you won’t lose it that easily. However, it is very thin, much thinner than the Microsoft Surface Pen or Apple Pencil. After a while, it can be uncomfortable to hold for longer drawing or writing sessions.
Once you take out the pen, a little menu pops up with software features for the stylus. Using those you can take screenshots and annotate them, cut out something or take handwritten notes in Google Keep. If you want, you can use the pen as a magnifier too.
The Chromebook Tab 10 has a standard on-screen keyboard from Google and it supports handwriting recognition. Because of that, you can use your handwriting to write in any app or website. However, it is not as smooth as on Android or Windows 10. I’ve got a pretty bad handwriting and it doesn’t recognize it sometimes. Windows 10 recognizes it surprisingly well.
Anyways, overall the pen works just as it should. You can also use it in Android apps like Autodesk Sketchbook.
Inside the Acer Chromebook Tab 10 sits a battery with a capacity of 8860mah. That is enough for a runtime of 10 hours in my battery test. For this test, I’m always looping an HD video at 50 percent brightness and activated Wi-Fi.
As you can see in my comparison, there are quite some Android tablets and iPads that last longer. However, some last much shorter too. So, the Chromebook Tab 10 results are alright.
The same goes for everyday use. It will certainly last you a day when doing some web browsing in Chrome and working in Word. But, obviously, it depends on what you are doing.
Acer Chromebook Tab 10 Review: Final Verdict
Alright, is the Acer Chromebook Tab 10 a good first Chrome OS tablet? Well, considering it is the first, it is pretty good and I enjoyed using it. I think Chrome OS tablets are exciting and Google did a lot of things right here. At the same time, you can use Android apps too, so you get the best out of both worlds: A great desktop-class browser including extensions and Android apps. And, don’t forget, updates are delivered by Google directly.
The only thing I’m not a huge fan of is the design. Since it costs over 300 US Dollars it would have been nice to get a full metal body. That is what competitors like the iPad and Huawei MediaPad M5 offer. But alright, the Chromebook Tab 10 is aimed at students too, so maybe the design is great for that. All other aspects are pretty good. The performance is good enough and the display has a nice resolution. Well, the pen could be thicker, but at least its free and it works just fine.
So, should you buy the Acer Chromebook Tab 10? If you know that you need a Chrome OS tablet, then sure, get it. While it is not perfect yet, it also does not have any huge downsides. And it will get improved over time. However, if you don’t like to experiment with new systems and are not part of the education market, you might want to wait for a future Chrome OS tablet. Or just get an iPad or Huawei MediaPad M5 (review). With those, you get a nice metal body, features like a fingerprint sensor and much better gaming performance for about the same price.
If you are willing to spend a bit more, the HP Chromebook x2 might be a better alternative too.
- High-resolution screen
- Decent performance
- Wacom pen included
- Outstanding Chrome browser
- Guarantied updates
- Chrome OS for tablets not perfect yet
- Multitasking issues
- Stylus to thin
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