The Acer Chromebook Tab 10 is pointlessly being compared to the iPad by most folks looking at it today. Certainly, it can be compared in that it is a 10-inch tablet, however, it’s not fair to say that it is anywhere near the standard you would expect from a £500 piece of Apple hardware. Instead what we have is Acer daring to try something new, exploring a form that is yet to be explored. Putting chrome onto a tablet is an interesting venture and one experience I am a very much enjoyed over the last number of weeks.

Looking around the device on the top we have a 3.5 mm headphone jack, three holes that form a speaker grill and that’s about it.

On the bottom there are identical 3 holes forming a speaker grill that are not parallel to the other end, in fact, they are at a diagonal.  This is an odd setup but a sensible one as when you are holding the tablet in landscape mode, you do not cover both speakers and therefore no muffled sound. Simple and neat idea.

There is a USB-C charger off to the extreme right. This charges the battery quite quickly and efficiently. A one hour charge gives you practically a full battery. Battery life is pretty good with around about 2 weeks of standby and several screen on hours. Since receiving the tablet a fortnight ago I am on my fourth charge and it’s been everywhere with me.

On the left side we have a power button above an LED. A volume rocker sits below this followed by a micro SD card slot that lacks a cover, however, it can be used in hot swapping. Down the very bottom a slot for the enclosed  stylist.

On the right side there is nothing.

The back has is an interesting grippy design, that is purely plastic with the Chrome logo  proudly pronounced toward the bottom and at the top right hand corner we have the 5mp camera lens

Around the front, there is a generous 9.7” inch 2048×1536 QXGA screen with nicely sized bezels providing good grip in either portrait or landscape mode. The screen is an easy selling point, bright, crisp and large. It’s an easy screen to like and complements the device greatly. Acer has made a good choice here. Whilst 264 PPI is considered low, there is no issue with visible pixels.

The hardware is not going to win any awards, it does what it needs to do whilst keeping costs down. It looks pretty good and whilst this unit shows signs of wear and tear quite early on in its life with damage to the 3.5 mm headphone jack after being passed around reviewers, it feels sturdy enough and I was happily throwing it in my bag as my daily driver.

Under the hood is a Rockchip RK3399 Hexa-core and whilst not an amazing chipset, it keeps things ticking over. Backed by 4 GB RAM, the good mixer folks look for when choosing a Chromebook, the Chromebook Tab steams through most processes with relative ease. The main judge of Chromebook performance is open tabs, and I managed over 10 at one stage without any impact on performance.

There are two cameras on board and these are merely serviceable. Whilst not totally horrendous they are nothing to write home about, some grainy and the colour representation is very drab.

Hardware is not the main focus of this tablet. The question is does Chrome work as a tablet operating system. The honest answer is, yes.

Chromebooks for the last couple of years have featured touchscreens. The operating system lends itself well to the finger and whilst not everything is strictly finger friendly there is back up from the included stylus, which is essentially just a small pointing stick. There are no technological marvels that Samsung like to pack into their Note stylus.

If you ever read a review for a Chromebook you will see much love for the operating system nowadays, as it features almost everything a full-blooded operating system needs. This review, for example, is written on the Chromebook Tab 10 using two different methods,  dictation and the on-screen keyboard. I’m pleased to say whilst the dictation isn’t a 100% accurate, or even 75% accurate, composing the piece was relatively simple and very quick.

Obviously, people are looking to find the failings of the Chromebook tab, The problems and those areas that just don’t measure up to an Android tablet or even an iPad. I’m pleased to say that most of my issues were more to do with app incompatibility from Android to Chrome. Most everything else works well.

If I was to raise one issue, it would be with the desktop. When you look at the chrome desktop it is an empty void looking for icons. On a Windows desktop, you can fill it with shortcuts. Chrome seems to operate out of its taskbar and this becomes limited on the Chromebook Tab 10 when you switch it to portrait mode as the taskbar only shows a couple of icons for applications. It can take a couple of taps in order for you to open a particular application. Above the taskbar is a large void of wasted space. An Android tablet or an iPad would typically be full of app icons,  instead, we have a gorgeous looking Utah or Texas landscape. Wasted space.

It helps immeasurably that Acer chose to include this stylus. Adding in a bunch of features such as handwriting recognition, drawing, snapshots and note-taking functionality has given the Tab 10 an impressive feature set. Using the stylus to correct words that are incorrect during this dictation makes formatting something of a doddle. Using the stylus alongside your fingers on the touchscreen allows you to edit a document very quickly and efficiently. The stylus selects the text, your fingers control the scroll, the microphone controls the input and the keyboard makes for some fine tuning. It might seem a little cumbersome to imagine doing it however once you give it a go you’ll realise how much it simplifies Word Processing.

The Tab 10 is geared towards educational purposes and I don’t blame them. Putting out a Chrome consumer tablet would have been a tough sell especially as most people are incredibly lukewarm about  Chrome, don’t understand it or I will make the comparison between this type of setup and an iPad. Android tablets have been fighting an uphill battle for the last 3 years to try and hang in there, so the likelihood of a Chromebook tablet making it on the shelves Dixons or PC World beside an iPad are limited right now.

If you know someone with a Chromebook I’m sure you are sick to death of hearing them talk about what good value it was and how awesome it is, or perhaps they just don’t get it because it doesn’t work the same way as Windows. As an educational tablet, the Chromebook Tab 10 is flat out fantastic value. It’s good for gaming, thanks to the Android app store, productivity is impressive, thanks to a fully fledged office environment with Google Docs and the ability to use the stylus and microphones to your advantage.

It’s safe to say the Chromebook tab has won me over. I’m not an iPad user and I don’t see much of the future in Android tablets. I look forward to seeing what other manufacturers can do with the idea of Chrome on a tablet as it just works. It works better than when they were porting versions of Android Gingerbread to 10-inch screens and selling them as budget tablets all those years ago. This is the first go-around of Chrome on a tablet and I’m having trouble finding problems.

I’ll be watching to see what happens next with Chrome on tablets and it will be interesting to see in what direction manufacturers take the Chrome tablet. When it arrives in a consumer variant I hope to see something that is a little nicer on the eyes, perhaps a little more horsepower under the bonnet and a little lighter. But right now? The Acer Chromebook Tab 10 is a winner.