The iPad has for so long been the tablet of choice in the education behemoth. Since 2010, Apple has held the tablet market and there haven’t been many signs that this was about to change. Android tablets have always existed and they have had some success in classrooms but this has always been limited. However, 2018 has seen the launch of the Chrome-OS competition, most notably in the form of the ACER Chromebook Tab 10. I was privileged to be asked to test and review one on behalf of C-Learning for the last 30 days.
The UK primary market has long advocated the need for easily accessible tablets with Chromebook deployment being slower than their tablet counterparts in this sector specifically. Apple have needed a challenger and perhaps the Tab 10 is a genuine contender in the field.
5 Reasons Why Buying a Tab 10 is worth your while
The Tab 10 retails around £350 RRP, similar to the entry level iPad. However, with the additional expense of an Apple Pencil (retailing at c.£99), the Chromebook tablet is a genuinely more affordable option. This position is further solidified by the ‘Chromebook Concept’ - the idea that Chromebooks get faster over time, with their cloud-based OS, which allows for content to be stored remotely rather than clogging up the device (NB: this was one of my biggest bugbears when working in a secondary school - “Your iPad is running out of storage.”)
The garaged stylus is a great feature - it is genuinely easy to use, light to the touch and the WACOM EMR technology leads to a “super-precise and crash-resistant pen for writing, drawing, taking notes and working accurately on the tablet screen, that enable(s) the best, zero-latency digital writing experience” (according to Acer’s own website). I have found this to be the case too; a functional stylus which is like holding a pencil, built-in to the actual device - this is a potential game-changer.
The battery life is 9-10 hours - much longer than a traditional school day so it need never run out by the time you get to P5 - the curse of some subjects! Administrators, thanks to Chrome OS can manage all the features of the tablet, from updates, to the configurations of the App. In addition, the storage space on Google Drive safeguards data even in case of loss or break of the device. USB-C charging, although not ubiquitous in school settings, is increasingly becoming the port of choice so the fact that the Tab 10 has this is significant in terms of its longevity.
Administrators, thanks to Chrome OS can manage the many features of the tablet, including updates, configurations and App deployment. In addition, the storage space on Google Drive protects any student or staff data, which can be remotely ‘saved’ if and when devices are lost or broken. Requiring screenlocks and passwords, as well as the option to keep work and personal apps separately is a great Chromebook feature afforded to the Tab 10.
So anyone who has used any Chrome OS devices knows the immense benefits of a native Google environment. Automatic updates, a sandbox environment for every web page and app, verified boot, data encryption across the entire system, and a one-click refresh, as well as an immensely superior load time and speed in comparison to similar models. It is also complemented by the cloud technology that operates in the background - storage and accessibility become almost non-issues.
However, there are some limitations which we can’t ignore. No honest reviewer can just talk up the good!
Despite a resolution of 2048 x 1536 to 264 pixels per inch which means that students can interact with objects in 3D, expanding, rotating, zooming images as they wish, the Tab 10 is let down by its 2MP HD front webcam and 5MP rear camera. Many users are now requiring one device to perform all the tasks that they once would’ve used specialist equipment for. The camera is something that has obviously been sacrificed for price and design. It isn’t a huge deal but it is something to be aware of.
As a (formerly) loyal Apple customer for the last 15 years, I have become accustomed to slick, beautiful design. I tend to agree with the team from Techradar who suggest that Chrome’s interface and design is not optimised for touch-only devices - the blue plastic shell with clunky bezels lets it down in my opinion, as does the lack of a home button, which, for those without a keyboard, is potentially frustrating. Despite a brilliant display to rival the iPad, design elements are lacking for the price.
Perhaps the most significant issue with the Tab 10 is performance. This isn’t too much of an issue for the average student but the 4GB of RAM, 32GB of storage, and the OP1 processor have long been noted as struggling with some tasks, especially if you are aiming to do more than one thing at once - the Tab 10 doesn’t like that! It’s not necessarily slow and sluggish like some other Chromebook models but it certainly isn’t as lightning as one might expect from the flagship first outing of a Chromebook tablet.
My verdict is that the Acer Chromebook Tab 10 is an affordable, manageable and durable device that will make a great alternative to the expensive Apple products being touted as the only tablet on the market for education. Indeed, the fast-charging, stylus-integrated, Chrome-native Tab 10 is worth investing in. You still have time (just!) to catch the last few dates of the C-Learning roadshow for the Tab 10 by visiting this link