Google’s first Chrome OS tablet arrives day before new iPad

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Chrome OS tablet
Acer’s 9.7-inch Chrome OS tablet is designed for students.
Photo: Acer

The first ever tablet to run Google’s Chrome OS has finally arrived.

Acer revealed its new Chromebook Tab 10 which is aiming to take a big slice of the education market. Chrome OS laptops have already had a lot of success in schools, but Apple is planning to launch its own cheap tablet for schools tomorrow. And it will undoubtedly steal the Chromebook Tab 10’s thunder.

“The Acer Chromebook Tab 10 combines advances in hardware and application support to enable more meaningful learning for an even wider range of K-12 students,” said James Lin, general manager of consumer notebooks for the IT Products Business group at Acer in a statement.

The Chromebook tablet has a 9.7-inch display with 2048 by 1536 screen resolution, giving it a pixel density of 261. That’s exactly the same specs as Apple’s $329 iPad. Not coincidentally, Acer’s tablet sells for exactly the same price.

The Chrome tablet comes with a Wacom EMR pen for note-taking and drawing. The budget iPad doesn’t support a pressure-sensitive stylus, but Apple will hold an education-related event tomorrow morning during which an inexpensive iPad with Apple Pencil support is rumored to be on the day’s syllabus.

Acer’s offering is powered by an OP1 hexagon-core processor and includes 4GB of RAM and 32GB of onboard storage. There’s dual speakers, a 2MP webcam, and a 5MP rear camera.

Acer promises a battery life of up to 9 hours. Apple says its rival iPad is good for 10 hours on a single charge.

The Chrome OS tablet comes with Google Play, giving teachers and students access to educational Android apps.

Chrome OS rumbles with iOS in schoolyards

Apple once dominated K-12 education, but now finds itself fighting hard against Google. More than half of all computers that were installed in classrooms last year run Chrome OS. Microsoft is in second place with about a quarter of the market, and Apple is below 20 percent, according to Futuresource Consulting.

The iPad supposedly set to debut tomorrow is intended to keep Cupertino in the fight. In addition to being the first model not part of the iPad Pro line to support the Apple Pencil, it could be as cheap as $259.

Acer’s Chrome OS tablet will launch in the U.S. next month and in EMEA the following month.