Google’s Chrome OS has seen plenty of success in the education market, and it’s easy to see why. Chromebooks running Chrome OS are relatively inexpensive, a web-based management console allows for admins to easily manage/monitor deices, and the built-in keyboard makes them a bit more useful in the classroom than your average tablet.
Dell obviously sees the benefits of Chromebooks, especially in the education market, hence its announcement of the new Chromebook 11 that replaces last year’s model. You’ll still find an 11.6-inch 1366x768 display (compete with a 180-degree hinge) that can be equipped with a traditional anti-glare panel option or a touch screen (no matter which panel you choose, it will come covered with Gorilla Glass for added durability). Inside you’ll find just enough horsepower to make the cut for classroom duty: an Intel Bay Trail-M Celeron processor (2.16GHz) with 2GB of RAM (4GB is optional), 16GB of storage, and 802.11ac wireless. It will also last ten hours on a charge.
One rather intriguing feature of the new Chromebook 11 is a multicolor LED “activity light” that is featured in the upper right corner of the display lid. Since the light would face the classroom teacher, Dell says that it can be used to “easily monitor student activity and facilitate more meaningful interactions such as orchestrating student groups or facilitating quick quizzes and polls.” We’re not so sure how much information a teacher will be able to glean from a rather small LED bar in a classroom full of students, but it is what it is…
The laptop itself, which weighs less than three pounds, is built to handle the abuses of students with sturdy matte black plastic construction and a heavy-duty display hinge. Dell has also sealed off the keyboard and trackpad in an effort to prevent damage from spills, which is a nice touch.
Dell is pricing the Chromebook 11 at $249 with 2GB of RAM standard. Opting for 4GB of RAM bumps the price to $299. Both models are available today. Dell will also make available a Latitude 11 Education Series, which carries the same basic design (it adds a 250GB HDD in place of the 16GB SSD and an Ethernet jack while ditching the activity light) and runs Windows 7 or Windows 8.1. The Latitude 11 Education Series starts at $299 and will be available in March.