Lenovo Joins The Chromebook Fray with ThinkPad X131e

Lenovo added to its education portfolio with the release of the ThinkPad X131e, a Chromebook designed to withstand the substantial abuse doled out by kids in grades K-12.  The laptop includes a rubberized bumper around the top cover, reinforced corners for the inevitable drops, and strengthened hinges and brackets that are built to be opened and closed 50,000 times before giving out.

"With the rugged features we added to the X131e, we've seen reduced failure rates in the field”, said Jerry Paradise, executive director of product marketing for the ThinkPad Product Group. “This is a huge benefit to schools and students.”

Being a Chromebook, this ThinkPad taps into Google Apps for Education and the Chrome Web Store, giving students cloud-powered applications with a back end that is conveniently managed by Google instead of by schools. That said, school IT departments are able to manage the security and scalability of a whole fleet of ThinkPad Chromebooks from a single dashboard.

Lenovo ThinkPad X131e

Under the hood, these Chromebooks run an unspecified Intel processor (our money is on a Celeron chip) and have an 11.6-inch (1366x768 HD LED) anti-glare display. There are three USB ports, HDMI and VGA ports, WiFi, and a low-light webcam. The battery purports to last for an entire school day, and at under four pounds, students shouldn’t have too much trouble schlepping them around.

Lenovo didn’t specify a price, but they’ll reportedly “cost less than most high end tablets” (cough, iPad, cough). The laptops will be available February 26th via a special bid.

Despite Apple’s efforts on the education front, the pipe dream of having iPads in every classroom is far too expensive for the majority of school districts; relatively inexpensive yet rugged Chromebooks with access to free educational software is probably a better bet for most.