Lenovo Unveils Rugged ThinkPads For Schools And A Yoga Chromebook Too

Lenovo's staying in the news for its recent purchase of Motorola Mobility, but the laptop side of the house is still humming, too. The timing here seems a little odd given that we're nowhere near back-to-school season, but then again, it has the spotlight to itself. The company has just issued new, rugged ThinkPad devices aimed at the education market. Introduced for the first time at the Florida Education Technology Conference (FETC), the ThinkPad 11e series of laptops were "designed specifically for education and ruggedized for classroom performance."

These will be headed to K-12 classrooms, and part of the fun is in the form factor. The 11e series will ship in two models: the traditional laptop form as well as a Yoga multimode form that converts to four positions: tablet, laptop, stand, and tent. It's one of the first unconventional laptops to make a beeline for schools, and it's probably best to get ahead of that curve.

There's an 11.6" HD LED antiglare display, an Intel CPU, rubber bumpers, reinforced ports, and stronger-than-usual hinges -- all included to take the abuse from a typical pupil.

Another wrinkle in all of this is the OS: there's a ThinkPad Yoga 11e Chromebook as well as a ThinkPad 11e Chromebook, proving that Google's OS does indeed have a place in the world. As Windows fights to maintain the Lion's share of the market, tablets continue to infiltrate, and phones continue to get more powerful, Chrome OS is slowly but surely inching up in the market share race. If these catch hold in schools, the sky really is the limit for Google.

The ThinkPad 11e series of devices will be available this spring from Lenovo business partners, with pricing on the Windows-based models to start at $449 and the Chromebook models at $349.