Tuesday, January 31, 2017

New Chromebooks

Google just made it a no-brainer for school districts to kick Apple and Microsoft to the curb.

At the education technology conference Bett, the search giant announced two new Chromebooks from Acer and Asus that basically offer low-cost, secure alternatives to iPads and Windows notebooks in one device.

Google has been pushing hard into the education market for the past few years with software and services as well as with its Chromebook laptops and other hardware running on the company's Chrome web-based operating system. Chromebooks are attractive for their affordable pricing, simplicity and shareability, but they typically don't offer the same level of interactivity as an iPad or the durability of some Windows systems.

The two new Chromebook models -- the Acer Chromebook Spin 11 and the Asus Chromebook C213 -- are convertible laptops that can be used as tablets, as traditional notebooks, or in tent or display positions. Both are built to military standards for drops with the Acer featuring a spill-resistant keyboard and touchpad and the Asus, a modular design for easy onsite repairs.

Along with the sturdy construction, the Chromebooks have three key features. One is the included stylus, which Google said is inexpensive, doesn't require charging and doesn't need to be paired before use. Wacom EMR (electromagnetic resonance) technology and the stylus will let students write, draw and erase directly on the screen with little lag.

Each has a world-facing camera. Along with a camera above the screen, there is one also above the keyboard deck so that when they're in tablet mode students can use it to capture photos and video with the screen as the viewfinder. Lastly, they both charge off of USB-C, so there's no need to keep track of a specific power adapter.

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