While Panasonic was introducing the 3E convertible laptop based on Intel's Education 2-in-1 reference design, a pair of lower-profile companies were announcing new Chromebooks that are based on Intel's Education Chromebook reference design.
CTL and M&A Technology are not exactly household names, but they hope to enter the households (and classrooms) of students with their new notebooks. While Chromebooks have long been seen as ideal educational laptops, it's only recently that Intel has created a standardized design for the Chrome-based portables. (That hasn't stopped companies like Lenovo from tapping into the Chromebook educational market.)
Of course, the reference design is built around Intel's processors, in this case either the Celeron N2830 or N2930 Bay Trail CPU. It can be configured with either 2GB or 4GB of RAM, and also includes a 1,366x768 11.6-inch screen and 16GB of built-in storage. Intel claims a battery life of 9.5 hours, with a battery that can be swapped out by a school's IT staff — though CTL only claims eight hours of battery life for its Chromebook.
While those specs are pretty standard for Chromebooks, Intel has added special features that are designed specifically for students and their habits. That includes drop resistance and a spill-resistant keyboard and touchpad to deal with the potential for kids' careless handling. Peel-resistant keys can keep troublemakers from attempting to remove keys from the keyboard, while a built-in handle makes it easier for wee ones to carry the device between classes and back and forth from school and home.
As with the Education 2-in-1 reference design, these Intel-based Chromebooks can handle optional learning accessories like a 30x magnification lens that can be attached to the rotatable video camera. Though it's unclear if they will have some of the same educational software pre-installed on them as the 2-in-1, they do include Google Apps, and each Chromebook can access 100GB of Google Drive online storage free for two years so students can save their work to the cloud. Google also sells a separate management console for a school system's IT staff to handle a fleet of Chromebooks.
CTL says its Education Chromebook will start at $279, but no pricing information has been released yet for M&A Technology's Chromebook.