Chromebooks have disrupted the education market, recently shooting past stalwarts like Apple devices and Windows PCs as classroom favorites. But with computer sales continue to drift down, it's an important market continue to invest in technology, so Microsoft has paid more attention as it rolled out Windows 10.
Acer's recently announced TravelMate B117 is an example of that attention. The education-focused laptop is clearly emulating the approach of Chromebooks -- hardly surprising given the company's longtime manufacturing of them -- but with Windows 10 as the operating system instead of Chrome.
Like some recent school-focused Chromebooks.the B117 is built tough to withstand the rigors of kids' not-so-delicate handling, with what Acer calls "a ruggedized frame" and spill-resistant keyboard, though it's not fully rugged like the new HP Chromebook 11 G4 Education Edition. Like that HP, the B117 features a hinged design that allows the 11.6-inch display to lay flat for group viewing.
The B117 debuts the new Acer TeachSmart solution. While this includes some of the cloud-based technology increasingly common in classrooms (in this case, using Microsoft OneNote as the collaboration tool), it also features a built-in LED on the laptop's lid that can function as a status indicator. It can indicate an answer to a multiple choice question, or let a teacher know when a student has finished an assignment.
The new TravelMate will be available in various configurations (you can see one here), with Intel Celeron or Pentium choices, up to 4GB of RAM, and either flash-based or traditional hard drive internal storage. Security is provided by Trusted Platform Module (TPM) support.
Pricing (and availability) hasn't been announced for the B117, but seeing how Chromebooks have succeeded in part due to their low prices (thereby appealing to budget-strapped school districts), we should expect a starting price that's not much different than the typical $199 Chromebook price point.