Dell introduces Chromebook 11 laptop for education market

The company's first notebook running Google's Chrome OS will debut next month and be priced under $300.
Written by Sean Portnoy, Contributor

Chromebooks, inexpensive laptops running Google's Chrome operating system, have polarized people, with some hailing their browser-based computing model as the future, while others have faulted the meager specs of many of the systems. The merits of Chromebooks, or the lack thereof, have even led to a recent Great Debate here on ZDNet. No matter which side of the debate you fall on, however, one thing is clear: Chromebooks are only going to increase in number in the near future.

That's in part thanks to Dell, which has announced that it is joining the likes of Acer, HP, and Samsung (not to mention Google's own Chromebook Pixel) by releasing its first Chromebook. The company says it's targeting its Chromebook 11 at the education market, a logical decision given its budget price and reliance on cloud-based computing services. (It's also the latest in a string of new education-oriented devices from Dell, from the Latitude 3330 laptop to a special version of the Latitude 10 Windows 8 tablet.) 

As with many other Chromebooks, Dell's debut model has decidely low-end specs, from the Intel Celeron 2955U processor to the mere 16GB of solid-state storage. It even has a configuration with 2GB of RAM, along with one that has the more mainstream 4GB. (It also includes an 11.6-inch screen, and Dell claims up to 10 hours of battery life between charges.) But many argue that the emphasis on component choices is beside the point when it comes to Chromebooks, as files are stored online and Chrome doesn't require quad-core processors and tons of RAM to run efficiently.

Dell touts its Wyse PocketCloud app for use with the Chromebook 11, allowing students and teachers to create a "personal cloud" to share files across various devices by making use of the Google infrastructure. The app will be available next month in the Google Chrome Web Store, roughly the same time frame for when the Chromebook 11 itself will be released.

Dell has not confirmed the exact pricing for either the 2GB or 4GB configuration of the Chromebook 11, but it claims that they will sell for "below $300" on the company's website starting in January. 

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