Dell launches new rugged Chromebook 11 for education

Two new Venue tablets, one running Android 5.0 and the other Windows 8.1, and a Latitude 11 laptop look to join the updated Chromebook in the classroom.

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With the laptop and tablet markets maturing, there are fewer growth areas for manufacturers to exploit, which is likely why there's been so much recent activity in the education space. While schools once seemed the domain primarily of Apple, other companies are looking to cash in on school districts' race to provide students with mobile devices for digital learning.

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In particular, companies have had success with Chromebooks, which are generally cheaper than iPads and have keyboards and larger screens. So when Dell rolled out its new lineup of mobile educational offerings, it led with a new version of its Chromebook 11. The latest model has been upgraded with an anti-glare Corning Gorilla Glass NBT display (with optional touchscreen capabilities) and a liquid-resistant keyboard and touchpad. It also features rubberized trim to protect the Chromebook 11 from kids' less-than-delicate handling.

Dell is touting the laptop's built-in activity light, which can be used not only to indicate answers in interactive quizzes, but also to show when students are online and not paying attention to the lesson. The base $249 model comes with an Intel Celeron N2840 processor, 2GB of RAM, and a 16GB SSD, You can double the RAM for an additional $20.

In addition to the Chromebook, Dell is introducing a new Latitude 11 Education Series laptop for schools that prefer Windows (either Windows 7 or 8.1). Like the new Chromebook 11, the Latitude has the same durability features and 180-degree hinge for the LCD, but is a little pricier. The base $299 model comes with a 250GB hard drive and Celeron processor, according to The Verge, though other specs are still unknown.

For districts still interested in tablets than laptops, Dell unveiled a pair of new Venue slates, one running Windows and the other Android. According to Tom's Hardware, the Windows 8.1-based 10 Pro 5000 packs the Intel Atom Intel Z3735F Bay Trail quad-core processor one of two different Intel Broadwell CPUs -- either the Core M 5Y10c or Core M vPro 5Y71, the latter with additional security features. It also includes 2GB of RAM and either 32GB or 64GB, 128GB, or 256GB of solid-state storage at a starting price of $329.99. The Venue 10 runs Android 5.0 Lollipop, is certified with Google Play for Education, and runs a bit cheaper at $299.

Both Venue models can come with a 1,280x800 or a full HD 10.1-inch display, are equipped with Near Field Communication (NFC), and offer an optional keyboard for $50 more. As with its new education laptops, the tablets come with rubberized trim for extra durability, though they have not been tested to MIL-STD 810G standards like the Chromebook and Latitude systems.