The 1.8kg Chrome OS machine is kitted out with a reinforced cover and hinges, rubberised edges and corners, and a battery life of 6.5 hours, which should just about last for a full school day. It is powered by an Intel Celeron processor and comes with 16GB of built-in storage to compliment the 100GB offered through the Google Drive cloud platform for two years.
It also has an 11.6-inch display and a webcam, and also boasts ports including three USB, an ethernet, an HDMI and a VGA. Samsung, Acer and HP have released machines running the Chrome OS operating system but up until now none have been targeted specifically at the education sector.
He said school children of all ages can use Chromebooks in the classroom and at home as a learning tool for doing research and collaborating with classmates using the preinstalled Google Apps for Education, such as Gmail, Google Docs and Google Calendar.
Casap said IT administrators can roll out Chromebooks in schools using the web-based management console which allows them to set up and manage users, apps and policies across a fleet of Chrome devices. "It doesn't matter which device a sixth grader logs into; they're going to get the experience set up for that sixth grader," he said.
Many key functions on the Chromebooks now work offline but in order to get the most out of the devices a reliable internet connection is required. "We need good broadband in our schools even with the offline capabilities," said Casap. "We have to look at broadband the way we look at electricity, cooling and heat. It's part of our infrastructure now and we have to build it."