News Corp education unit launches $299 Android tablet

The media conglomerate's education arm is set to launch a low-cost Android tablet for the classroom in a bid to take a chunk away from the ever-growing iPad in education market.
Written by Zack Whittaker, Contributor

News Corp. is pushing further into the education space as its Amplify digital education group unveils a new budget $299 Android "Jelly Bean"-based tablet for the classroom.

The media conglomerate, better known for its ties with Fox News and The Wall Street Journal, among others, created its Amplify unit in mid-July last year. Through a partnership with AT&T, the unit planned to launch a low-cost 4G-enabled tablet for the K-12 market. 

And today, it made good on that promise. 

The Asus-powered Amplify tablet. (Credit: Amplify)

Reported by the Financial Times of London (paywalled), the 10-inch device will be available for the upcoming 2013-2014 school year and will include a range of pre-loaded software from traditional publishers — such as the Encyclopedia Britannica — and from education startups.

The $299 tablet comes with a $99-per-year subscription to Amplify's education software, making the price point lower than most rival tablets out there on the market. A premium tablet is also available with a 4G plan for $349 with a $179-per-year, two-year subscription.

It also comes with Google Apps for Education for outsourced cloud-based communications and services. Crucially, also, the tablet will run for 8.5 hours of battery life on a single charge, according to the company, along with a swappable battery and support for external keyboards — making these devices as low-cost as low-end PCs.

It goes almost without saying: the education market is a strong, burgeoning portion of the wider enterprise market. (Yes, schools and colleges are de facto enterprises, too.) Spending in this area is tight but many are aggressively targeting the textbook and education market in a bid to gain an in-road into the already highly competitive and lucrative market. 

The hope is that cash-strapped education systems around the U.S. will garner the support of local districts all the way up to federal government in a bid to tap into the education space, which at the moment isn't quite dominated by Apple's iPad but is certainly making waves among the education enterprise sector.

Apple, for instance, provides iBooks and desktop e-book publishing software, launched more than a year ago at an education event in New York.

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