Acer announces four rugged convertible notebooks at BETT London
During the British Educational Training and Technology Show (BETT) in London last week, the company announced the availability of two new 360-degree convertible notebooks and one 180-degree flexible notebook for students, each featuring MIL-STD 810G military grade durability – the Chromebook Spin 11, Chromebook 11 N7 and TravelMate Spin B1. While each design features its own classroom ruggedness characteristics, early reports have noted that the difference between a Celeron or a Pentium processor, along with the inclusion of USB-C ports, may make the difference when educators choose between deploying Windows-based notebooks or Chromebooks for individual classroom environments.
TravelMate Spin B1 – features connected student LED lighting system
Acer TravelMate Spin B1 (B118)
The Acer TravelMate Spin B1 (B118) is a 11.6-inch Windows-based convertible notebook for classrooms featuring a durable, pressure-resistant screen with a shock-absorbent bumper and spill-resistant keyboard, a 360-degree hinge for learning flexibility, and up to 13 hours of battery life. The notebook features Acer’s intuitive TeachSmart software package that communicates with multi-colored LED lights on each student’s notebook cover to allow them to easily communicate with the teacher, request class materials, take quizzes and even ask for restroom breaks.
Technical specifications include the option of an HD (1366x768p) or Full HD (1920x1080p) display, an Intel Pentium processor with Intel HD graphics, the option of 2 to 4GB of RAM and an undisclosed amount of storage. It features dual-band 802.11ac MU-MIMO Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.0, two USB 3.0 ports, a single USB 2.0 port, and an HDMI port for connected external displays. The notebook also includes an SD card reader, a Windows Precision touchpad for additional input accuracy, and an active stylus with support for the latest Windows Ink suite.
The notebook will be available to education and commercial customers beginning in Q2 2017.
Chromebook Spin 11 – lower priced alternative with USB-C ports
Acer Chromebook Spin 11 (R751T)
The Acer Chromebook Spin 11 (R751T) is another 11.6-inch design similar to its Windows-based counterpart, with the main difference being its native out-of-the-box support for Android apps via the Google Play Store at a slightly lower price. Another smaller difference is that the notebook uses a Wacom Electro-Magnetic Resonance (EMR) touch display that enables stylus input similar to the natural smoothness of writing using a pen and paper. The notebook also features a 360-degree dual-torque hinge that allows the notebook to be used in tent, stand, tablet or notebook mode, features up to 10 hours of battery life, and includes two USB-C ports for video output, data and charging.
Technical specs include the choice of a quad-core Intel Celeron N3450 processor (1.10GHz, 2.20GHz with Burst) with 6W TDP, or a dual-core Intel Celeron N3350 (1.10GHz, 2.40GHz with Burst) with 6W TDP, Intel HD Graphics, up to 8GB of LPDDR4 memory and the choice of 32GB or 64GB of integrated flash storage. In addition to a 5-megapixel camera above the keyboard, the notebook includes what Google is calling a “World View Camera,” a 1-megapixel rear facing lens designed to be used in tablet mode that allows students to turn it into a microscope. The device weighs 3.1 pounds (1.41kg) and will be available later this spring at presumably a lower price than its Windows counterpart.
ASUS introducing similar Chromebook Flip C213 – modular construction with USB-C ports
As an aside, we would like to note that Google's other partner ASUS will be releasing a similar device called the Chromebook Flip C213. This is another 11.6-inch ruggedized design with a 360-degree hinge, rubber bumpers and features “modular construction” to allow IT admins to quickly replace pieces of the chassis – such as the keyboard – in the event that students manage to deface them.
The notebook includes two USB-C ports, one on each side, for video output, data and faster charging. Just like the Acer Spin 11, it will also feature a “World View Camera” designed to be used in tablet mode that allows students to turn it into a microscope. While ASUS has not revealed many specs about this machine, it is likely to include a similar Intel Celeron processor with Intel HD graphics and will come with a low-cost stylus resembling a #2 pencil used for drawing and taking notes. Pricing has yet to be announced, but it should also available later this spring.
Acer Chromebook 11 N7 with 180-degree flat hinge
At CES a few weeks ago, Acer first announced the 11.6-inch Chromebook 11 N7 with classroom-ready features including a fanless design, a ruggedized chassis and a 180-degree flat hinge for extra durability, and a spill-resistant keyboard that can drain up to 11 ounces of fluid. This notebook features military standard (MIL-STD 810G) certification for withstanding drops of up to four feet (1.22 meters), as well as up to 132 pounds (59.9kg) of downward force on the. It will be available with either an IPS Touch display (C731T) (1366x768p) or a standard non-touch (C731) (1366x768p) for greater budgeting flexibility for large school districts.
Other specs include a dual-core Intel Celeron N3060 processor (1.60GHz, 2.48GHz with Burst) with a 6W TDP, Intel HD graphics, up to 4GB of LPDDR3 1600MHz memory, and the choice of 16GB or 32GB of eMMC storage. The notebook includes a front-facing 720p HD webcam, 802.11ac dual-band Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.0, two USB 3.0 ports, an SD card reader, an HDMI port and a 3.5mm headphone jack.
As for dimensions and pricing, the notebook measures 0.87 inches thick, weighs 2.98lbs (1.35kg), and includes a 3-cell 4090mAh battery offering up to 12 hours on a single charge. It is now available in granite gray at a starting price of $229 in the US and will show up this month in EMEA markets for €299.
Acer Matsu-themed sea goddess notebook coming to Taiwan
In addition to its education-oriented and low-priced Chromebook lineups for 2017, the company will also be releasing a notebook design for its local Taiwan market that has apparently been blessed in the name of the local sea goddess Matsu. The Windows-based notebook will be characterized as a symbol of good luck and success, and is based on the folklore tradition of revering the patron of seafarers, or Queen of Heaven, among Chinese fishermen and sailors in 10th century coastal regions of China. The notebook will run a custom version of Windows featuring Matsu-related themes and can be personalized for users.
Google continues optimizing Creative Cloud apps for Chromebooks
Recently, Google has also revealed that Adobe’s latest suite of Creative Cloud apps for Android . These include Photoshop Mix, Lightroom Mobile, Illustrator Draw, Photoshop Sketch, Adobe Comp CC, and Creative Cloud Mobile. As of now, most Android apps on Chrome OS are still in beta and are not able to be freely resized to accommodate higher pixel resolutions. The redesigned applications will be available for IT administrators to curate for each classroom setting and teaching environment later in February.