Specifically built to withstand the abuses inherent to an instruction environment, this year old Dell Chromebook 11 features a strong build housed at a dull design. The Chromebook 11 ($249, £170, AU$320) looks more like a business laptop with its understated looks, but Dell asserts its purpose-built design signifies that this notebook should endure drops, water spills, dust and dirt and many things that the unpleasant academic K-12 environment throws at it.
Immediate competitors in this rocky space comprise Acer's 11-inch Chromebook C740 ($249, £170, AU$320) and 15-inch Chromebook C910 ($299, £200, AU$385). Dell's new Latitude 11 ($299, £194, AU$386), that swaps Chrome OS for Windows at a similar form factor, is also an excellent rugged candidate for the instruction section.
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People of us who don't require the rugged design and select form more durability will locate the Samsung Chromebook 2 ($249, £154, AU$282), Toshiba Chromebook ($279, £167, AU$309), along with Lenovo N20p ($329, £210, AU$380) to become solid options. The newly declared all-metal Asus Flip ($249, £167, AU$327) includes a hybrid 360-degree hinge, letting it change into different form factors, such as use for a tablet.
Home users who might not have budget limitations might locate more powerful systems everywhere. The 11-inch MacBook Air ($899, £605, AU$1,155) is a persuasive alternative given its small footprint, solid aluminum construction, and portability. Apple packs its completely free productivity software with OS X, and unlike Chrome OS, the Air may be used as a normal notebook without needing a continuous tether to the internet.
Contrary to Asus, which will be hoping to reinvent the Chromebook category with its 360-degree hinge about the Flip, Dell is taking a more measured approach in making a durable product that will endure daily pupil use and abuse.
Because of the rugged structure, Dell's Chromebook 11 ends up marginally bigger and thicker than the competition. Compared to Toshiba's Chromebook 2, a device using a bigger 13.3-inch panel that steps 12.6 x 8.4 x 0.76 inches (32.0 x 21.3 x 1.9cm), the Chromebook 11 occupies virtually the exact same footprint in 11.69 x 8.57 x 0.83 inches (29.7 x 21.8 x 2.1cm). Acer's C740 using a comparable 11.6-inch display is somewhat more compact than the Dell model at 11.3 x 8 x 0.79 inches (28.7 x 20.3 x 2.0cm).
Using a touchscreen, the 2.91-pound (1.32kg) Dell Chromebook 11 is thicker than the Acer C740's 2.87-pound (1.30kg) weight. Without a touchscreen, Dell's model is simply 2.74 lbs (1.24kg). The Chromebook 11's burden is about on par with all the 11-inch category, and remains mild enough for pupils to carry around each day.
What sets the Dell Chromebook 11 besides others on the marketplace is its own rugged design. Dell asserts that its newest Chromebook 11 moves US Military Standard testing for durability, filth, dust, stress, humidity, temperature, vibration and shock"so it may handle student existence."
To fulfill those durability asserts, Dell cloaks its own Chromebook 11 at a sound, matte black plastic case, a design option that hides scratches, dirt and fingerprints nicely. A rubber bumper across the borders of the Chromebook 11 helps shield the notebook in case it has dropped.
Acer's education-centric Chromebook offerings include reinforced hinge designs and strengthened corners, but lack the full rubber bumpers along with the sealed keyboard and trackpad of the Dell Chromebook 11.
About the Chromebook 11, the touchscreen is an optional update, and it enables students another method to interact with all the information in their Chromebook beyond the keyboard and trackpad.
Another feature that sets the Chromebook 11 apart from the competition is the augmented barrel hinge. Does the barrel hinge permit the lid to be opened around 180 degrees for greater peer cooperation, Dell states that it's also very sturdy. As pupils would often grab and carry the Chromebook from the lid, the barrel design will help to reduce tension and prevent the hinge out of breaking up.
The hinge also houses loud, forward-firing speakers.
The non-backlit keyboard is amazingly agreeable to use. With nearly full-size keys - the keys are about 1/16 inches more narrow than the keys on a 15-inch MacBook Pro - typing is comfy. The keys are really elastic, but lack the key journey of a full-size laptop keyboard.
There is a dedicated row of Chrome shortcut keys on top of the keyboard. The trackpad on the Chromebook 11 is very responsive, and that I found cursor monitoring to be true.
Along with the strengthened barrel hinge, the Chromebook 11 includes a waterproof keyboard and trackpad - features that are typically found on more expensive business laptops, such as the Lenovo ThinkPad T450s ($881, £591, AU$1,131).
The waterproof keyboard ensures that the Chromebook 11 may be used in science labs and other toxic education surroundings.
For those opting to get a touchscreen model, the Corning Gorilla Glass NBT screen can help to protect the display from scratches.
Though the dual-core Celeron Bay Trail-M processor does not really have the raw performance of the Intel Broadwell chip inside this season's Google Chromebook Pixel ($999, £799, AU$1,277), performance on the Dell Chromebook 11 is very smooth.
Given that many computing action on a Chromebook is going to be accomplished via the cloud rather than about the device - and also that many Chromebook users will not be running hefty video editing programs -"downgrading" into a Atom-based processor on the Dell model brings a great deal of significance for the performance.
In real-world use, performance of the Chromebook 11 is much like the Toshiba Chromebook 2. Both models share the exact same processor, RAM and screen resolution, but the Toshiba model includes a bigger 13-inch display.
I had about 15 tabs running into 3 different browser windows without any slow downs about the Chromebook 11. The Chromebook 11 is fast, responsive, and displayed without any flaws.
The Intel Celeron chipset's performance seems better compared to the ARM CPU about the competing Acer Chromebook 13, which runs on Nvidia's Tegra K1 processor, also exhibited marginally diminished performance when analyzed by Techtnet.
Regrettably, lacking the in-plane switching (IPS) screen technology of the Toshiba Chromebook 2's display, the Chromebook 11 has narrower viewing angles. The 180-degree hinge design mitigates this somewhat since it enables students to nevertheless have peer cooperation once the screen is set flat.
In my testing, I found that though the screen is satisfactorily bright inside with a 200-nit evaluation, I fought with the display outdoors since the screen was too dim, even at full brightness.
Surprisingly, audio produced by the stereo speakers came out clear and loud. In reality, in the loudest volume, audio produced by the Chromebook 11 may fill a room.
When watching YouTube review videos, educational TED Chat videos, and streaming audio on Pandora, I preferred to maintain the quantity between 50% and 80%. I found that there was little distortion at volumes greater than 80%, and at that level the audio lacked fullness.
Having a stated battery life of 10 hours, the Chromebook delivers an all-day computing experience. For classroom use, this usually means that teachers will not have to recharge Chromebooks between courses or at the center of classes, and pupils will not have to find power outlets when employing the Chromebook 11.
In real-world use, with screen brightness set to approximately 60%, the Chromebook 11 lasted for just more than eight hours on a single charge. In my testing, I surfed the web, handled my mails, watched a couple of marketing and advertising videos on YouTube, edited documents in Google Docs and Google Sheets, checked the information on Feedly and conducted Google search in the Chrome browser.
Eight hours is enough to get through a full school day, however pupils who carry their particular Chromebook 11 probably will want to bill the Chromebook at some stage throughout the day if they plan on utilizing the netbook after-school for homework or other curricular functions.
Collaboration and communication
Dell has produced a useful means to use technology to boost classroom participation. The Dell action lighting is a tool that promotes communication and participation.
For students who might be too shy to raise their hands or talk in class, the action light alerts teachers when a student would like to join a dialogue or has a query. Students may click or tap the appropriate icon on the accompanying app on the Chromebook, and also a corresponding light will appear on the lid to alert the teacher.
A blue light signifies the student would like to participate. A red light indicates that a student has a question. And eventually, a yellowish light alerts the teacher that the student might require more time or might not have understood the stuff presented.
To handle the Chromebook 11, Dell offers a simple enterprise mobility management solution through its KACE program. School IT administrators may use the Dell KACE K1000 Systems Management Appliance as a comprehensive systems management strategy to inventory Chromebooks.
Dell also sells a $1,899 (£1,280, AU$2,450) mobile computing cart that could store up to 30 devices at one moment. The cart, when used inside a classroom environment, enables teachers to lock the Chromebooks for protected storage. Moreover, the cart can also be a charging heart, enabling teachers to quickly charge around 30 Chromebook 11 laptops instantly.
The worth of running Chrome OS about the Chromebook 11 is that it takes hardly any maintenance. Unlike utilizing Windows systems that need continuous OS upgrades, anti virus software, along with a powerful CPU and GPU to handle computing tasks, the Chromebook 11 is a physical device that connects to the cloud to perform heavy lifting.
Students simply have to sign in the Chromebook 11 using their Google ID and Google will maintain Chrome OS continuously upgraded in the background. As users are mainly running web apps, not much computing power is necessary provided that the faculty has a strong wireless connection.
Do not allow the understated aesthetics of the Chromebook 11 fool you. Dell packed with features that are typically reserved for more expensive business notebooks in to its Chromebook 11 in a bid to make a lasting product for the education marketplace. From the Chromebook 11, you will come across a 180-degree augmented hinge, rugged design, sealed keyboard and trackpad, and also a excellent typing experience inside a portable package. Along with utilizing the Chromebook for college, pupils will appreciate the loud stereo speakers for multimedia and amusement.