Today Dell announced a collection of product updates with a focus on education, with the announcement of a new Chromebook 11, Dell Latitude 11 Education Series, and Venue 10 and Venue 10 Pro tablets. Dell first went after the education market with netbooks and expanded to the Latitude 3340 (Latitude 13 Education Series) as well as their first Chromebook. Last year also saw the launch of the Venue line that did well in education. To that end, all are being updated this year and are purpose built for education.
Among other aspects, Dell notes that the new products are more durable – “schoolyard tough” – which will help them to withstand the rigors of the educational system. The durability includes rubberized trim to help absorb shock if dropped, and the Latitude 11 Education and Chromebook 11 are both subjected to MIL-STD 810G testing for pressure, temperature, shock, and vibration. The two laptops also feature a 180 degree hinge so they can lay flat on a table or other surface if needed, and touchscreens with Gorilla Glass are available as an option.
Starting with the Chromebook 11, the device features a Celeron N2840 processor, anti-glare 1366x768 LCD with optional touch, and 2GB RAM/16GB eMMC storage (and there’s an upgraded model with 4GB RAM). It has a sealed keyboard and touchpad, and as noted above a 180-degree durable hinge so it can lay flat. Hinges have been a major point of failure for Chromebooks in education, and Dell says they specifically went back to redesign and strengthen this aspect so that if, for example, a student picks up the laptop by the screen, it won’t break. Other features include two USB ports (one each USB 3.0 with charging and USB 2.0), 2x2 802.11ac WiFi with Bluetooth 4.0, a Kensington lock, SD card reader, HDMI 1.4, and a 720p webcam for Google Hangouts. The Chromebook 11 weighs 1245g and measures 297x218x20-21mm in the default (non-touch) configuration and it’s rated at up to 10 hours of battery life with a 3-cell 43Wh battery. While it’s technically targeted at education, there’s nothing stopping others from buying and using the Chromebook 11, and with prices starting at $249 it should be reasonably affordable, and it is available starting today.
The Latitude 11 Education (3160) at first looks a lot like the Chromebook 11 but with Windows instead of Chrome OS, but there are actually a few other points of differentiation. Yes, it does run Windows 8.1 or Windows 7 (or an education SKU) and it’s launching on Bay Trail N2840. However, Dell will be moving to Braswell later in June/July, and the Latitude 3160 includes a Gigabit Ethernet port, true SSD (starting at 64GB), and it also has upgradeable RAM. Dell has also strengthened the hinge and it has a sealed keyboard and touchpad, like the above Chromebook. The starting price is apparently $299 (subject to change) with 4GB RAM and a 64GB SSD, with availability slated for March 3, 2015.
Finally, the Venue 10 and Venue 10 Pro are apparently identical other than the choice of OS; I say “apparently” as Dell didn’t provide a full spec sheet for the Venue 10, but things may have changed since our briefing as it looks like the Venue 10 Pro has now moved to Core M instead of Bay Trail hardware, whereas the Venue 10 will apparently use an Atom Z3735 processor (though that may change). Either way, with the Venue 10 Dell is bringing Android into the education system with Lollipop, while the Venue 10 Pro is Windows 8.1 with Windows 10 upgrade.
Both tablets includes a hinge-based keyboard option that the tablet locks into (which is an educational requirement in North America). It’s reversible, works in tent mode, and the tablet can be laid down on top of the keyboard if desired. Also included is a WACOM digitizer for inking, though the stylus is an optional accessory. The keyboard can be purchased separately as a $50 accessory, while the stylus is $32.95 with a loop to attach it to the tablet.
As far as hardware on the Venue 10 Pro, the base model used for education has a 1280x800 LCD, but consumer models with 1080p will exist as well. Dell will have two processor options, the Core M 5Y10c (800-2000 MHz with 4.5W TDP) or a Core M 5Y71 (1.2-2.9 GHz at 4.5W); obviously the later chip should be quite a bit faster. Other features include 2GB LPDDR3-1600 RAM, Windows 8.1 32-bit (Pro is also an option), and 64/128/256 GB of SSD storage. WiFi is provided by a 2x2 802.11ac Intel 7265 adapter, which also support Bluetooth 4.0. The tablet has a front-facing 1.2MP camera and a 5MP rear-facing camera, both with 720p30 video support. Along with a Micro-SD card slot, Dell also includes a full size USB 3.0 port and a micro HDMI port. The Venue 10 Pro measures 280x176x10.75mm and weighs 723g (748g with a WWAN module). Battery life is rated at 10 hours with the 38Wh battery, and the Venue 10 Pro will start at $330 for just the tablet, or $380 for the tablet and keyboard.
While initially it appeared the Venue 10 would be the same hardware, the Venue 10 Pro will be available starting March 3 while the Venue 10 is listed as launching in “Spring 2015”. It could be that Dell is still working on getting Android 5.0 fully working on the platform, or there may be other hardware modifications going on. We were told the starting price would be $300 for the base tablet earlier, but the current press release does not contain any pricing information so that may have changed.
Finally, there are a few other items worth mentioning. One is that the new laptops feature what Dell is calling an interactive activity light. This allows students or teachers to “raise a hand”, ask question, etc. There’s a physical light on the back of the display that is visible to others, while there is also a screen indicator that can be used to facilitate remote learning. Dell also notes that their KACE K1000 version 6.3 software will now support Chrome. KACE is available as a physical, virtual, or hosted appliance and allows management of all systems in the environment. And last but not least, Dell has their Interactive Projector S510 also listed as part of their education initiative, with Miracast and Intel WiDi support; the S510 is available already with a price of $1800.