Dell Debuts Tougher, More Secure Chromebook 11 for Schools

Chromebooks are continuing their push into classrooms, this time with a new model from Dell. The company announced today its new Chromebook 11 for education, along with a similarly sized Latitude laptop for schools and two new Venue tablets.

While it looks the same as the original Dell Chromebook 11 for education, the new model enjoys some notable design upgrades. The display and the keyboard deck are connected by a 180-degree hinge, so its more flexible in students' hands and can be laid completely flat. There are no small crevices or holes for students to spill drink or food in either, thanks to the keys and touchpad being sealed into the keyboard deck.

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The new design has been rigorously tested to withstand even the strongest backpack throws, passing tests that ensure protection from drops, spills, heat, dirt, humidity and vibrations. The Chromebook's information is protected as well, using Dell's KACE systems management console that lets administrators and technicians monitor, control and manage school networks on a district-wide scale.

But the most noticeable difference is the thin, oval light at the top right of the Chromebook's lid. This is Dell's new activity light that shines different colors depending on how the teacher wants to use it in the classroom. Students control the light while using the Chromebook, clicking the appropriate button to change the light which faces the teacher. They can choose, say, red for asking a question, or yellow when they need assistance with a task.

The new Dell Chromebook 11 has decent guts underneath its freshly-redesigned body. It runs on a 2.6GHz Intel Celeron Bay Trail-M N2840 processor, will come a 16GB eMMC SSD hard drive, and will be available with either 2GB or 4GB of memory. It will also come with essential ports for students: one USB 3.0 port, one USB 2.0 port, an HDMI port, an SD card slot and a Kensington lock slot for extra security.

Schools will also have the option to choose from an 11.6-inch Gorilla Glass display or anti-glare touchscreen. Dell reports the new Chromebook 11 will be able to last 10 hours on a single charge, so students will be able to use the notebook all day without worrying about powering up.

Dell is likely trying to keep up with the numerous new Chromebooks coming out, both for education and for consumers. Acer last month announced two new Chromebooks for students, the C740 and C910, which are due later this year. But Dell has put a lot of time and effort into student and teacher products for years - the design touches of this new Chromebook, particularly the activity light, show what the company has learned from being deeply integrated in the education sphere.

The new Chromebook 11 will be the first product available in Dell's new array of education devices: it's available today (Feb. 12) and starts at $249. Also coming out later this year is the Latitude 11 notebook, a smaller version of Dell's Latitude 13 for education, and two new Venue tables. The Dell Venue 10 Pro Series 5000 will run Windows 8.1 and start at $349, and the Android 5.0-based Venue 10 Series 5000 (cost yet to be announced).