Dell is looking to further invade the education sector with a host of new education-facing products, including the Dell Chromebook 11, Venue 10 and Venue 10 Pro tablets, the Latitude 11 Education Series laptop, and more.
Dell Chromebook 11
Among the group of new products, the Chromebook 11 is perhaps most notable. It's no secret that a big chunk of the market share that Chromebooks are stealing from PCs comes from the education sector, although they're proving popular with general consumers, as well. In the case of the Dell Chromebook 11, it's very much aimed at kids in classrooms, but the company will also sell it as a standalone consumer SKU.
The new Chromebook runs on a dual-core Intel N2840 (Bay Trail, 2.16 GHz) processor and sports 2 GB or 4 GB of RAM. There's 16 GB of eMMC flash storage inside, and there's a front-facing 720p HD webcam. Ports include USB 3.0 with Battery Charging 1.2, USB 2.0, HDMI 1.4, a stereo headphone and mic jack, Kensington lock port and an SD card slot. For audio, there are dual-array mics and stereo front-facing speakers. Dell stated that the 43 WHr battery offers 10 hours of battery life.
|Header Cell - Column 0||Dell Chromebook 11|
|CPU||Intel Celeron Bay Trail-M N2840 (Dual Core, 2.16 GHz)|
|Graphics||Intel HD Graphics for Intel Celeron processors|
|RAM||2GB DDR3L / 4GB DDR3L|
|Display||11.6" Anti-Glare HD LCD or optional Touch HD LCD with Corning Gorilla Glass|
|Storage||16 GB eMMC Solid State Drive|
|Connectivity||Wireless 2x2 LAN Options: 802.11 ac/a/b/g/n + Bluetooth 4.0 and Optional LTE|
|Ports||1x USB 3.0 with BC1.2 charging / 1x USB 2.0 / HDMI 1.4SD/Multi Card SlotKensington lock slotheadphone andmicrophone combo jack|
|Battery||3 cell (43 WHr), 10 hours|
|Dimensions||297.0 x 217.7 x 21.0 mm (WxDxH)|
|Weight||Non-touch: 1245g (2.74 lbs) / Touch: 1320g (2.91 lbs)|
|Misc.||180 degree LCD hingeIntegrated 720p HD video webcam Dual array microphonesFrontFacing Speakers|
Connectivity is handled by a 2x2 802.11ac chip with Bluetooth 4.0. There's an optional LTE version, too.
The 11.6-inch (1366x768) display comes in both anti-glare touch and non-touch versions. The LCD displays are made with Corning Gorilla Glass for durability in tough conditions.
And of course by "tough conditions," we mean a classroom full of school-age children. It's hard to imagine any device lasting long when subjected to daily use by kids, but Dell has done as much as it can to prepare for the worst. In addition to the Gorilla Glass displays, the 180-degree hinge was built to be strong enough that kids can carry the thing by holding the display without breaking.
Both the keyboard and touchpad are sealed to prevent damage from spills and slimy fingers. The whole chassis is built with "strong plastics" to ostensibly limit flexing and cracking. In fact, Dell said that the machine is MIL-STD 810G for drops, dust and dirt, vibrations, heat and humidity.
There's also a special carrying case that's designed so that users can work on the Chromebook without removing it from the case.
The resulting look is not what you'd call attractive, but there is a certain adorable charm to the chunky Dell Chromebook 11. Those protective features may also appeal to average consumers looking for a tough Chromebook for their own—after all, kids can be just as destructive to electronics at home as they are at school. (Every time I see a toddler sucking on an iPhone, I cringe. You?)
The education SKU of the Dell Chromebook 11 comes with the Chrome Whiteglove Treatment from Dell, which just means that the company will manage the devices on site. (Yes, it does cost more.) They'll also feature a little "activity light" that's designed to help teachers monitor student activity as they move about the classroom. Lights can be set to yellow, red or blue.
The Dell Chromebook 11 is priced reasonably well at $249, at least with the base configuration. Dell didn't say how much more you'll have to pay for the touchscreen, LTE option and extra RAM, but we presume that with all the fixin's, the price could land around $300. Once a Chromebook's price tag drifts above $249 or $279, one would argue that the value proposition diminishes significantly.
Dell Venue 10 Pro 5000 & Latitude 11
In addition to the Dell Chromebook 11, Dell announced the Venue 10 Pro 5000 tablet and Latitude 11 laptop, which are also designed for the education market.
The Venue 10 Pro 5000 runs on an Intel Atom Z3735F (up to 1.83 GHz, quad-core) and has a 10.1-inch 1280x800 display, 2 GB LPDDR3-1333 MHz RAM, and 32 GB or 64 GB eMMC SSD storage. It offers Windows 8.1 (32-bit), Windows 8.1 Pro (32-bit) or Windows 8.1 Pro Shape the Future (32-bit).
Here’s the full list:
|Header Cell - Column 0||Dell Venue 10 Pro 5000 (5055)|
|CPU||Intel Atom processor Z3735F (up to 1.83GHz Quad-core)|
|Graphics||Intel HD Graphics|
|Display||10.1" 1280x800 HD with touch10.1" 1920x1200 HD with touch (for consumer configurations)|
|Memory||2GB LPDDR3 1333 MHz|
|Storage||32GB or 64GB eMMC SSD|
|Audio||Dual micsStereo speakers|
|Connectivity||Intel 7160/4G LTE/HSPA+ Mobile Broadband Card|
|Cameras||Integrated 1.2MP front/5MP back; 720 p video at 30 FPS|
|Ports||Full-size USBMicro HDMIBT 4.0GPS (with LTE)Proximity (with LTE)AccelerometerGyroscopee-Compass|
|Battery||32 Whr Lithium Ion battery|
|Dimensions||262.6 x 9.9 x 175.8 mm (WxDxH)|
It starts at $329.99, which is not too shabby a deal considering the attractive features. Even with the optional keyboard (other accessories include a stylus, protective case and rotating folio case), it's just $379.99. The catch is that because this is a national academic SKU, the Windows 8.1 (32-bit) OS onboard is free (and will be a free upgrade to Windows 10). Microsoft is effectively subsidizing these devices – for schools. If you want to buy one as a consumer, you're out of luck.
There's also a lower-spec'd Venue 10 that runs Android 5.0 Lollipop and costs $299 ($349 with the keyboard).
The Latitude 11 laptop was designed as a little brother to the Latitude 13, and Dell told us that the impetus behind the 11.6-inch model was simply that its education customers were asking for it.
The Latitude 11 has the same 180-degree hinge and sealed keyboard and touchpad as the Dell Chromebook 11 (the kids, remember). There are Intel Celeron and Pentium processor options, SSD storage, touch and non-touch display options, and the choice between Windows 7 and Windows 8.1. Dell also added an Ethernet port, based on feedback from users who wanted it. The price starts at just $299—again, thanks in part to that sweet, sweet national academic SKU Windows discount—and thus, there is no consumer version available.
Dell also offers a nifty cart that stores (and charges) these devices, so classrooms can keep the goods locked up safely when needed. For easier management, schools can opt for Dell KACE K1000 version 6.3 management appliance ($8,900 for the appliance and 100 managed systems) and Pro Support Plus for PCs and Tablets.
Update, 1:15pm PST, 13 Feb: Dell originally gave us incorrect specifications for the Venue 10 Pro 5000. The company reached out to us to remedy the error. We have redacted the incorrect data in the chart and replaced it with the correct information. We also altered the text to reflect those changes.