Acer has released a new Chromebook - the C7. Apart from not looking as good as Samsung's Chromebook, it also comes with a HDD and relatively poor battery life.
Google has added a third laptop to its current Chrome OS range with the Acer C7, a budget Chromebook that will sell for under $200 in the US from Tuesday and will arrive in the UK shortly.
The C7 is a three pound laptop with an 11.6-inch, 1366x768 screen powered by a 1.10GHz Intel Celeron 847 processor with 2MB L3 cache and 2GB of DDR3 memory. The unit has a 320GB platter hard drive, plus a two-year free Google Drive account for 100GB of additional online storage (with 802.11 a/b/g/n to get there), and a claimed 3.5 hour battery life. (Source)
Reviews: The Verge / Engadget
As soon as I took the C7 out of its packaging, I started having flashbacks. Flashbacks to a time when no one cared about how a laptop looked or the quality of its materials, a time when we were certain that netbooks were the future. The three-pound, inch-thick laptop is plastic everywhere you look, has exactly no design flair — it comes in silver and black, both boring-looking — and almost no care seems to have been taken in its design or construction. I can easily get my fingernail in the seam between the lid and the bezel around the display, and I'm worried about other things getting in there too. The base's two sections don't come together cleanly, either, and there's a sharp lip on the bottom as a result. Even the hinge sticks out awkwardly behind the base, like it's about to come off. Every part of the C7 bends and flexes as you hold it, and I found myself babying it for fear it would break.
Now why can Acer not release that Acer C7 as a Windows option for just a little bit more, as its better spec'd than a netbook but at the same price if you pop a Windows licence on.
Lenovo are releasing a Chromebook next month. It won't be cheap though.
Today, Lenovo is getting in on the fun with its own Chromebook announcement, but while the Thinkpad X131e Chromebook promises "a rugged design for the classroom environment," you'll pay $429 per laptop to get that extra durability.
Like the Acer C7 Chromebook, the X131e Chromebook is a Chrome OS-equipped version of an existing Windows laptop, also (somewhat confusingly) called the X131e. Google's announcement doesn't include hard specifications aside from mentioning that the laptop uses an Intel processor and has 6.5 hours of battery life. But the $619 Windows version of the X131e includes a 1.4GHz Intel Core i3-2367M, 4GB of RAM, an 11.6-inch 1366x768 screen, a 320GB 7200RPM hard drive, dual-band Wi-Fi, and a mobile broadband option—we assume that Lenovo will go with more or less the same specs for the Chromebook version. Its ruggedness means it weighs quite a bit more than the other 11- and 12-inch Chromebooks Google is selling: it's a hefty 3.92 pounds, compared to three pounds for the C7 and 2.4 pounds for Samsung's ARM Chromebook.
There's no denying that building a $249 or $199 laptop is going to result in some compromises when it comes to build quality, so it's nice that schools (especially schools with younger and perhaps less conscientious students) will have the option to buy something a little more sturdy. There's also no denying that $429 is a big jump up in price, especially for the price-conscious education market. Many who are in the market for a fleet of Chromebooks may simply opt to get a pair of C7s instead of a single X131e.
The X131e Chromebook will be available to educational institutions and businesses starting February 26. As of this writing, Google has no plans to sell this device directly from its Chromebook site or through consumer retail channels, though it's possible that Lenovo will sell it to end users through its own site. (Source)
With regard to TCO, an IDC study based on real school data from schools that had large scale deployments of Chromebooks found the TCO of Chromebooks to be about 30% of that of Windows laptops because of that - and they were no doubt for the higher prices of the old Series 5 Chromebooks. The study isn't entirely independent because it was paid for by Google, but it does tally with what teachers and admins from schools that have deployed it are saying independently, and the data can be independently judged.
It certainly is in line with my experience (not in schools though). I have a Chromebook and Chromebox, and I can vouch for the fact that they are indeed zero-maintenance devices. They are also zero touch devices - which means an IT person never has to touch or log into a Chromebook device. Again this is correct - Chromebooks can be managed using a simple web console for your Google Apps for Domains for your educational or business domain. For example, you can manage users in groups, have certain groups of apps allocated or denied to certain groups of users etc. and changes to the individual devices/user resources will be automatic.
Having transition my previous employer to Google Apps for Domains I can also vouch for the fact that Google Apps for Domains leads to big savings over maintaining a Windows Domain because you do not need any servers locally - no AD server for user authentication, no mailserver, no file and print server. You may want a local Moodle server, but this can be outsourced if required. This means no hardware cost, and very low maintenance cost.
The biggest advantage however is that you don't need to be physically present in a school to manage it. You don't need to touch the devices, you don't need any physical hardware in the school except for wireless routers and networking (the installation of which you can subcontract to others), you can use Google Apps for Domains and the web management console for most of the server functionality that is required, and other server functionality can be hosted on a Rackspace or Amazon server. For IT sysadmins this means you can work from home, and you can manage a larger number of schools over a larger area than you can with in the case of Windows or Macbook laptop environments.
HP has joined the ChromeBook party with its Pavilion Chromebook. Given that it looks cheap and nasty (due to the extensive use of glossy plastic) and the battery only lasts a maximum of 4 hours 15 mins I don't think it's going to get particularly good reviews.
HP is preparing to launch its first entry into the Chromebook marketplace, if a PDF found on its site can be believed. According to this listing, HP's currently-unannounced Pavilion Chromebook will feature a 1.1GHz Celeron processor, 2GB of RAM, a 16GB solid-state drive, and a 14-inch, 1366 x 768 display. That display alone makes HP's Chromebook a bit of an oddity — current models from Lenovo, Samsung, and Acer feature 11.6-inch screens, though they run at the same resolution as HP's model. Besides that screen, there doesn't appear to be much to differentiate HP's model from the currently-available Chromebooks — it has the same processor as Acer's model and the same RAM and storage as the Samsung. Unfortunately, HP is only claiming a relatively short 4 hours and 15 minutes of battery life — far behind the nearly seven hours afforded by Samsung's Chromebook.
While we're a bit concerned that HP's Celeron processor will cause its Chromebook to heat up more and have worse battery life than other options, the real key here is going to be how the computer feels in use — if the keyboard, trackpad, and screen don't perform well, this machine's prospects won't be good. However, we'll have to get our hands on it to find out for sure. Assuming HP prices this device right, it'll be the latest volley in Google's attacks against Microsoft — HP is one of the biggest Windows clients Microsoft has, just like Lenovo, so any strategy shift like this will likely get Microsoft's attention. We're reaching out to HP to find out any details on the Pavilion Chromebook, including price and availability, and will update this post with any new details. (Source)
I wonder what the numbers are like for UK schools?
Google announces that 2,000 schools now use Chromebooks, up 100% in three months « The Next Web
Google is fearlessly trudging on with its Chromebook push in the education market. The company announced on Friday that there are now 2,000 schools using Chromebooks for Education around the world. Just three months ago, there were 1,000 schools, showing an impressive adoption rate so far.
As part of the milestone, Google offered a list of schools that recently joined the Chromebook camp:
- Transylvania County Schools in rural North Carolina deploying 900 devices.
- St. Thomas Aquinas High School in Florida going one-to-one with 2,200 devices.
- Rocketship Education in the Bay Area of California using 1,100 Chromebooks.
Unfortunately, Google likely chose to list the schools taking on large numbers of Chromebooks, so it’s unfair to say each school is adopting about a thousand devices. For all we know, some may be just rolling out a hundred or even less as a test run.