This week, Acer announced several new Chromebooks at the education-focused Bett show in London. For the channel, the key one is Acer Chromebook 11 C732, which is aimed at the education market, and contains ruggedized features designed to stand up to the destructive tendencies of smaller kids. At the same time, they announced the Acer Chromebox CXI3, about which rather less information was provided. Finally. Acer announced the Chromebook Spin 11 CB311-1H/1HN, a convertible Chromebook. It will go through the retail channel, however, and isn’t a reseller offering.
The commercial market for Chromebooks has changed somewhat in the last few years, with the old emphasis on rock-bottom price no longer the determining factor.
“The market today is less focused on price, and more focused on durability, reliability and performance,” said Corrina Chao, Business Manager – North America Mobility for Acer America. “Chromebooks are now widely accepted as a great tool for students since they encourage collaboration, are easy to use, support education apps, and encourage communication between students and their teachers.”
The main new channel product here, the Acer Chromebook 11 C732, is not an overly expensive item within the range of the commercial notebook market, but Acer is really emphasizing its rugged features, and ability to stand up to rough use from younger students. They include an IP41-rating that assures protection against condensation and small wire entry, drop testing up to 4 feet, a spill-resistant keyboard and compliance with U.S. Military Standard [MIL-STD 810G].
“The new Chromebox 11 C732 has durability that really sets it apart,” Chao said. “The durability has been a huge differentiator for the Acer brand and has helped secure attention from schools. In addition, the fact that it is designed specifically for education customers further set it apart.
“Young students are rough on nearly everything they own – and that includes electronic devices,” Chao added. The Chromebook 11 C732 is incredibly durable. It adheres to the MIL-STD 810G, so it provides drop protection through the external rubber bumper as well as the internal structure. This features protect the device from drops as well as from potential crushing, such as times when kids may stand on their backpack or pack it between books. The device is also IP41 rated, which means it offers intrusion protection against small objects and dripping water, which is great for students who may take it outside for projects. Also, the keyboard is both resistant to tampering since the keys are recessed and to water spills through a unique design that routes water away from internal components. These keep the systems up and running, which reduces downtime for repairs.”
Chromebook adoption in Canadian schools has been steadily on the rise over the last three years. Data from FutureSouce, a consulting firm which tracks the EdTech market, found that Chromebook sales in the first half of 2017 were up by 43 per cent – compared to a 29.7 per cent increase in 2014.
“We are the number 1 seller of Chromebooks in North America for the education space for the third year in a row,” Chao said.
The Acer Chromebook 11 comes with either an 11.6-inch IPS touch screen display (C732T) or a non-touch IPS or TN display (C732). Both have a hinge that opens a full 180 degrees, allowing it to lay flat on a desk for group work. Both displays have a 1366×768 HD resolution. The Intel Celeron dual-core processor N3350 and Intel Celeron quad-core processor N3450 are the processor choices.
These machines have a long 12 hour battery life, a fanless design, and a weight of 2.78 lb. It will also have optional 4G LTE connectivity, but the LTE configurations for North America will not be announced until the products come to market in March. Pricing starts at US$299.99/CAD$409.99 for touch models and US$279.99/CAD$379.99 for non-touch models.
Acer has made far fewer details available about the other channel product, the Acer Chromebox CXI3. It’s also for the education and commercial markets. They will have more oomph, with 8th Gen Intel Core processors. They will also have more connectivity options, with a USB 3.1 Type-C Gen 1 port, five USB Type-A ports supporting USB 3.1 and USB 2.0 depending on model, one HDMI port, one Gigabit Ethernet port, and a MicroSD card reader. Acer is saying that it is great choice for desktop scenarios in computer labs and libraries.
Pricing and availability for the CX13 will not be available until the devices come to market.