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January 25, 2018

Dell teases new rugged Chromebooks, daring young students to roughen them up

by John_A

Dell introduced a new “5000 Series” family of Chromebooks during the Bett Show 2018 education-themed convention. The first model in the series is the Chromebook 5190 packing an 11.6-inch screen relying on the traditional clamshell hinge, or a 360-degree 2-in-1 hinge enabling notebook, tent, stand, and tablet modes. Both are designed to specifically withstand the rough handling of students. 

“Dell is the first Chromebook manufacturer with the ability to claim its devices can withstand 10,000 micro-drops,” the company boasts. “With 4-inch drops performed in multiple angles, Dell could replicate student device damage seen at two to four-year usage.” 

Dell essentially applied what it’s learned and designed over the years with its “ruggedized” laptops and tablets for business to its new line of Chromebooks. Dell says the main ingredients include scratch-resistant screens, spill-resistant keyboards, sturdy hinges, and a solid shell to help protect the innards from frequent drops. 

Unfortunately, we don’t have any hardware specifics for now. The company merely states that its new Chromebooks feature a world-facing camera on some configurations, USB-C connectivity, a battery promising up to 13 hours, and support for electro-magnetic resonance pens. These peripherals support direct input on the screen without the need for cables or a battery. 

According to Dell, all units will be based on two- and four-core Intel Celeron processors. Again, we don’t have any specifics, but Dell’s older 11.6-inch Chromebook 3180 relies on the two-core Celeron N3060 chip with a base speed of 1.6GHz and a maximum boost speed of 2.48GHz. Dell may stay within the Celeron “N” processor series by possibly using the recently released four-core N4100 and two-core N4000 chips. 

Dell serves up the current Chromebook 3180 with four customization starting points. Options include 2GB or 4GB of system memory, 16GB or 32GB of storage, and a 42WHr battery. The port complement consists of two USB-A 3.1 Gen1 ports, a full HDMI port, a headphone/microphone combo jack, and a Micro SD card slot for additional storage.  

Dell will likely offer a 13.3-inch 5000 Series Chromebook in the near future, too. Dell’s current model, the Chromebook 3380, relies on an older two-core Intel Celeron C855U chip, 4GB of system memory, and between 16GB and 64GB of storage. This larger unit includes the same port count as the 3180 but relies on a larger 56WHr battery.  The updated version will likely be the Chromebook 5390 if and when it hits the market this year. 

Finally, Dell says Google will automatically keep the Chrome OS platform up to date until November 2023. Dell’s new Chromebook will also likely support Google Play and Android-based apps given the 3180 and 3380 Chromebooks reside on Google’s Chrome OS “Stable Channel” list regarding Android support. That means the Chromebook may offer up to 64GB of storage, and a Micro SD card slot if the internal capacity isn’t enough for your student’s needs. 

The various Chromebook 5190 configurations will be made available sometime in February for a starting price of $289. 

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