HP ruggedizes its Chromebook 11 G4 for schools

Chromebooks have reportedly been quite successful in the classroom, and HP is looking at that market with lustful eyes. The company has just unveiled its Chromebook 11 G4 Education Edition, which it describes as a "durable, lightweight" Chromebook.

Indeed, the machine is a mere 0.8" (20 mm) thick and weighs 2.7 lbs (or 1.2 kg). HP says it's clad the Chromebook with molded rubber edges, and the machine can purportedly withstand a 2.3-ft drop—about the height of the average desk. The keyboard is spill-resistant, too, and this Chromebook is entirely fanless. All that ruggedness results in what HP says is the thinnest education-oriented Chromebook to pass MIL-STD tests.

The innards are powered by a Celeron SoC, and the machine's battery should be good for 9.5 hours of usage. The hinge rotates through a full 180° so students can lay the Chromebook flat on a desk. HP offers an IPS screen and 3G/4G networking as options. The Chromebook 11 G4 Education Edition will be available this month starting at $199.

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    • LoneWolf15
    • 5 years ago

    Key requirements for a good educational notebook (or Chromebook):

    -Quality hinges and anchors for them
    -A chassis and frame that isn’t easily cracked
    -A housing that prevents the LCD from being easily broken
    -A solid keyboard that is spillproof, won’t pop its keys or let students pry them off
    -An Intel wireless card (Broadcom and Atheros rarely work as well with WAPs)
    -Battery life that means “I forgot my power cord today” doesn’t matter

    Things that only need to be “acceptable”:
    -Screen. Middle grade, but bright enough.
    -Webcam. Rarely used, at most, needs to be passable for a basic Google Hangout.

    This checks all of the boxes. 3G/4G aren’t needed unless there’s a requirement for a student that can’t afford their own Internet and the school can get it subsidized. The real question is how much RAM there is, and what storage options are available, and whether the state you live in (or K12 buying consortium you’re part of) has worked with HP to negotiate bulk prices at a good rate for K-12 for districts.

      • willmore
      • 5 years ago

      You had me until the Intel wireless. Since I’ve recently been struggling to get a couple of intel wireless cards working well, I have specific reason to disagree.

      The problem I was having was *very* slow TX performance. The two cards in question were a 6300 (ultimate N) and a 7260 (dual band AC). RX performance was great. I’m using an AC1200 capable router and both cards were tested on 5 GHz. The 6300 got ~30MB/s RX and 1-2MB/s TX. The 7260 got ~40MB/s RX and similar TX. RX and TX should have been very similar values.

      Seems a while back, Intel ‘fixed’ a bug where some brands of routers would start transmitting misformatted beacons after a certain amount of uptime. Their fix involved disableing frame aggregation. So, basically capping the TX speeds at ‘g’ speeds. Without frame aggregation, you have to wait a whole RF round trip time between TX packets. That’s huge and, since RTT is a constant and much larger than the actual packet TX time, moving to faster packet TX *does nothing to increase TX throughput*. Good job, Intel.

      Fortunately, there is a way to tell it not to be such a ninny. I turned that switch on and now I get comparable performance on TX as I did on RX.

      The takeaway is that even ‘good brands’ mess up now and then.

      Everything else you say, I agree with.

        • LoneWolf15
        • 5 years ago

        Even good brands mess up…but good brands usually correct their mistakes. Buy a bunch of systems with Atheros chips and see how quickly your issue gets resolved if you have one. I agree Intel hasn’t been perfect, but I’d still choose them first for driver support *and* WAP vendors are more likely to update firmware for an issue with Intel cards than any other brand.

        Dell has notebooks that use their Dell WLAN (mostly Broadcom, but one or two other OEMs under that hood too) wireless cards that advertise 802.11n, then turn out to be 1×1 2.4GHz-only cards that have had issues and been flaky.

        Between Intel, Atheros, Broadcom, Realtek, and Ralink, I still find more consistency with Intel, even though the 7260AC cards had issues at launch (which is mostly over now). I never had issues with the 6300N in my ThinkPad over the years I’ve had it.

    • Chrispy_
    • 5 years ago

    It’s stretching the definition of ‘ruggedizes’ pretty far, but at the same time makes me wonder why only education/school versions get the special ruggedized treatment.

    I see enough devices to know that adults are far clumsier than children and often just as careless.

      • LoneWolf15
      • 5 years ago

      Take it from someone who worked in education; it’s not just carelessness, it’s apathy.

      Education is moving to a 1-to-1 environment at a number of schools; each student is provided a laptop. In theory, that’s nice but in a public school environment, funds are tight, and you can’t charge a child for a laptop. And yet, it’s required to do the work.

      When it doesn’t “belong” to a student, a number of students don’t care. Nor were they raised to in environments with low parental involvement. So they get stuffed under a pile of books in a locker, carried by their hinges, and more. It’s not clumsiness, it’s lack of caring, or outright throwing common sense out the window. And when students know it’s required for work, it’s not like you’ll “deprive” them of one when the teacher is screaming that the snowflake can’t do his/her homework even though it is their fault in the first place. Unless you have administrative staff behind you, you’re stuck being an enabler.

      • One Sick Puppy
      • 5 years ago

      If it’s labled as for “education” educational institutions are probably more apt to gobble it up. Google REALLY wants to get get it’s fingers into the minds of children.

        • Flatland_Spider
        • 5 years ago

        “Education” means it’s the cheap version with a set configuration, which is what is needed when deploying large numbers of these things.

        Chromebooks work really well for the education market since there aren’t a lot of hoops to jump through to lock them down to a browser.

        It’s going to be a sad day when Android gets forced down this pipeline.

    • Kretschmer
    • 5 years ago

    [quote<]MIL-STD [/quote<] Did anyone else read this as "Mother in Law..." and shudder?

      • tipoo
      • 5 years ago

      Forget military standard, if it’s ruggedized against Mother in Laws it must be pretty damn rugged!

    • swaaye
    • 5 years ago

    NV approves of their color scheme.

    • odizzido
    • 5 years ago

    I’d hardly call 1.2kg lightweight. Maybe in 2009 it was decent, but with the cooling requirements of processors being so much lower now it’s at best not terrible.

    I do like the lack of fans though. They’re extremely annoying.

      • tipoo
      • 5 years ago

      Budget models aren’t really ones to push weight savings too far, especially as this is a ruggedized model. The new Macbook is 0.92 kg (2.03 pounds) for comparison, so this doesn’t even fare that bad against pricier lighter models for being ruggedized.

    • willmore
    • 5 years ago

    That looks really nice! I’d rather buy one of these for my kids than an iPad.

      • Redundant
      • 5 years ago

      A well crafted statement applicable to all consumer products.

      • tipoo
      • 5 years ago

      Conversely I’m considering it for my parents! Hah

      An OS that doesn’t give them enough rope to screw things up on would be nice, so Chromebook or iPad, but the traditional clamshell laptop form factor would probably be easier for them to keep using, plus the familiarity of Chrome.

      Spill resistant? Hello, kitchen laptop

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