Chromebooks have made impressive inroads in the educational sector since the company's release of the beta Cr-48 laptop back in 2010. Google's results in the classroom certainly have been strong enough to get Microsoft's attention. Dell has sold several different Chromebooks designed for student use, but the models in its latest Chromebook 5000 Series have features unavailable in the company's previous offerings. The new series contains traditional clamshell laptops as well as 2-in-1 machines with keyboards that tuck behind the screen for tablet-like use.
The new machines have a USB Type-C connector, electromagnetic resonance (EMR) pen support, and multiple options for world-facing cameras (a separate camera module mounted on the keyboard deck for use when the machine is in tablet mode). Dell was pretty tight-lipped about the hardware specs, letting on only that the 5000-series Chromebooks would have dual- and quad-core Celeron processors. We suspect this means Atom-based Celeron N SoCs rather than the higher-performing but more expensive Core-based Celeron U- or Y-series mobile processors. The company didn't offer any information about display, memory, or storage configurations. One of the most important factors in classroom laptops is battery life, and Dell says the Chromebook 5000-series offers up to 13 hours of usage between appointments with a wall outlet.
Dell says the 5000-series Chromebooks have been ruggedized for the rigors of the classroom environment, touting their ability to survive 48" (1.2 m) drop tests and more impressive 30" (76 cm) falls onto a steel surface. The company says its Chromebooks are the first tested to endure 10,000 micro-drops of about 4" (10 cm), simulating a 2-4 year student usage pattern. The machines also have scratch-resistant displays, reinforced hinges, and spill-resistant keyboards.
Dell's Chromebook 5000 Series laptops will start shipping to schools next month with prices starting at $289.