Acer has taken to the UK's BETT education technology conference to complement its Chromebook lineup for students, educators, and enterprise with a range of new Chromebooks in the 11.6-inch category. Specifically, those were introduced as the Acer 'Chromebook Spin 511', 'Chromebook 311', and 'Chromebook Spin 311'. As the names imply, Spin variations differentiate from the other new Chromebooks by featuring a 360-degree hinge, among other things.
Acer has diversified the new lineup further via versions with touch or non-touch displays, other optional inclusions, and two further variants featuring AMD hardware inside. That means there's a ton of new options to discover and plenty of variety to suit every niche of the education market for Chromebooks. Bringing all of the devices together under their respective designations, there are also plenty of similarities.
To begin with, all of the latest Acer Chromebooks aimed at the education sector are compliant with the US Military Standard for ruggedization MIL-STD 810G. They additionally align with safety standards ordinarily reserved for to toys -- ASTM F963-16 and UL/IEC 60950. Ports built into that frame are almost identical as well with Acer opting to include two USB 3.0 standard ports and two Type-C 3.1 ports. The latter of those are capable of 5Gbps transfer speeds, reverse charging, and display output.
A Kensington lock slot is incorporated alongside those ports so that the devices can be locked down to a desk or in an area. That means that those devices that are intended to stay in a computer lab or a designated classroom won't accidentally wander off with students. Communications are possible thanks to an Acer wide-angle HD webcam on each device set just above the IPS display, included as either an option or standard. Up to Bluetooth 5.0 is utilized for local wireless connections.
Software across the board is ubiquitous, supporting the latest version of Chrome OS and the IT administrative tools required to keep devices up to date and configure control settings and oversight. That includes oversight of Android apps, with support being included out-of-the-box to ensure students and educators have access to all of the apps and other software they'll need. Multiple students will be able to sign into each device with their respective Gmail account, as is standard on Chrome OS gadgets.
The Acer Chromebook Spin 511
The Acer Chromebook Spin 511, model number R752T, ships in a 360-degree hinged design and is engineered to withstand drops from up to 48-inches. It’s also capable of holding out against up to 132lbs of downward force. An anti-microbial coated Corning Gorilla Glass adds an additional layer of safety to its 11.6-inch display, enabling use across multiple students.
Since the design is intended to be convertible, Acer offers the option to embedded a second camera for snapping photos or shooting videos outside of the usual webcam limitations. The camera is rated at 5-megapixels.
A Wacom EMR stylus is available too with at least one variant of the device.
Internally, the R752T is powered by either Intel's most recent dual-core Celeron N4000 chip or its quad-core Celeron N4100 chip. Acer hasn't provided details regarding how much RAM will be backing up those processors or how much storage will be made available.
Gigabit Wi-Fi is included in the package via the standard 802.11ac protocol and with compatibility for 2 x 2 MU-MIMO.
The Acer Chromebook 311 & Chromebook Spin 311
Acer's Chromebook 311 comes in no fewer than four variants, including two that are running on AMD's latest chipsets. Each of those is utilizing the same Wi-Fi protocol as the Acer Chromebook Spin 511. On the Intel side of the equation, sold as model numbers C733T and non-touch C733 the same processors are used here as in the Chromebook Spin 511 too. As implied by the names, the C733T is a touch-enabled display variant of the C733.
What the Chromebook 311 adds to Acers new 11.6-inch family of education devices is a keyboard with spill-resistance for up to 11-fluid ounces. Fluids are diverted out the bottom of the chassis, making the device perfect for use in science labs or other classes where liquids will be present, whether its used by an educator or student.
The Chromebook 311 series keyboard is tamper-resistant as well to ensure it isn't torn apart by more finicky students. Touchpads on this series are also moisture resistant.
The Acer Chromebook 311 and Chromebook Spin 311, sold as model numbers C721T and R721T, keep everything that makes the Intel version great but they swap out the Intel processors for AMD silicon.
Both are powered by a seventh-generation AMD A4-9120C chip coupled with integrated Radeon graphics. By offering both AMD and Intel chips, Acer is enabling IT admins to weigh the tradeoffs with each design and select the best option for a given class. AMD's chips also tend to be more affordable, so AMD Chromebooks lean in that direction too, allowing for some savings where those are best suited to a classroom's daily activity.
The AMD variant of the Chromebook C311 differentiates itself further from the Intel versions in terms of display technologies as well. While the 'Spin'-designated device includes the same anti-microbial display found in the Acer Chromebook Spin 511, the clamshell laptop does not. The standard variation on the design also doesn't come with an option to upgrade to a touchscreen. While the Intel clamshell Chromebook 311 comes with either, touch interactions will only be available in the Chromebook Spin 311 for AMD.
When can we buy them?
As is often the case with launch announcements, there aren't any solid details for the time being with regard to when the new Acer Chromebook 511 and Chromebook 311 will become available. Acer is planning to ensure they're ready for the EMEA and North America by the second quarter of this year. So they should be available in plenty of time for schools that need to update their hardware over the summer.
Availability of exact models and their internal specifications will vary in each region too, on top of standard price variations. Those details, including pricing, will become available as the company moves closer to shipping the Chrome OS gadgets. Since these are intended for use in school or commercial environments, they will only be available through the standard channels for those buyers by contacting Acer's offices or visiting Acer's business and education-specific web portals.