Acer unveils rugged Chromebook 11 N7 (C731) laptop for education

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Chromebooks are wonderful computers -- if they meet your needs. Look, if you do hardcore video editing, or have a need for programs that only run on Windows or macOS, then yeah, Chrome OS will stink -- for you. However, if you live in the web browser and are always online anyway, why not a Chromebook?

Laptops running Chrome OS are particularly wonderful for education, as they are inexpensive, easy to manage, and very secure. Today, Acer announces an affordable model -- aimed at schools -- that it calls Chromebook 11 N7 (C731). Best of all, it is very durable, making it less likely to break in the hands of careless children.

"The Acer Chromebook 11 N7 (C731) can handle up to 132 pounds (60kg) of downward force on the top cover, while the reinforced case and hinges result in greater resistance to twisting and stress, even if students cram them into their backpacks. In addition, the corner-shield structure and rubber bumper keyboard surround further protect the Chromebook, so it can tolerate drops from heights up to 48 inches (122cm). These features ensure the Chromebook will be protected whether it takes a tumble while being transported or is accidentally knocked off a desk. The anti-slip pattern on the rear case makes it easy to grip and helps prevent it from slipping out of students’ hands," says Acer.

The budget-friendly manufacturer also shares, "The Acer Chromebook 11 N7 (C731) has a spill-resistant keyboard that provides protection against spills of up to 11 fluid ounces (330ml) of water. The unique gutter system under the keyboard and touchpad drains water so that it’s routed away from internal components and out the bottom of the chassis. A new feature to the Chromebook 11 N7 (C731) is the keyboard design with recessed keys that prevent the key caps from being easily removed by students. In addition, the keyboard was designed for an excellent typing experience for students, many of whom are still learning keyboarding skills".

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The company shares the following specs.

Operating System

Chrome OS

CPU

Intel Celeron dual-core processor N3060 (2MB L2 cache, 1.60 GHz, up to 2.48 GHz with Intel Burst Technology, DDR3L 1600MHz, 6W)

Memory

4GB of Dual-channel LPDDR3 SDRAM support

Display

C731: 11.6-inch HD 1366x768 resolution, high-brightness Acer ComfyView LED-backlit TFT LCD ultra slim design
C731T: 11.6-inch Touchscreen display with IPS technology 1366x768 resolution, high-brightness Acer CineCrystalTM LED-backlit TFT LCD with wide viewing angles

Both models: 16:9 aspect ratio, Mercury free, environmentally friendly

Graphics

Intel HD Graphics

Storage

16GB eMMC or 32GB eMMC

Audio

High-definition audio support, two built-in stereo speakers, built-in microphone

HD webcam

HD webcam with 1280x720 resolution 720pm HD audio/video recording

Wireless and networking

Intel Dual Band Wireless AC, 802.11ac/a/b/g/n wireless LAN, Operates at 2.4 and 5GHz, 2x2 MIMO technology
Bluetooth 4.0

Input and Output

Two USB 3.0 ports
SD card reader, HDMI port, 3.5mm headphone/speaker jack, DC-in jack for AC adapter

Reliability Testing

MIL-STD 810G: high temperature, low temperature, rain, humidity, vibration, mechanical shock, transit drop

Keyboard and Touchpad

Acer Fine Tip keyboard with international language support Fully clicakable touchpad featuring click anywhere functionality

Privacy Control

Trusted Platform Module and Kensington lock slot

Color

Granite Gray

System compliance

Energy Star, EPEAT registered

Battery

4090 mAh 11.1 V 3-cell Li-Ion battery Battery life up to 12 hours

Dimensions

11.72w x 8.27d x 0.87h inches (297.6 x 210 x 22 mm)

Weight

2.98 lbs, 1.35kg

If your school is interested in buying these Chromebooks, they can be had this month in North America with a starting price of $229. That gets you 4GB RAM, 16GB storage, and a non-touch display.

By spending more money, you can upgrade to a touch display (C731T) and increased storage too. Europeans can score one next month starting at €299. If your school buys more than 100 of these laptops, enhanced support from Acer will be gratis.

Overall, the machine looks solid, although it won't be winning any beauty pageants. Then again, it puts durability and usability first, so it shouldn't come as a surprise that appearance is lacking.

What do you think of the Acer Chromebook 11 N7 (C731)? Will students like it? Tell me in the comments.

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