What’s new? What do we think? What do you need to know? There is a selection of new devices being pitched at the education market. INTERFACE Editor Greg Adams checks out two options for your BYOD device.
Acer Aspire R3-131T
You know how sometimes a device just feels good. Well, removing the Aspire R3-131T from its box was such a time. Okay, so it’s pretty solid, weighing in at 1.58 kg. But it comes in an attractive plastic body with a patterned texture like fabric, which both looks nice and is good to the touch. It won’t scratch easily and offers decent grip when holding it in the hand.
Acer classes this device as a notebook … but with a twist, literally. The 360-degree hinge means it can take many forms, from tablet to tent, display or laptop.
The 11.6-inch multi-touch HD LCD display comes with 1366 x 768 resolution. It’s okay. Colour and brightness are certainly good enough for the classroom – and little different from other similar machines. The keyboard’s full size with a standard layout, although the keys did seem to need pressing quite hard. The trackpad, on the other hand, impressed. It handles taps, swipes and gestures extremely well.
Sturdy and good looking
The R3-131T runs Windows and inside is an Intel Celeron Processor (N3050), with 4GB DDR (upgradable to 8) and 500GB hard-drive. And Acer touts a battery life of up to eight hours, with Standby and Hibernation power-saving modes. All a perfectly adequate combo for a BYOD device. There are plenty of ports available to the user – a two USB ports (one USB 2.0 and the other USB 3.0), full-size HDMI and Ethernet connectors, SAD card reader, and standard headphone/microphone jack.
Overall, this is a sturdy, good-looking device, surprisingly well crafted. It’s powerful and speedy enough for classroom activities and is competitively priced at $599 (RRP). It is fractionally on the heavy side, and the screen and keyboard have limitations. However, accepting that this is a budget device, there’s really little to complain about. In fact, you’ll be hard pushed to fund a better similar device right now.
Acer R11 Chromebook
Who’d have thought so much could hinge on a hinge? Yet, it’s enough to differentiate Acer’s R11 from the Chromebook crowd. Thanks to two 360-degree hinges, it flips effortlessly all the way around and into four different modes: laptop, display (screen facing outward), tent and tablet.
It also features Acer’s patented dual-torque system. This means the panel is very easy to open but locks in place when you tap, swipe and pinch on the touchscreen – essentially guaranteeing wobble-free touch control.
It’s a fantastically neat hybrid design and, as for the rest of the package, it’s well-suited to the R11’s primary mission of getting stuff done in the classroom, easily, quickly and at a decent price.
Acer’s R11 has an 11.6-inch display. The resolution’s adequate – 1366 x 768 pixels (but in line with most Chromebooks). It’s also an IPS display, which means that colours do look good, and the contrast in photos and videos holds up when you tilt the screen back or forward.
The display is also a touchscreen, which is an unexpected and attractive feature for such a budget device. The keyboard is spacious and the trackpad feels responsive enough to do its job.
Sophisticated and simple
As for its construction, the R11 sports a premium aluminum top panel and uses special ‘nano-imprint’ technology to create a quite sophisticated texturing that helps you to grip the thing firmly.
At just 1.92cm thin and weighing less than 1.2kg. it’s a machine that’ll fit nicely in any schoolbag.
This Chromebook has the ports you need, HDMI, USB 2.0 and 3.0, an SD card slot, and headphone/microphone jack. There’s an in-built HDR webcam and sound is generally good.
Our configuration featured the Intel Celeron N3150 processor, 4GB RAM and 16GB eMMC, more than enough to handle the simple demands of Google’s Chrome OS and going online. It switched nicely between tasks and the battery seems enough for a school day.
All in all, this is an impressive machine – and inexpensive at $499 (RRP). It ably does the job it’s designed to do but with a touch of panache thanks to the rotating hinge, touchscreen, and hi-tech finish.