Tech Lab: 4 Chromebooks
We test four Chromebooks to find the best tech for your classroom. Plus: What's next for Chrome and Android?
Scholastic Administrator TechLab puts the latest in educational technology—from notebooks to projectors to interactive whiteboards to tablets-through their paces at our top-secret proving grounds. Our rigorous evaluations rely on a mix of benchmark tests, comparative measures, and subjective assessments.
The Challenge: Choose the best Chromebook for the classroom or your corner office. They range from sleek, high-resolution models to solid, journeyman machines.
Google on the Desk
Chrome and Android take up more space as they move beyond notebooks and tablets.
Paradoxically, the latest computers that use Google software are neither tablets nor notebooks. Instead, Chrome and Android are now taking on the desktop.
Samsung's Chromebox uses the same software as the Chromebooks we reviewed, but it's packaged in a small white box. It has the power to turn a keyboard, mouse, and monitor into a Web-ready computer. Just plug it in, connect it to your school's network, and watch the device come to life with an Intel Celeron processor, 4GB of RAM, and an online cache of 100GB. The Box lacks USB 3.0 ports, although it has a generous six USB 2.0 connections as well as two DisplayPort and DVI connectors to drive a pair of monitors. The Box sells for $329, about as cheap as a PC gets these days.
By contrast, ViewSonic's VSD220 takes Google software a step further with an all-in-one system. Rather than Chrome, though, the VSD220 uses the latest Android 4.0 software (a.k.a., Ice Cream Sandwich) and provides access to the deep library of educational Android apps available online. It can be thought of as the world's largest tablet, although at 11 pounds, it'll probably remain on the desk. Behind its 22-inch HD monitor, the VSD220 has a dual-core ARM processor, 1GB of RAM, and 8GB of storage. Its HD display is touch-sensitive, but unlike most slates and the Pixel, it can handle only two finger inputs at a time and works best with simple gestures. At $425, it's an inexpensive way to add Web-centric screens to schools.