Schools will be spoiled for choice from Acer as they consider upgrading their Chromebook fleets this year. Five new models are coming into play with all of them certified to take a beating from kids and a splatter of bacteria. Plus, one of them being a Qualcomm LTE-connectable device.
Few spec details were made available per model, but all of them have the MIL-STD-810H badge which shows that they can take falls of up to 4 ft. or 1.2 m and downward impacts of up to 132 lbs. or 60 kg of force. MIL-STD-810 is the documented standard as drafted by the U.S. military, 'H' is the latest revision published in 2019.
Other aspects suited to our virally-conscious world include spill-resistant keyboards and trackpads and reinforced brackets that keep chiclets on the chassis. Models with touch displays — look for the word "Spin," where the display rests on a near-360° hinge for flexible utility — will be fronted by antimicrobial Gorilla Glass. They also come with Chrome OS's zero-touch enrollment that lets IT admins fix up their end users' sign-on workflow.
The most affordable option in the refreshed lineup is the 11.6" Chromebook 311 (C722) which is powered by the MediaTek MT8183 processor and extra safeguards for younger students like a keyboard that can withstand 11.6 fl. oz. or 330 ml inundation of water and chiclets that have been hooked twice around the back of the chassis to protect against picky fingernails. The device also meets the UL/IEC 60950-1 and ASTM F963-16 standards for plastic coatings including leach prevention and sharp edge safety. It comes with an HDR webcam, optional touch screen, and a 20-hour battery. North America will receive the C722 as soon as this month from US$299.
A step up from the 311 is the TravelMate Spin B3 (TMB311R-322). An Intel Pentium Silver chip takes its place here and, with it, Wi-Fi 6 support. The touch display comes standard along with a Full HD webcam, a USB 3.2 Gen 1 Type-C port, plus a dedicated Ethernet jack and HDMI slot. Users can track its 12-hour battery life through LED indicators on the top lid. Options include LTE connectivity, a Wacom AES Pen, HDR enhancement for the webcam, and an extra silver-ion antimicrobial coating for the keyboard, touchpad, and palm-rest surfaces. No word about display size, but it will be fronted by anti-microbial Gorilla Glass.
The TravelMate will come to North America in April for $330 and up.
Acer Chromebook Spin 511 (R753T)
The Chromebook Spin 511 (R753T) and Spin 512 (R853TA) are somewhat interchangeable — the former's IPS display comes in a 11.6" 16:9 format while the latter goes with a 3:2 aspect ratio at 12". The 512 gets an extra silver-ion coating. Both meet the ASTM and UL/IED youth plastic safety standards. Depending on the model, you'll either get an Intel Celeron N4500 or N5100 processor. They're stocked with up to 64GB of eMMC storage, 8GB of RAM, Wi-Fi 6, and metal-shielded I/O ports (including a Kensington lock) for extra durability.
Acer Chromebook Spin 512 (R853TA)
The Spin 511 will cost at least $400 while the Spin 512 will go from $430. North America will greet both models in April.
Finally, we check out the Chromebook 511 (C741L) with the Qualcomm Snapdragon 7c Compute Platform as its engine — it's an 11.6" clamshell laptop with LTE activity as its focus. It's light at 1.3 kg or 2.9 lbs., but long-lasting with a battery tested to last up to 20 hours and durable with reinforced ports and a unique keyboard drainage system for the odd spill.
The Chromebook 511 makes it to North America in April for $400 or more.