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January 18, 2013

Lenovo's ThinkPad X131e Now Puts a Touch of Chrome in Classrooms

By Steve Anderson, Contributing TMCnet Writer

A touch of chrome has a way of making most anything look just a little snappier, but when you put a touch of Chrome in a classroom, the effect is no less marked if a little more metaphorical than literal. That's what Lenovo (News - Alert) is likely hoping to get out of its announcement this week to roll out a new class of ThinkPad that's available solely to K-12 schools – the first of its class to be powered by the Chrome OS.

The Lenovo device in question – a variation on the ThinkPad X131e – is heavily based on Web operations to provide something of a new kind of experience in terms of user experience. It offers up a variety of online and offline apps as well as the Chrome Web browser to help get information and provide optimum educational experiences to its student users.

Additionally, when the use of Google (News - Alert) Apps for Education is thrown into the mix, things only get better, as both students and teachers get access to document and spreadsheet editing, as well as a set of presentation slideshow tools and more. Chrome comes with a set of protection measures for Web users, as well as a single dashboard that can essentially serve as a master control for a set of devices.

This is a good start, but it's not just the software that makes Lenovo's newest education-heavy Chromebook attractive. The ThinkPad X131e was already a part of Lenovo's offering of educational devices, and the Chromebook version will prove no different. It will boast some major protective features to make it a fairly rugged device, such as rubber bumpers for drop protection, stainless steel hinge brackets, reinforced ports and a keyboard with a focus on toughness.

It's not just a tough laptop, either; it's a pretty potent one in its own right, packing in an AMD (News - Alert) Dual-Core E-Series E2-1800 processor, a 128 gig solid state drive, an 11.6 inch display showing at 1366 x 768 resolution, three USB ports, and outputs for both VGA and HDMI to ensure that most any larger screen will work with it.

While pricing details weren't released, the long-term costs here should be very welcome for schools overall, as the improved construction reduces the need for replacements, and the use of Chrome keeps licensing costs lower.

Those interested in getting in on this will have a bit of a wait, however, as the devices won't go on sale until February 26. It's easy to see the value here, though; an easy way to hand in homework for kids and collect and return it for teachers, as well as a way for students and teachers alike to create slide shows, among many other things which will help boost and preserve productivity in the classroom.

At the end of the day, this device is looking like a sound overall package. It's not as powerful as many of its contemporaries, but with costs likely to be fairly low and the system itself looking to be both reasonably well-powered and extremely resilient, the Lenovo ThinkPad X131e Chromebook may not go to the head of the class, but it's far from getting a dunce cap, either.

Want to learn more about the latest in communications and technology? Then be sure to attend ITEXPO Miami 2013, Jan 29- Feb. 1 in Miami, Florida.  Stay in touch with everything happening at ITEXPO (News - Alert). Follow us on Twitter.

Edited by Allison Boccamazzo

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