Many of the same things as last year’s model apply to this new version. It still looks very similar in it’s white drop proof casing, it is a few millimetres thinner though and the screen now bends right back. Port arrangements are the same but now both USB ports support USB 3. There’s still a full size hdmi output, full size SD card reader and a headphone jack. I wouldn’t suggest USB Type C as being a priority for a student computer in a school just yet as current peripheral compatibility is important.
The Edxis Education Chromebook Plus / Touch only come in one configuration now. Intel N3160 quad core CPU, 4GB of RAM and 32GB Storage. This is the top end of the specs for this price range and great that they did not skimp on the RAM or Storage as you often see in Acer and Asus models. As mentioned the Chromebook is designed to withstand drops from up to a metre and has a spill resistant keyboard with liquid drainage holes under it. The carrying handle is an excellent addition when students are carrying their laptop between lessons around the school.
The touch screen model introduces a glossy 1366×768 touch panel which works exactly as it should on a Chromebook. Google have made lots of improvements to the touch interface in Chrome OS and, while I wouldn’t want to use a Chromebook as a full tablet just yet, the touch interface becomes a navigating convenience and very useful in certain apps.
Scratch JR and Explain Everything both now have full Chrome OS versions that do work fine with a touchpad but are definitely better on the touch screen. This Chromebook has Android apps and the Google Play Store coming very soon which again the touch screen will be useful for.
The flip camera that is included in all Edxis Education Plus Chromebooks is again really handy in an education setting, it allows students to quickly record work in apps like Seesaw and also makes stop motion animation possible on a Chromebook. The image from the camera is bright in classroom conditions which is a weakness of our HP Chromebook webcams which are useless indoors and just show silhouettes.
Performance is generally great. Some of the more demanding apps we use like Powtoon are pretty painful on our HP Chromebooks with dual core CPUs and only 2GB of RAM. The Edxis flies through these apps without any hiccups. In terms of benchmarks I’m not seeing massive differences over the N2940 quad core CPUs from the previous model but that is to be expected. The Braswell CPU is made to be more power efficient over the Bay Trail chip as opposed to being much more powerful. For any web apps or android apps we’ve tested this config is plenty quick enough.
Battery life seems good. We charge our Chromebooks nightly in a cart but if left out on the desk all day students are still having more than 50% battery left at the end of the school day.
There are minor changes to the keyboard and touchpad on the new model but nothing major that changes the experience. The keyboard sound seems a little more dampened but that may just be because the machine is new. Touchpad is responsive and smooth. Also the side firing stereo speakers are quite loud for a little laptop.
We deployed 100 units of the new Edxis Education Plus Chromebook in our school about 3 months ago and have experienced no major issues as yet, the students like them and unlike our Acer or HP Chromebooks we have had no cracked corners on casings (or other damage) due to drops yet.
What I would like to see on a future model would be a 360 degree hinge for apps that suit a tablet interface, that might need a slightly thinner and lighter frame though to make practical. It’s not something I am too bothered about yet for Chromebook purchases because Android apps and management of them in schools is still not rolled out yet and also their is going to be a trade off in durability to have a large sheet of glass on top of the machine when in tablet mode.
For now though we use Chromebooks as they are the best laptops for Google Apps in a school. They make the ideal choice in both a shared and one to one environment. The Edxis Education Plus and the touch model are fantastic Chromebooks for schools. They are available in several Asia Pacific countries and pricing is approximately between $250 and $300 depending on market and model.
Check our Edxis.com for more details.