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The Fun Tablet

NextbookFlexx11A_L_09At around $200, the E Fun’s NextBook Flexx 11A is all business. Based on Windows 10, the Flexx is built around an 11.6-inch touch screen that can show 1,366 by 768 resolution and is powered by an Intel Z8300 Atom processor along with 2GB of RAM. The tablet can be docked with its included keyboard for writing projects and assessments.

 

From Pen to Type

Nebo aMyScript, the right tablet and an active stylus can make everything from taking notes to creating a diagram as easy as doodling and tapping. The software not only digitally inks the screen with lines, letters and numbers, but captures enough of the information behind it to quickly convert it into type. It’s not perfect but better and quicker than OneNote’s system and you can more intuitively edit what you’ve created before transferring it to Word, PowerPoint or other programs.

At the moment, the Nebo app works only with iPad Pro and Surface Pro systems, though. It’s free and more of a demonstration project to show of how MyScript’s pen technology works, but it’s actually a better way to take notes, create diagrams, mark up images and even create math formulas, something that’s not exactly trivial with any word processing program.

Nebo bThe 33MB program has a nice tutorial to show how to use the app and you can pick the weight of your lines, the color as well as the language you want the scribbles to be rendered as. You can just start writing and the program converts it on the fly, showing progress in a small box on the left. Double tap and it’s converted. Double tap again and you can edit it.

This is just the start. Look for Nebo to be incorporated into all sorts of educational software that requires the teacher or student to reply to something or write a passage. On the downside, it only has one font available at the moment and only works with iPad Pros (with the Pencil stylus) and Surface Pro 4 (with the Pro Pen), but you have to start somewhere.

 

Top Shelf Cart

Iq-30Getting a classroom’s worth of notebooks or tablets from A to B is no trivial matter, but lockncharge’s iC 30 cart can make it one of the easiest parts of the school day. Sturdy, well-made and secure, the cart can put fully-charged computers into any classroom.

At 36.6- by 29.0- by 26.4-inches and weighing a hefty 158-pounds, the iC 30 is built like a tank and has a rugged white enamel finish. In fact, it’s so well made that it should outlast several generations of the computers that it will house.

Happily, the cart’s top slides sideways to create a 24- by 25.5-inch worktop that works well for handing out systems or for holding a large monitor. The cart’s inside has a large central storage area.

PCL-LNC_Carrier30Cart_MK4_05-smallThe bottom of the cart has a false floor made of four sheet metal panels. They can not only be set at three different heights, but if you pull them out, you’ll see a series of hidden power strips to charge the systems.

There are 30 110-volt grounded outlets that are protected against power surges and the iC 30 has a single AC power cord that can deliver up to 15 amps of charging current. You can wrap any excess electrical cabling around a cleat in the back. As sophisticated as the iC 30 is, the cart lacks USB power ports for charging tablets and some Chromebooks. In about 30-seconds, I retrofitted the iC 30 with a couple of 4-port USB power supplies, which made charging Androids and iPads much easier.

It comes with a small remote control that lets you pick from several power modes. They can also be accessed from a panel on the back of the cart, but you’ll need to get on your knees to get to the switches and read the LEDs.

Inside, there are side cable guides that can keep the cables from getting tangled. The cart comes with 30 Velcro ties for wrapping up the excess cables. Still, plugging in and unplugging 30 systems – particularly if they’re a mix of pads and PCs – can be a tedious process that’s made easier with the inclusion of sets of small circular numbered labels for the systems and their power cables.

Mobile-device-basketsInstead of dividers or shelves to hold the gear, the iC 30 has six unique plastic baskets. Each is meant to hold five iPads, MacBooks, Android tablets or notebooks. The baskets have a sturdy handle, so kids can carry a table’s worth of computers. You can get replacements for $80 each.


The baskets are big enough to accommodate Chromebooks, tablets and notebooks up to those with roughly 13-inch screens, but it can work with some 14-inch systems, like Lenovo’s ThinkPad X1 Yoga. Oddly, many smaller tablets won’t fit if they have padded cases or keyboard covers. The large iPad Pro barely fits, but you can easily fit 20 to 30 calculators into the carrier.

Solid and sturdy, the iC 30 has a padlock hasp for locking it shut and comes with a programmable lock. With smooth rolling casters, even the smallest teacher can push the cart from room to room and then lock in place. At the end of the day, the whole thing can be chained to one location, but you’ll need the optional $35 anchor kit. It comes with a lifetime guarantee on the mechanical elements but the electronics are only covered for two years.

Edge_Tote_Down_654_640_80_s_c1-e1461249036853It’s a workhorse in the classroom with the ability to store, charge and dole out computers 30 at a time. If that’s too much, the company sells similar carts and cabinets that use the baskets can hold 10 or 20 items.

Although the cart works with all kinds of computers, large and small, you can only buy it from Apple for about $1,800. Still, the iC 30 cart can turn any room into a computer lab.

                    A

9622

lockncharge iC 30

$1,799.95

 

+ Holds and charges 30 systems

+ Unique baskets

+ Single power cord

+ Hidden power strips

+ Slide out top

 

- No USB power

The Four-in-One Notebook

740U5LE_001_Front_SilverTired of plain old notebooks for your class? Samsung’s latest convertible, the Notebook 7 Spin can be everything from a traditional keyboard-based notebook or a tablet to one that looks like a tent or is a self-standing presentation system. The key is its 360-degree hinge that gives it tremendous freedom of motion for a variety of activities.

At under four-pounds, the Spin 7 carries a 13.3-inch touchscreen that can show full HD resolution as well as a high-performance Core i5 processor and 8GB of integrated RAM. Rather than locking you into a world dominated by USB C, the system also has USB 2.0 and USB 3.0 ports. It’s security conscious with a TPM chip for remotely connecting. The best part is that the Notebook 7 Spin sells for $800, although Samsung also has a high-end 15.6-inch version with a Core i7 processor for $1,200 that weighs 5 pounds. Both should be out by the end of July, plenty of time before school starts.

Freebee Friday: Mightier than the Thumb

AnotableIf tooling around an iPad Pro with your thumb is awkward and not quite precise enough, the $99 Apple Pencil is a big help with accurate placement and pressure sensitivity. Annotable, a powerful iPad app, works just as well with a finger as with the Pencil and takes the pro pad to a new level. In addition to adding the ability to annotate and draw circles and squares, you can add arrow heads to any screen, even while it’s connected to a projector. My favorite is Anotable’s pixelate function that blurs anything you select. Other items, like colors and a cool spotlight tool cost a few dollars, but you can get everything for $8.

Macs with a little Mileage

Gazelle macbookNeed anything from a classroom of MacBook Air models to a few Pros for a computer lab? Gazelle has them all at surprisingly low prices. The company’s inventory of refurbished systems available includes phones, iPads and MacBooks. The site not only shows their condition and the specs but what the price would be to buy or lease it for a year and a half. For instance, a late 2011 MacBook Pro model with a 13-inch screen, 8GB of RAM, a 500GB hard drive and 30-day warranty costs $650.

Windows on an iPad

Parallels accessIf you like the variety of PC school software, but have a school of iPads, the latest emulation software from Parallels lets you run just about any Windows app on a 12.9-inch iPad Pro system, adding an incredible amount of versatility to the pad. It costs $20 a year, but you can try it out before you commit to buy the software.

Mini that Maxes Education

Transformer Mini T102_02How do you follow up on the superb Asus Flipbook? By adding more features but keep its size, weight and price under control. The Transformer Mini carries a 10.1-inch display, yet weighs in at 1.2- pounds on its own and 1.7-pounds with its snap on keyboard. The system, is only 0.3-inches thick, yet has everything a class could need, from 802.11ac WiFi, Bluetooth and a pull out stand that makes using it on a desk much easier. You get a year’s worth of unlimited online storage.

 

SuperPhone

Att_g891a_gs7_active_gd_dynamic_leftIf you keep breaking tablets or phones, you might need one built for the rigors of work and school. That’s where Samsung’s Galaxy S7 Active comes in. Like the S6 Active, the S7 can stand up to a lot of punishment, including being dropped from five-feet and dunked underwater. It’s 5.1-inch quad HD screen, is made of shatter-resistant glass. It will be available via AT&T and Samsung’s enterprise sales department.

 

Pair of Classroom Aces

N23 w42The latest pair of classroom notebooks from Lenovo are sure to get your attention, both because they have what you need to teach, but are moderately priced. To start, the Lenovo N23 is a Windows 10 convertible with an 11.6-inch screen that can go from a traditional keyboard-based notebook to a tablet or show its display in its tent or presentation modes. Like the N22 it replaces, it’s rugged enough for 1st through 12th graders with reinforced ports and a spill-resistant keyboard that can take years of pounding. Meanwhile, the N42 Chromebook is bigger with a 14-inch display, but can only be a notebook. They should be available in a few weeks for between $200 (N42) and $250 (N42).

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in Tech Tools are strictly those of the author and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Scholastic, Inc.