Asus’s latest crop of Chromebooks will hit the market from three totally different directions and have the effect of making traditional school computers look very expensive. The upcoming trio of Asus Chrome systems could change the teaching dynamic with a convertible touch model, what could be the cheapest Chromebook around and a novel Chrome-based stick that plugs directly into a display or projector. Together, they have the school market covered – or at least will when the devices come out over the next few months.
To start, the Flip C100 Chromebook can turn teaching on its head. Rather than a standard clamshell format, Flip has a screen that rotates to flip over, creating a Chromebook convertible that can be used as a keyboard centric system, a presentation machine or a tablet. The system has a 10.1-inch screen, can show 1,366 by 768 resolution and responds to 10 independent touch inputs. It includes 16GB of on-board storage, has 802.11ac WiFi and Bluetooth connectivity so it should fit into any school’s IT landscape. It should be available by summertime.
Meanwhile, Asus has a bargain for you. Its Haier and Hisense Chromebooks should be out a little sooner and will sell for $149. They are similar, though not identical and while they skimp here and there, but the two are functional and very portable computers that undercut the competition by fifty dollars. The Haier model will be sold through Amazon while the Hisense system can be purchased at Walmart, which should fit into schools that specify, but don't supply systems to kids. They are similar to the Flip with 2GB of RAM and 16GB of storage, but each system has an 11.6-inch screen in a more traditional notebook format. They’re small and weigh in at 2.5-pounds, perfect for teachers ans students on the go.
Finally, there’s the innovative Chromebit, a self-contained computer on a stick that is like no other Chrome system. Small and light enough to wear on a lanyard, it will be available in three colors. Similar to Google’s Chromecast, it is easily the most inventive computer of the year. Looking like a memory key on steroids, Chromebit plugs directly into the HDMI port of a display, but is a full Chrome system with its own memory and storage space. Created with help from Google, Chromebit will cost just $100. Smaller and less expensive than the $260 Hannspree’s Stick PC, Chromebit has the power to change the entire teaching dynamic. Instead of equipping kids and teachers with more expensive notebooks or tablets, they could get less expensive Chromebit sticks that they plug into displays already set up in each room. The system on a stick will hold the user’s personal history, preferences and key files with the rest being stored online.