Anyone who’s seen a display that uses Organic Light Emitting Diode (OLED) technology generally sticks with it because it not only uses less power than standard Liquid Crystal Displays (LCDs) but are lighter, brighter and richer. HP moves the OLED state of the art forward with HP’s Spectre x360 convertible computer. Its 3,820 by 2,160 resolution OLED screen can be flipped over to assume several computing personas, from a standard notebook to a tablet and presentation machine. Despite having a 13.3-inch screen, the Spectre x360 still weighs 3.2 pounds. Look for it in the spring for about $1,150.
Of the 80,000 educational apps for the iPad, the most gratifying ones are likely those aimed at special ed teachers and students. There are ones that focus on motor skill development, hearing, vision and literacy, each of which can get a child out of his or her shell. The latest ones use Apple’s Voice Over and Siri technology to describe what’s on the screen and respond to spoken questions.
While you’re there, I suggest you load a copy of the Autism & Beyond app. Developed with Apple’s ResearchKit, the software is the result of work by the Duke Medical Center and the Office of Naval Research to detect the early signs of autism in children. The pad’s camera watches a child’s face and looks for the telltale signs of emotions and behavior. It’s still in development and the subject needs to be between one and six years old for the app to work, but this tool could end up be a valuable resource in the classroom to help struggling students get the special classes they need.
Regardless of whether you’re looking for a router, access point or range extender, Amped Wireless’s Artemis family can help. The three LAN devices can pump out up to 450Mbps in 2.4GHz mode as well as 867Mbps in 5GHz mode, making for throughput that maxes out at over 1.3Gbps. Regardless of which one you get, the Artemis family uses the latest MuMimo transmission techniques to improve range, bandwidth and the number of devices. Each has a USB 3.0 port for connecting to a hard drive as well as four downstream wired LAN connections. Each will cost $130.
Windows is Windows and Chrome is Chrome, right? Well, Lenovo is offering schools the freedom of choice of which operating system to include on its ThinkPad 13 system. This can not only lower upfront costs, but maintenance and repairs as well. The TP13 is built around a sixth-generation Core i5 processor with the security minded vPro extensions, can be outfitted with up to 16GB of RAM and as much as 512GB of solid state storage. It sports a full-size HDMI port, three USB 3.0 and a Type C connector, yet the TP 13 fits in a slim system that weighs 2.3-pounds. While the Windows version will be ready by April, you’ll have to wait until summertime for the Chrome machine.
Meanwhile, Samsung has its third generation Chrome design on the way, which can cross over between Windows and Chrome software. The Chromebook 3 has a metallic skin and is just 0.3-inches thick yet carries an 11.6-inch screen and weighs just over 3 pounds. Inside, the system is powered by an Intel Celeron N3050 processor, has your choice of 2GB or 4GB of RAM and has 16GB of storage space. It can connect with 802.11ac WiFi, Bluetooth 4.0 and a pair of USB ports. It should sell for about $400.
The wild card is packages that Samsung is putting together for schools with a variety of software components. The most interesting pairs 100 CB 3 systems with software from Neverware that runs Windows virtually in Chrome’s environment. There’re also packages that team 30 systems with McGraw Hill’s ELA software and a three-month subscription to Reading Labs 2.0 or subscriptions to the company’s Thrive curriculum and three-months of ALEKS. A third package includes 10 CB 3s with Smart Technologies’ Amp content and enough licenses to cover six users per system.
Ruggedness is the center of attention for Asus’s C202 system. Designed to survive everyday drops and spills at school, the C202 is built around a sturdy frame with reinforced corners and rubber edge bumpers. Plus, the system has a scratch-resistant finish so that three-year old systems look almost new. If anything should break, the major components, including the power port, battery and keyboard, can be quickly removed and replaced. Powered by a Celeron processor, the C202 comes with 2GB of RAM and 16GB of solid state storage space. Its 11.6-inch screen shows 1,366 by 768 resolution and can fold flat onto a table top.
Meanwhile Acer has been working on Chrome computers, big and small. To start, the Chromebook 11, aka: CB3-131 is an 11-inch system that has been redesigned for durability. It costs $180. As to the big, the Chromebase 24 just might be perfect for public access kiosks, libraries and study halls. It has a Core i processor, a 23.8-inch display that can show full HD material and the one-two networking punch of 802.11ac WiFi and wired gigabit Ethernet. The system can connect via a bunch of USB ports and Bluetooth and can be ordered with the luxury of up to 8GB of RAM. Look for it later this year.
Too expensive for your school? The HiSense C11 Chromebook might downsize the display to 11.6-inches, but it also cuts the price tag to $99. It comes with a quad-core 1.8GHz Cortex processor and 16GB of storage space. If that’s not enough, you can add more space with a microSD card. It weighs 2.4-pounds.
The latest online curriculum comes from Kids Discover Online, a repository of online science and social studies content. Because it’s browser-based, Kids Discover can work with just about any recent computer and delivers 100 common topics with material at three different reading levels that range from ancient Greek to ecology. Aimed at K-through-8th grade, the service starts with the latest news items in each area and the content is chock full of interactive elements, infographics and visual representations of the relationships between topics.
Instead of a fragile budget notebook, students need (and deserve) rugged systems, like HP’s ProBook 11 G2 EE: the EE stands for Education Edition. Built around the latest Intel Core processors, the EE is not only thinner and lighter than the G1 version, but it’s resistant to spills and its molded trim protects it from drop damage. The system has super-tough Gorilla glass as well as DTS audio and 802.11ac WiFi. In addition to Windows 10 Pro, the $359 EE system can be ordered with HP’s School Pack 2.0 array of software. It includes copies of Classroom and TouchPoint Manager as well as HP’s Adaptive Learning app.
Want Windows 10 and access to all those educational apps but you have a school full of Macs? You can have it both ways with Parallels Desktop version 11, which can run Windows 10. The software includes a full version of Windows that runs directly in the Mac’s processor, allows you to go back and forth between the operating systems and even drag material between them. It costs $80 for the base version or $100 for the Pro Edition, which includes Microsoft’s Visual Studio Plug in.
In a move that I sincerely hope others will follow, Epson has reduced the price of many of its short-throw and ultra short-throw projector lamps to $45. It covers all PowerLite and BrightLink projectors and represents a two-thirds discount on some of the lamps involved. It’s enough to make you want to stock up on lamps.
Qomo’s Journey interactive panel sets a new standard for education with a new 84-inch model that can show a stunning 3,840 by 2,160 resolution. By many measures it can outdo most classroom projectors. Based on an Android interface, it’s easy to use so that students and teachers can interact with the display’s infrared technology that allows up to 10 independent touch points. It has a pair of speakers and can work with a variety of video inputs. It costs a cool $25,00, but Qomo has special deals that include document cameras.