Netbooks were the subject of a lot of attention in education about two years ago; many saw these inexpensive, compact versions of laptops as the devices that would finally enable one-to-one computing to become commonplace in K12. Today, even though new devices have appeared—namely, tablets like the iPad—and taken much of the spotlight in the discussion, netbooks remain a viable and inexpensive option for creating a one-to-one program.
Many manufacturers see K12 as a still-fertile market for netbook sales and have responded by designing models outfitted with education-friendly features, like durable rubberized cases, built-in carrying handles, and preinstalled curriculum software. As a result, large implementations of hundreds or even thousands of netbooks in districts continue, including recent rollouts in the Detroit Public Schools and the Northwest Independent (Texas) School District. Here are a few of the many education-friendly netbooks on the market to consider using in your district.
Starts at $474
Dell's rugged netbook designed for education includes features such as a rubberized casing, 10.1-inch screen and Intel Atom processors. A wide variety of options allow users to customize the device for their needs, including a built-in carrying strap, a multitouch display, integrated webcam, 6-cell battery for extended life, a choice of Windows or Linux operating systems, external DVD drive, solid-state drive, antimicrobial keyboard, and a Dell mobile cart for charging and transporting many units at once.
Companion Touch 10
Starts at $499
M&A Technology partnered with publisher McGraw-Hill and chipmaker Intel to develop the Companion Touch 10, a convertible touchscreen device intended for elementary students. The industry collaboration gives districts the advantage of purchasing the durable Inteldesigned netbooks with content from McGraw-Hill or other curriculum sources preinstalled, including elementary literacy program LEAD21 and K6 math program CINCH Mathematics.
The Eee PC from Asus was one of the first true netbooks on the market several years ago. The latest models are the 1015B, a 10.1-inch unit with a single- or dual-core AMD processor, up to 2GB of RAM and 500GB hard drive, and the 1215B, a 12.1-inch model with up to 4GB of RAM. Each model provides up to 8 hours of battery life, includes an HDMI port for displaying high-definition content on an external display, and is available in either matte or glossy finishes and a variety of colors.
Starts at $329
Acer offers its Aspire One netbooks in 8.9-inch, 10.1-inch or ultraslim 11.6-inch sizes. Models can weigh as little as 2.2 pounds and offer a choice of Intel or AMD processors, up to 4GB of RAM, and the option of the Windows 7 operating system, which are rare features in the netbook segment. Acer also offers services to help districts implement one-to-one computing initiatives, including custom-built support plans and marketing assistance to help administrators communicate their one-to-one vision.
Samsung's NB30 offers features to ensure durability in a school environment, including a rubberized casing, water-resistant keyboard, scratch-resistant fi nish and a free-fall sensor, which prevents damage to the hard drive if the unit is dropped. Additional features include a 10.1-inch screen, Intel Atom processor, Windows 7 operating system, webcam and 250GB of hard drive capacity. The NB30 weighs 2.78 pounds and includes a standard 6-cell battery, which provides 9.5 hours of use on a single charge.
Hewlett-Packard's netbook for professional use includes a 10.1-inch WSVGA resolution screen, reinforced hinges for durability, integrated webcam and a spill-resistant keyboard that is 93 percent of full-size, all in a unit that weighs just 2.78 pounds. The Mini 1103 also includes integrated Bluetooth wireless technology, an HP QuickSync feature that synchronizes data across devices, a choice of Intel Atom N455 or N475 processors, and 3-cell or 6-cell battery configurations.