Lenovo introduces "Education only Chromebook" – the Thinkpad X131e

Lenovo introduces "Education only Chromebook" – the Thinkpad X131e
The Thinkpad X131e Chromebook from Lenovo
The Thinkpad X131e Chromebook from Lenovo
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The Thinkpad X131e Chromebook from Lenovo
The Thinkpad X131e Chromebook from Lenovo

Lenovo has announced a rugged laptop designed specifically for the education sector. The system runs on Google's Chrome OS and depending on its reception, could spell bigger things for the future of Google's browser-based operating system.

You might recognize the X131e moniker from the Windows-based laptop released by Lenovo last year. There's no significant change in the hardware from that system and the Chromebook version features similar specs, with the only major shift being the removal of the AMD CPU option. The laptop features an 11.6 inch 1366 x 768 LED anti-glare display and users will get three USB ports, as well as VGA and HDMI connectivity. The system weighs in at 1.78 kg (3.92 lbs) and Lenovo claims the laptop's six cell battery will last “for the entire school day.”

Given its target audience, one of the biggest draws of the system is its rugged form-factor. Designed to cope with the wear and tear associated with extended school-use, the X131e features a rubberized top cover and strengthened corners. The Chromebook's hinge is also strengthened and will reportedly last for more than 50,000 open and close cycles.

There's no word yet on RAM or internal storage configuration, and Lenovo are yet to provide details on whether any cloud storage will be bundled with the system. Previous Chomebooks, made by Samsung and Acer, have come with 100 GB of Google Drive storage for two years and either a 16 GB SSD or 320 GB hard drive.

Though Lenovo's Chromebook is only being marketed to schools, the company's interest in the fledgling OS is significant. According to an IDC report last week, Lenovo is currently the second largest PC manufacturer with 15.7 percent of the market, shipping more than 14 million systems last year. If the X131e Chromebook proves successful then the company may decide to release more Chrome OS-based systems.

Google's Chrome OS is, as the name suggests, a browser-based operating system and uses web apps in place of local software. Though this somewhat limits the functionality, due to its simplicity, the platform does benefit from fast boot times and doesn't require virus protection software. The average Chromebook also comes in significantly cheaper than similar systems running a “full” OS.

The Thinkpad X131e Chromebook starts at US$429 with availability starting February 26th.

Source: Lenovo

Also of note: Google and Acer have teamed up for a $200 notebook that looks like it could open up computer use greatly.
Google has actually done a good job of getting Chromebooks into schools (at least in the US). Chromebooks are easy to use, easy for IT staff to manage, and start up fast, so students don't spend half the class waiting for them to boot up.
Now, with Lenovo joining in, Chromebooks will get even more of a boost.
Schools that still need access to Windows applications can use third party solutions like Ericom AccessNow, an HTML5 RDP client that enables Chromebook users to connect to any RDP host, including Terminal Server and VDI virtual desktops, and run Windows applications or desktops in a browser tab.
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Please note that I work for Ericom