Hands-on: Dell Chromebook 11 is intended for the classroom

Just ahead of this year’s Dell World the company announced a new 11.6 inch Chromebook, set to come out in January, 2014. As far as Chrome OS machines go, the Dell Chromebook 11 is pretty standard: Celeron 2955U processor, 16GB SSD for storage, 2GB or 4GB of RAM, and 1366 x 768 display resolution.

With HP’s latest Chromebook struggling due to overheating issues Dell might have a chance at snagging a few mainstream shoppers with this one. That’s not the main audience, though; this Chromebook is headed to class.

Dell Chromebook 11

Dell is positioning this laptop specifically for K-12 education markets, something it also did with netbooks a few years ago. The look isn’t meant to catch your eye on a Best Buy shelf (even though it does look like a slight modification on the Windows-powered Inspiron 11 3000 Series notebook, which is a consumer device).

It’s not ugly, it’s just more functional than fashionable. It’s not too heavy at 2.9 pounds but isn’t the lightest nor the thinnest Chromebook around. This size and weight will be easy for even first graders to carry around without starting early on back problems.

The black and gray lid does a good job eschewing fingerprints, even if the only exciting bits are the Dell and Google logos. The deck has a soft-touch coating that also didn’t appear to gather smudges easily. Dell didn’t mention any rugged features and the sides and edges don’t look reinforced. However, given the nature of Chromebooks the loss of one doesn’t mean the loss of data, so they might not need to be as accident-proof as a Windows PC.

The keyboard is pretty average for Dell. The keys have light tactile feedback and are well-spaced so inexperienced/learning typists won’t often accidentally mash multiple keys. There’s a rough matte coating on each key that helps fingers stay on the right one. I was able to get up to my full typing speed right away. And in my hands-on time with the buttonless touchpad I didn’t notice any problems or finickyness.

The 11.6-inch display is a little too glossy and more glare-prone than I prefer. Otherwise it’s bright and the colors look good, plus it has wide viewing angles.

Other specs and ports include: 2 USB 3.0, full size HDMI, 720p webcam, 802.11 a/b/g/n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.0.

For the intended market, the Chromebook 11 appears to be a solid choice. Firm pricing has not been announced, but Dell says they intend to keep the cost under $300 for the 2GB version. That’s a good deal for a Chromebook, especially if performance holds up. The 4th generation Intel Celeron processor inside is probably powerful enough for Chrome OS, and I didn’t notice any lag when I played with it.

There isn’t much to make this Chromebook stand out from others on the market except Dell’s assurance that it won’t overheat and blow up. That is good to know, though!

Look for the Dell Chromebook 11 on Dell.com in January (probably around the 17th).

  • adon

    that would be pretty good with linux installed is someone figures it out

  • Denzphee

    I wonder if the display is IPS, as there is never a mention of that in any trustworthy article, but Dell does mention something about “excellent viewing clarity”.

    • http://www.dahayden.com/ David Alastair Hayden

      They wouldn’t put IPS on units targeted at schools. IPS would just make the units cost more, and the students will just have to deal with whatever they’re given. Pretty sure the only IPS Chromebooks are the Pixel and the HP 11.

    • JPB

      From the strobing I see when she shows the screen, I doubt it. Still the screen doesn’t look bad.

  • http://www.dahayden.com/ David Alastair Hayden

    It’s cheaper than the Thinkpad x131e Chromebook, which is heavier and built like a tank but also has a nice Thinkpad keyboard. I’ve noticed there’s a forthcoming x140e.

  • BiffBoop

    The new HP 14″ Chromebook with 4GB RAM and 4G T-Mobile is fabulous. It has become my sole computer.

  • LS650

    I have to say I am nonplussed. Feature for feature, this doesn’t differ much from other 11″ Chromebooks. Same resolution, same ports, same screen size, no backlit keyboard, no touchscreen, same VGA camera, etc, etc.

    They say it is for the education market, but it doesn’t seem to be built any more sturdy than other Chromebooks, and looks to be just as likely to break if a kid drops it on the floor.

    I’d like to see a midrange Chromebook around $500 – something like the HP 14 but better, faster, etc but not the Pixel’s price tag.

  • pmug

    Classrom = Classroom :)

  • Sam Curcio

    Of topic – why is Staples putting advertisements up for items that are out of stock? For retailers, it seems like the in thing to do this year.

  • discolust

    You’re kidding. She actually suggested the fact it wouldn’t blow up put it on a high level. Do the writer’s services come more cheaply than those who won’t make ridiculous statements, or is this the easy-going way of Liliputing? Hm? Because I come here for information and relevant opinion, not stupidity. The fact the HP Chromebook 11’s charger overheats does not mean it will “blow up”. Dell should be ashamed of saying something so stupid and Liliputing should be ashamed of reporting it as anything other than the words of a competitor who made a ridiculous suggestion about another competitor’s product.

    • http://ktbradford.com K. T. Bradford

      Due to the limitations of the Internet, I was unable to properly convey that you were meant to read that as a silly joke. Of course the HP Chromebook doesn’t blow up and of course no one at Dell said it does.

      • Hongjoo Lee

        Hey, don’t shift the blame to the limitations of Internet. It’s due to your cheap idea of writing a review to make such ridiculous joke. HP may sue you not only for spreading false information but also for libel but of course they won’t as they know it’s cheap and worthless.

  • Michael Thompson

    Do you suppose that one could install WinXP or 7 on this machine?
    Does it feature a card slot?