CTL introduced the NL71 line of small, rugged Chromebooks designed for the education space in January, and now they’re up for pre-order from the CTL website with prices starting at $239.

Powered by Intel Gemini Lake Refresh processors, the fanless laptops feature drop-resistant cases, water-resistant keyboards, 180-degree hinges, built-in carrying handles, and a choice of touchscreen or non-touch displays.

One thing I hadn’t expected? The company is also offering a $349 CTL Chromebook NL71 LTE model with support for Sprint’s LTE cellular network.

This configuration has an 11.6 inch, 1366 x 768 pixel display, an Intel Celeron N4020 dual-core processor, 4GB of DDR4 memory, 32GB of eMMC storage, 802.11ac WiFi, Bluetooth 5.0, and an HD camera.

The CTL NL71 LTE weighs 2.5 pounds and features two USB-A ports, an HDMI port, an SD card reader, and a USB Type-C port (and USB-C charger).

CTL notes that the NL71 LTE will receive Chrome OS updates at least through June, 2026.

While CTL’s laptops are available for anyone to buy, the company is focused on the education market, where there aren’t many options for Chromebooks with cellular connectivity at the moment. And it may be needed now more than ever.

As schools across the world shut down to help slow the spread of the coronavirus and COVID-19, many are moving to online instruction. But not every student has access to the resources necessary to participate.

This week the New York Times reported “some teachers report that fewer than half their students” are taking part. The discrepancy is particularly high in schools with a high percentage of low-income students.

The digital divide has long been an issue, where those with access to computers and internet access have opportunities that may not be available to those without. But the large scale move from in-person to online education could lead to huge disparities for students who are unable to participate.

One possible solution could be for school districts to invest in Chromebooks like this… but it could be an expensive solution in the long run. While the CTL NL71 is relatively inexpensive, Sprint’s data plans start at $15 per month, which could add up over the life of a laptop.

CTL says the Chromebook NL71 LTE is up for pre-order now, but it’s not expected to ship until early May at the soonest.

press release

via Chrome Unboxed



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