Google Unveils New Samsung Chromebook 2 Series for Schools at SXSWEdu

Two new Samsung Chromebooks, priced at $320 and $400, are aimed at the expanding Chromebook market in schools. The machines were unveiled at the SXSWEdu event for education.

Google announced two new Samsung Chromebooks for schools and educators at the fourth annual SXSWEdu conference in Austin, Texas, as the Chromebook for education marketplace continues to expand.

The new Samsung Chromebooks include an 11-inch Chromebook 2, priced at $320, and a 13-inch Chromebook that's priced at $400, according to a March 3 post by Jaime Casap, Google's global education evangelist, on the Google Enterprise Blog.

Each of the new Samsung Chromebook 2 Series devices includes 4GB of DDR3L memory, a Samsung Exynos 5 Octa CPU (running at 1.9GHz in the 11-inch Chromebook and 2.1GHz in the 13-inch Chromebook), as well as more than 8 hours of battery life, according to Casap's post. The new models will go on sale starting in April. Each of the models includes a 720p HD Webcam, 16GB of flash storage and HD LED displays.

The 11-inch model will be available in classic white or jet black, while the 13-inch model will be offered in luminous titan gray.

Both devices are being shown off by the Google for Education team at the SXSWEdu event, where educators, innovators, startups, content providers, large companies and hackers are coming together to look at new ways of improving learning experiences for students, wrote Casap.

"As our team talks to educators and developers alike, we keep hearing the same thing—people want better ways to connect with each other and discover the best tools," Casap wrote. "Developers need feedback to make great apps, manufacturers want to understand what administrators need from devices, and teachers need easy ways to find the right content."

Also being announced at the event is the availability of new digital content to schools and students through Google Play for Education's K-12 books program. "With a broad catalog ranging from classic literature to recent textbooks, it's easy for teachers to get the right reading to each student," wrote Casap.

Teachers can peruse the reviews on the site to find the right content for their lessons, and changes in the program will now allow school districts to reassign licenses for the educator-approved apps in Google Play for Education, starting on April 2. Also being added is the ability to uninstall apps remotely, right from the Google Play for Education interface.

The SXSWEdu Conference & Festival runs four days from March 3-6.

In December 2013, Dell launched its first-ever Chromebook that is targeted at school students and educators, and company officials said it will release additional models in the future for consumers, small businesses and other markets. The new Dell Chromebook 11 devices include fourth-generation Intel Celeron 2955U processors, 11.6-inch screens, up to 10 hours of battery life and a 16GB embedded solid-state drive, according to Dell. The machines will be available in two models, one with 4GB of internal DDR3 RAM, and the other with 2GB of RAM. Boot-up time for each machine is about 8.4 seconds, according to the company.

The 11.6-inch displays have a maximum resolution of 1,366 by 768 and run on Intel HD graphics chips. Also included are a front-facing 720p Webcam, 802.11 a/b/g/n WiFi, two USB 3.0 ports, Bluetooth 4.0 and a High Definition Multimedia Interface (HDMI) port. The machines are less than 1 inch high, weigh about 2.9 pounds each and have battery life of up to 10 hours. Also included in the education versions is the Dell Wyse PocketCloud application, which gives students and teachers who will use the devices access to content and applications across a "personal cloud" of devices, according to Dell. Users will be able to access, edit, save and share their digital assets such as presentations, documents, photos and videos regardless of where the original documents are located, according to the company.

Several other new Chromebooks have also been released in recent months from other vendors. Also in December 2013, Google unveiled the new Acer C720P Chromebook, which has a multi-touch screen and retails for $299.

In October 2013, Google unveiled the new $279 HP Chromebook 11, which weighs just over 2 pounds. The HP machine also includes a micro-USB charger that can also recharge a user's Android phone or tablet. The HP 11 is being sold through Best Buy, Amazon, Google Play and HP Shopping in the United States, and through Currys, PC World and many other retailers in the U.K.

In June 2013, Google expanded its network of dealers for its Chromebooks by beginning to sell them through Walmart and Staples stores, raising the number of outlets for the devices to some 6,600 stores. The move added Walmart and Staples stores to the existing Chromebook retail outlets through Best Buy and Consumers are also able to purchase the machines via Staples online, while business users will be able to buy them through the Staples Advantage B2B program. More retailers are also expected to be added in the coming months, including select Office Depot, OfficeMax, Fry's and TigerDirect stores.

Chromebooks and their desktop brethren Chromeboxes run Google's Chrome operating system and feature a wide range of preinstalled, cloud-based Google services and products, including Google Docs and Google Calendar. Chromebooks allow users to do their work online with less need for on-machine storage for large applications and files.