BETT is billed as one of the world’s largest Education Technology conferences and it has historically taken place around the end of January or the beginning of February. That changed when COVID-19 decided to derail nearly everyone’s plans for the better part of two years. Canceled last year, BETT 2022 has been pushed back to late March thanks to the rapid spread of the latest Omicron variant of COVID. It is what it is but it has also forced many hardware manufacturers to shuffle release dates and forego the usual trade fair rigmarole. HP was the first out of the gate with its mid-January launch of the company’s newly branded “Fortis” Chromebooks and now, Acer has followed suit with an entire fleet of EDU devices designed specifically for today’s classroom.
The latest offerings from Acer include three devices powered by Intel’s latest small core Jasper Lake CPUs and one somewhat disappointing convertible that’s powered by the MediaTek MT8183 that debuted in Lenovo’s Duet tablet way back in 2020. More on that shortly. First, let’s take a look at what is actually new and notable about the new Intel-powered Chromebooks from Acer. Okay, there isn’t a lot to talk about when it comes to the “new” department. Apart from being powered by Jasper Lake CPUs, all three of these Chromebooks are modest iterations of their predecessors. Here’s a closer look at the latest Intel Chromebooks for EDU from Acer.
Acer Chromebook 512
Probably the most unique of the clamshells, the latest Chromebook 512 features its familiar 12-inch HD+ display that gives users more desktop real estate thanks to the 3:2 screen ratio. The screen is wrapped in a rugged, drop-resistant chassis and features a 180-degree fold-flat hinge. Acer is touting TNR(temporal noise reduction) technology and a “blue glass” IR cut filter. Both of which are intended to enhance video quality when using the webcam. ‘
Users will get two USB-A and two USB-C ports as well as a MicroSD card slot for expanding storage space. This model, like the other two Intel devices, comes with Wi-Fi 6 and Bluetooth 5.1 which is a welcome upgrade. Apart from that, this looks very much like last year’s 512 and I would suspect that you can expect the same ruggedness that we’ve come to love about this Chromebook. CPU options will include the dual-core N4500, quad-core N5100, and the Pentium N6000 with options for up to 8GB of RAM and 64GB of storage. The Acer Chromebook 512 is slated to launch this month in North America with a starting price of $349.99.
Acer Chromebook 511
The smaller Acer Chromebook 511 features many of the same specs as the Chromebook 512 but loses the option for a Pentium processor. The 11.6″ HD display is IPS which is a plus as many EDU devices come with those horrid TN panels. You still get the same ports, Wi-Fi 6, Bluetooth 5.1, and MicroSD card reader. Like the 512, the Chromebook 511 has a fold-flat hinge so students can share their screens in the classroom setting and it sports the same flare-reducing webcam setup for better video call quality.
This model will feature the Intel N4500 or N5100 and comes with 4GB or 8GB of RAM and up to 64GB of eMMC storage. Oh yeah, Acer states that both of these devices can squeeze up to 12 hours of battery life but we’ll have to test that for ourselves. The Acer Chromebook 511 will be available in February with a starting price of $349.99.
Acer Chromebook 314
Last but not least from the Intel offerings, we have the Acer Chromebook 314 that is geared more towards educators than students. The larger Chromebook features a 14-inch FullHD IPS display and has options for touch and anti-glare. It can be configured with up to a Pentium Silver N6000 CPU, 8GB of RAM, and up to 128GB of eMMC storage which makes this a more formidable device for the ones running the classroom.
Teachers will get the same flare-reducing webcam technology, 180-degree fold-flat hinge, and solid connectivity with Wi-Fi 6 and Bluetooth 5.1. Ports include two USB-A, two USB-C, a MicroSD card slot, and of course, a headphone jack. Thanks to the larger chassis, this model also gets upward-firing speakers which should be very beneficial for what can sometimes be a noisy environment. The Acer Chromebook 314 will launch sometime in the second half of 2022 and will start at $429.99.
Acer Chromebook Spin 311
We’ve long praised the Lenovo Chromebook Duet because of its premium, lightweight design and very desirable price point. However, the aging MediaTek processor is getting a bit long in the tooth. That’s why I was a bit surprised to see Acer release an “all-new” EDU device powered by the ARM SoC from MediaTek. That said, they did not ask my opinion so, yeah. Anyway, the latest rugged 2-in-1 from Acer is your standard 11.6″ convertible with an HD touch display, antimicrobial Corning Gorilla Glass, and options for Wi-Fi 6 and the latest Bluetooth 5.2 which is a big win for any Chrome OS user.
The latest Chromebook Spin 311 features a single USB-C and a single USB-A port. You don’t get an SD card reader which is a shame because 64GB is the largest storage option offered. There’s also no option for upgrading the RAM which means you’re stuck with a scant 4GB. While this device should get around fine for light tasks, I don’t see it being a good choice for anything other than elementary school classrooms. The Acer Chromebook Spin 311 is slated for a March release and is priced at an eye-watering $399.99.
All four of the new Chromebooks from Acer feature OceanGlass Touchpads that are made entirely of ocean-bound plastic waste. All but the Chromebook 314 have chassis that utilizes, in part, post-consumer recycled plastic. These devices will be offered through Acer and eligible partners with optional Chrome Enterprise Upgrades and buyers can opt for Zero-touch enrollment to expedite rolling out Chromebooks by the fleet. To learn more, head over to the Acer website. Stay tuned for new from the upcoming BETT show and stay in the now by signing up below for our newsletter. Get the latest Chrome OS and Google-related news straight to your inbox on your schedule.