Lenovo a little late to class with updated educational laptops

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School’s been in session in Australia for a few months now, and we’ve already given our suggestions for student laptops, but in case you’ve held out to find something else, Lenovo has a few more ready to show off.

This week, the company has taken the time to announce that its “11e” series of computers are getting a slight update, bringing some updated innards, a better fan, and some writing technology to the Lenovo educational laptops that are now available.

“We are constantly innovating our products for the education market to deliver customer inspired design,” said Simon Kent, ThinkPad Product Manager at Lenovo in Australia.

“The innovation featured in our latest ThinkPad 11e laptops – like the Active Pen technology and WRITEit software – offer a more natural device interaction in the classroom for both students and teachers.”

The laptops being offered support either Google’s Chrome OS based on the Chrome web browser or Microsoft’s Windows 8.1 operating system, and even differ in design, with the basic ThinkPad 11e resembling a laptop without a touchscreen — typical clam-shell design — while the ThinkPad Yoga 11e brings in a touchscreen and one of the multi-mode hinges, changing the design dependent on what the student needs.

For instance, if all a student is after is Chrome, Lenovo’s ThinkPad 11e Chromebook and Yoga 11e Chromebook are practically identical, offering the Intel Celeron N2930 chip with 2GB RAM, 16GB storage, and an 11.6 inch display, with the only difference being that one has a touchscreen and a multi-mode hinge (Yoga version) and the other doesn’t. Both even cost the same, fetching a recommended retail price of $589 each.

In fact, despite Lenovo calling this an update, this 11e Chromebook appears to be identical to the model of the 11e Chromebook we reviewed earlier in the year.


Where Lenovo says things get different is with the Windows models, which start at $829 for the same Celeron N2930 and 11.6 inch display with 4GB RAM and a 320GB hard drive, but with the Yoga 11e model fetching as much as $1399 for an Intel Core M processor and 192GB solid-state drive, capable of delivering better performance and battery life because the specs are a little higher end altogether.

Performance aside, students and parents might wonder what these laptops offer outside of the specs, and that would be a degree of ruggedisation aimed at students.

Previously Lenovo educational laptops have been rated at MILSPEC, the initialism that tells us that something is built to handle a degree of drops and falls, and this is something Lenovo has confirmed with us, a representative for the company telling us that “Meeting MILSPEC standards with eleven testing methods and nineteen procedures, the latest ThinkPad 11e series is designed to help mitigate the rigours of daily classroom activity.”

That tells us that each of these laptops should survive a bit of give and take, and we’ve even been told that the Yoga generation of the laptops — the ones with the touchscreens — even rely on Corning’s scratch-resistant Gorilla Glass to protect the display.

All of Lenovo’s ThinkPad 11e educational lappies should be available now, priced from $589 to $1399 dependent on the configuration option, with availability from Lenovo’s online store.