Acer has announced two Chromebook devices designed for use in classrooms, and one of them has a particularly interesting camera placement
In the last few years computers have become a centerpiece of the education experience, especially as more school systems adopt a 1:1 child-to-device ratio in classrooms. And in the US, specifically, Chromebook laptops are extremely popular in school settings. With that in mind, Acer has introduced two new 12-inch Chromebook models for the classroom, while at the annual Bett conference.
These devices, called the Chromebook 512 and the Chromebook Spin 512, feature "military-grade" durability, which is important for schools that assign these computers and want a chance of ever seeing them in one piece again. Each one has a 1366x912 screen resolution with a 3:2 ratio, which Acer said falls between that of books and mobile media. They also have a battery life of about 12 hours.
These machines will give the Pixelbook a run for their money, as they have touchscreen options available. The Chromebook Spin 512, more notably, is the higher end of the two models, as it comes with a quad-core Intel Pentium Silver N5000 or Celeron N4100 processor. It has Pixelbook-like, 360-degree rotating hinge, too, which allows the screen to turn all the way to the back of the base.
The Spin 512 has an 8MP auto-focus "world-facing camera" and a wide-view HDR webcam, the latter of which sits above the display in the body of the machine, where a webcam would normally be found, while the other is positioned below the keyboard (on the bottom, facing opposite the keyboard). You need to fold the display 90-degrees flat and then hold the device up to use this camera, oddly.
Now, keep in mind Acer has toyed with "world-facing cameras" before. The Spin 11 for instance has a "special camera" placed on the keyboard side, so when the Chromebook is flipped, it holds just like a tablet and students can take photos from all directions. Although there are no photos showing the bum camera on the Spin 512, you can see the one included on the Spin 11 from 2017 here.
Anyway, the Spin 512 is also compatible with a Wacom EMR sylus and has a built-in slot for storage. As for the Chromebook 512, it will run a dual-core Celeron N4000 processor and has mechanically anchored keys, which makes it harder for them to be removed. It also has a 5MP webcam.
With the reveal of these two devices, Google also announced at the conference that Chromebook usage in classrooms has hit over 30 million worldwide, while 80 million educators and students use G Suite for Education, which includes access to apps like Gmail and Google Drive. Google Classroom, a program Google designed to help teacher and students collaborate, is now up to 40 million users.
The Chromebook 512 will start at $329.99, and the Chromebook Spin 512 will start at $449.99. Both devices will be available in April in the US. There's no word yet on whether these will become available to consumers at the same time.