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At the Florida Education Technology Conference this week, Lenovo announced a new line of devices built for education and ruggedized for the classroom. The ThinkPad 11e series will ship this spring in two form factors, a standard laptop design in the ThinkPad 11e model, while the ThinkPad Yoga 11e offers the Yoga line’s unique multimode design.

The devices both sport Intel processors and offer up to 8 hours of battery life. The ThinkPad 11e gets an 11.6″ HD LED antiglare screen, while the Yoga 11e offers the user an 11.6″ IPS wide viewing angle touchscreen display. The top cover of the units will have LED’s to indicate wireless connectivity, power levels or sleep mode, designed for teachers to quickly ensure that students are up and running. Hopefully, these lights will be as much fun as those on the Chromebook Pixel.

ThinkPad Yoga 12

Yoga functionality on the ThinkPad Yoga 12.5″ Business Ultrabook

The ThinkPad 11e line allows schools to purchase units running Windows 8 or a Chromebook version running Google’s Chrome OS. All models are available in graphite black or silver. Customization options include BIOS modifications, laser engraving and custom imaging.

Pricing starts at $349.00 for the ThinkPad 11e and $449 for the ThinkPad Yoga 11e, available through Lenovo business partners and Lenovo’s website. No word yet if this is exclusive to the classroom or if you and I will be able to grab one off the shelf.

The Google Play Store currently has three Chromebooks that fit the low price segment of laptops with prices ranging from $229 to $279, and the high-end Pixel that comes in at $1299, and nothing in between. This price and performance gap leaves room for a quality vendor to step in with a mid-performance device, priced to differentiate itself from the others. We’ll have to wait for Lenovo to release further device specifications before we’ll know if the ThinkPad 11e series can fill this void.

If you have, or are considering purchasing a Chromebook, what key factor helped make the decision? Do you think students should be using Chromebooks or tablets in place of traditional computers?

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