29 Nov Why the New CTL Extra-Rugged Chromebook Might Be Overdoing It
The latest ruggedized features on the CTL NL6TX Chromebook could encourage students to be less careful with their devices.
As Google Chromebooks overtake district one-to-one programs, manufacturers of the cloud-based computers continually look for ways to make the most competitive products. The Chromebook market is saturated with low-cost devices designed for school districts with high demands and tight budgets, and CTL hopes to stand out by producing stronger, kid-proof computers.
Yet, the latest CTL creation could send the wrong message to students, making them beIieve they can be more reckless with the devices. In August 2016, the company announced two new models with ramped-up safety features, most notably the NL6TX Extra-Rugged Chromebook. Starting at $299, the NL6TX boasts a touchscreen, a carrying handle, a pressure-resistant cover, a water-resistant keyboard, a shock-absorbant display frame, and reinforced hinges and ports. The cover also doubles as a whiteboard, and the camera rotates 180 degrees.
Rugged Computers Put Self-Discipline to the Test
One of the major selling points of the NL6TX is its high impact and pressure resistance. According to CTL, the Chromebook can survive a 70-cm drop and withstand up to 365 pounds of pressure on the top of the device. Plastic bumpers cover many of the Chromebook’s most vulnerable areas, providing strong protection against drops or bumps if the device happens to fall on its side. All in all, this extra-rugged Chromebook sounds great and is designed for both longevity and easier repair.
So, what is the problem? People. Computer users. Imperfect humans. We mean well, but time makes us forget the fragility of electronic devices. Most of us start off treating our laptops like babies, handling them with meticulous care, afraid of the smallest tap on the lid or a nearly invisble smudge on the display. That painstaking caution starts to fade as we realize the laptop can put up with a little rough handling here and there.
Students are no different. Some might be guilty of sitting a notebook (or two) on the lid, while others carry around an open laptop without fear of it crashing to the ground. Many yank the lid one-handed, putting stress on the hinges day after day; and others regularly store their laptops in backpacks or lockers surrounded by heavier items.
Not All Rugged Features Are Practical
The CTL NL6TX may outlast other Chromebooks … but only if students handle them like other Chromebooks. For one thing, CTL included the retractable handle to give students the option to hang the computer in a locker or easily carry it by hand. But do school administrators really want students leaving uncovered Chromebooks in a packed locker or walking down crowded hallways with laptops swinging from their hands? Not to mention, students are traveling on foot, school buses, city buses and subways to a wide range of neighborhoods, and flashing a vulnerable Chromebook isn’t the smartest thing to do.
Now consider that fancy whiteboard CTL added. The company wisely reinforced the top of the computer to make up for the added pressure, but we’re talking about kids and teenagers here. The last thing any administrator wants to do is tell kids their computers are not only strong enough to be dropped and stepped on, but can also be used as a writing surface. Even if administrators don’t publicly share the Chromebook specs, many families will look up the devices as soon as they find out what models the school is getting.
Young, distracted students can only process so much information at once, and administrators would send a mixed message by encouraging them to be extra careful while also telling them they can use dry-erase markers on their computers. Although less lilely to cause serious damage, teachers are also vulnerable to human imperfection and may turn up with a broken display or cracked hinge.
Chromebook Cases Are Still the Smartest Safety Measure
Buying extra-rugged Chromebooks can easily create a false sense of security for administrators if they decide not to purchase cases. Most districts want these computers to last three or more years, and even rugged devices can benefit from external coverage to keep everyday wear to a minimum. Extra-rugged Chromebooks are most suitable for schools that offer optional insurance to parents, giving students a better chance of maintaining their devices whether or not they have coverage.
However, durable, reliable Chromebook cases that cover the computer’s major breakage points are the best option for most schools, no matter which device they’re using. Volume Cases creates always-on cases that allow students to use their devices without ever removing the Chromebooks or exposing them to avoidable hazards. Going rugged offers useful perks, but cases keep protecting Chromebooks even when students and teachers stop being careful.
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