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Review: Dell Chromebook 3189 Is A Solid 2-in-1 Option For Schools

The CRN Test Center goes hands on with one of the most flexible Chromebooks on the market.

Kids are notoriously fidgety, not known to stay still for very long. So being able to provide a laptop with some extra flexibility might just come in handy in the classroom.

At the CRN Test Center we've been trying out the new Dell Chromebook 3189, an education-focused 2-in-1 that easily switches between different modes of usage. One minute it's a laptop, the next it's a tablet, or a screen for viewing video in "tent mode." To keep things simple, there's nothing to click on to toggle between modes (unlike on Windows 2-in-1s).

And, of course, the laptop's 11.6-inch display is a touch screen, which should give a welcome boost to interactivity for students.

[Related: 17 Cool New Laptops For The Education Market In 2017]

We think Dell has done a nice job all around with the Chromebook 3189. The must-have features for schools are all here. The laptop comes with a water-resistant keyboard and clickpad, along with a shock-absorbent body and Gorilla Glass on the display.

The Chromebook 3189 also gets solid marks on battery life. Touch screens tend to drain the battery, so it's wise for Dell to include a generous-size battery (42WHr, which is the same-size battery as many Dell Latitude laptops).

In our test, the Chromebook only drained halfway during four hours of heavy usage, suggesting that a full day in the classroom should be no problem.

What Dell didn't fiddle with is the display resolution and the processor. Both are the standard fare of Chromebooks—HD (1,366 x 768) resolution and Intel Celeron N3060.

The slow processor speed is the bigger downside, in our view. Performance was definitely a bit laggy. Using the Chromebook 3189 may require students to learn a bit of patience.

While the processor and resolution aren't superb, those are the trade-offs for keeping the Chromebook 3189 affordable for schools. And we think its $369 price for the laptop is still very reasonable, given the advantages it has over typical Chromebooks.

One thing the Chromebook 3189 doesn't have is the ability to support Android apps. Adding that functionality would open up lots of new avenues for student learning, and really that's the best argument we can think of for investing in a 2-in-1 Chromebook.

Just a few Android-ready Chromebooks have been announced so far -- including the 2-in-1 Samsung Chromebook Plus, which comes with a higher price tag of $450. It's also much thinner and lighter, and comes with a higher-res (Quad HD) display.

As it stands, though, the Dell Chromebook 3189 strikes us as a satisfying middle ground between the high- and low-end Chromebooks now on the market.

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