After winning a Best of CES Award last month and then releasing what appears to be everyone's favorite new laptop, Dell is already back in the news: The company today announced not one, but four new products. And they run the gamut too, including a Chromebook, a Windows laptop and a tablet that runs either Android or Win 8. While this might seem like a random assortment, they all have this in common: They're aimed at classrooms, and were designed to take a beating from careless children.

Starting with the new Chromebook 11, it takes the place of last year's model, with a more durable design that includes a 180-degree hinge that can stay intact even if students decide to dangle the laptop by its screen. (They do that sometimes.) Dell also sealed both the keyboard and trackpad, making them immune to the occasional chemistry-class spill. As for the 11.6-inch, 1,366 x 768 display, school districts can configure it with either a touchscreen or an anti-glare panel but either way, it's covered in Gorilla Glass to ward off scratches. On the inside, the Chromebook runs a new Intel Celeron CPU, along with a 10-hour battery and a faster 802.11ac WiFi radio. Nothing revolutionary there; just a spec bump.

If anything, it's the lid that's most interesting. Dell installed a so-called Interactivity Light that glows red, blue or yellow depending on the context. For instance, a student could use an onscreen dashboard to have the light shine red when they have a question, or blue when they want to raise their hand. (Maybe yellow if they want to join in a conversation.) As it happens, Dell already has a kids' laptop with an LED indicator that shows if kids are online, but Dell imagines even more use cases here. Perhaps teachers could split the class into smaller discussion groups by automatically assigning each student a color, or maybe students could use their colors to silently cast votes -- "Which Presidential candidate would you vote for?" and what have you. Surely developers will have some ideas there too.
More at Engadget...

--jeremy