Dell's set has power for whole school day

Dell's Chromebook 13 3380 has an Activity Light at the corner of the lid which students can use to signal to the teacher in a classroom..
Dell's Chromebook 13 3380 has an Activity Light at the corner of the lid which students can use to signal to the teacher in a classroom..PHOTO: DELL

Dell says that its new Chromebook 13 3380 is designed for students, with its solid durable design and sufficient battery life for an entire school day.

But these features do have their drawbacks.

The 56 watt-hour battery offers the largest capacity among the Chromebooks in this roundup, but it probably contributes significantly to its 1.6kg weight.

Its chunky chassis is not going to attract many fans, but its rounded edges are rubberised to withstand minor bumps and knocks, while the keyboard is spill-resistant.

Key travel is decent on this keyboard though there is no backlight. It also has an ample-sized touchpad that feels smooth and responsive while scrolling Web pages.

  • TECH SPECS

  • PRICE: $579

    PROCESSOR: Intel Celeron 3855U (1.6GHz)

    GRAPHICS: Intel HD Graphics 510

    RAM: 4GB

    SCREEN SIZE: 13.3 inches, 1,366 x 768 pixels

    CONNECTIVITY: 2 x USB 3.0, HDMI, microSD card reader, audio jack

    BATTERY: 56 watt-hour


    RATINGS

    FEATURES: 4/5

    DESIGN: 3/5

    PERFORMANCE: 4/5

    VALUE FOR MONEY: 3/5

    BATTERY LIFE: 5/5

    OVERALL: 4/5

Dell has implemented a unique Activity Light at the corner of the lid. This LED light can switch between red, blue and yellow using an app available from the Chrome Web Store. Students can use these colour-changing LEDs to signal to the teacher in a classroom. For instance, turning it red means you have a query while blue indicates that you know the answer. I prefer raising my hand.

The low-cost nature of this Chromebook is most evident from its 13.3-inch screen. Colours are slightly washed out and the vertical viewing angles are especially poor. While the lid and screen can open up to 180 degrees to make sharing content easier, especially for group collaboration, this feature is undermined by the poor viewing angles.

While Google has said that all Chromebooks launched this year will have the Google Play Store, the Dell Chromebook does not currently have this feature, even after switching to the developer version of ChromeOS that includes the latest and possibly unstable features.

It uses an Intel Celeron 3855U dual-core chip that scored 14,841 in the Octane browser benchmark, which is higher than all the Chromebooks here except for the HP one.

With its low-power processor and large battery, the Dell Chromebook unsurprisingly had the best battery stamina in this roundup.

It clocked a very impressive 9hr 6min in our video-loop test, which is an hour longer than the second-placed Asus Chromebook C300M.

Vincent Chang

• Bulky and heavy it may be, the Dell Chromebook 13 offers all-day computing and a solid, but durable chassis.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 12, 2017, with the headline 'Dell's set has power for whole school day'. Print Edition | Subscribe