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Ed Tech Battle Royale: Tablets and netbooks and hybrids, oh my!

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A couple weeks ago, I mentioned that Dell had sent me three of their flagship educational products for review. At the same time, I received a Motorola Xoom WiFi tablet for the day job. Given that Dell had sent a netbook, a hybrid convertible tablet, and a 7″ Streak tablet, the Xoom’s 10.1″ form factor rounded out a perfect test of the state of the art in ed tech personal computing. With my wife looking suspiciously at the rapidly multiplying devices, cords, and adapters, I set out to put these devices through their paces, letting my kids and colleagues beat on them mercilessly (well, not so mercilessly on the Xoom since I can’t send that one back).

Obviously, a hardware test featuring Dell and Motorola is hardly all-inclusive. There are plenty of other players in the ed tech personal computing game (perhaps most notably after Google I/O, Samsung and Acer with their Chromebooks which beg for a school that has embraced Google Apps for Education). However, the trend towards tablet usage, the popularity of the convertible netbook segment created by Intel’s Convertible Classmate, and the ongoing debate over the value of netbooks (ruggedized or otherwise) means that this shootout represents the most important form factors across much of K12. We’ll look at actual notebooks later and decide where their value lies in secondary education.

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