As Chromebooks make bigger and bigger inroads into the education market, manufacturers have figured out that they need to make their systems a little tougher, as kids aren’t exactly delicate with their tech toys. The result are education Chromebooks of varying degrees of ruggedness, from “semi-rugged” models from Acer to fully ruggedized notebooks that meet MIL-STD 810G standards like the Dell Chromebook 11 and HP Chromebook 11 G4 Education Edition.
Then there’s the new Chromebook from CTL, whose full product name is the NL6x Extra-Rugged Chromebook for Education. What does “extra-rugged” entail? The company says it tested the durability of the laptop’s lid by having a 365-pound man stand on top of it, with no harmful results. It can also survive drops of up to 27 inches (70 centimeters) thanks to reinforced corners that can handle such shocks. The NL6x also comes with reinforced ports and hinges and a spill-resistant keyboard with anti-peel keys. Ironically, the one thing it doesn’t appear to come with a MIL-STD 810G durability seal of approval.
The other key part of the NL6x’s full product name is “education,” and CTL added a couple of scholastically oriented features to its new Chromebook. In addition to being able withstand a great deal of force, the laptop lid doubles as a whiteboard and includes a retractable handle. Its built-in camera rotates up to 180 degrees and can accept an optional 30x magnification lens for microscopic detail work.
The NL6x is slightly more robust inside than many Chromebooks, featuring 4GB of RAM and a quad-core Intel Celeron N2940 processor, though its 16GB of built-in storage is pretty standard. The 1,366×768 resolution for the 11.6-inch display is also typical for a Chromebook, but CTL adds an anti-glare feature to it in order to reduce eyestrain. Connectivity options are what you’d expect as well: 802.11ac Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.0, USB 3.0 and USB 2.0 ports, HDMI port, and a security lock slot.
Despite its level of durability, the NL6x is not priced much more than other Chromebooks, such as the new Samsung Chromebook 3. While that model is just $200, it only comes with 2GB of RAM and dual-core Celeron CPU, whereas the new CTL is priced at $269. The Samsung does claim better battery life (11 hours versus 9.5 hours) and its Celeron is a slightly newer chip, but it lacks the ruggedness of the NL6x — it’s also aimed more at consumers than at school districts.