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Google Chromebooks get Schooled, quite popular in US Education Market

Google and its manufacturing partners are trying to shed the Chromebook's perception as underperforming budget devices

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A Google Chromebook displays Candy Crush Saga in New York, Feb. 8, 2017.
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The Google Chromebook, a type of stripped-down laptop, isn’t a practical mobile device for many people – mostly because it basically turns into an expensive paperweight whenever it can’t find a Wi-Fi connection.

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Yet Chromebooks have defied expectations and made major inroads in an unexpected environment – U.S. schools.

In retrospect, that shouldn’t be too surprising. Chromebooks are cheap and easy to manage, making them popular with budget-constrained schools with limited tech-support staff. And Wi-Fi is now common enough in U.S. schools and homes to make an internet-dependent device practical for students.

Google doesn’t want to stop there. It’s releasing new models in partnership with Samsung that are designed to appeal to a broader range of consumers. They have several tablet-like features, including a stylus, touch controls and a 360-degree hinge that allows you to turn the screen faceup. One starts selling Sunday for $449; a more powerful version comes out in April for $100 more.

Google and its manufacturing partners are trying to shed the Chromebook’s perception as underperforming budget devices. But even with premium models, expanding beyond U.S. schools won’t be easy.

Chromebooks get schooled

For personal computers and tablets, Chromebook’s share of the U.S. education market was 49 percent last year, up from 40 percent in 2015 and 9 percent in 2013, according to IDC figures released this week.

But education accounts for just 14 percent of the 110 million devices shipped in the U.S. last year – and Chromebooks make up just 9 percent of that broader total. Their numbers are also low abroad, even in schools.

The Chromebook’s popularity in U.S. education is also largely limited to grades K-12, analysts say. Macs and Windows laptops are still dominant on college campuses.

Rough start

Chromebooks use a lightweight operating system designed to get people online faster, without having to wait around for the computer to start up. Much of the heavy lifting on Chromebooks gets done on Google’s remote servers, so Chromebooks themselves don’t need fast chips or lots of storage.

Early on, though, that made Chromebooks seem cheap and underpowered, which “soured consumer expectations right off the bat,” IDC analyst Linn Huang said.

Online storage for photos and documents online was much less common in 2011 when Chromebooks launched, so their limited local storage was initially unappealing. And the few apps available for Chromebooks didn’t work offline, at least at the time.

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Differing needs

But what constrains consumers can actually be liberating in education. Most kids don’t need laptops on the bus or other locations where they can’t connect to Wi-Fi. And they don’t miss business software like Microsoft Office; Google’s online apps for documents and spreadsheets do just fine for homework.

“What surprised us was how quickly it took off in education,” said Kan Liu, who oversees Chromebooks at Google.

Apple’s iPad was hot at the time, but Google sold the Chromebook on convenience. They’re easier for classrooms to share; just sign in with a Google account, and a student’s apps and documents instantly appear. Teachers also have online tools to lock down what apps and sites students can use.

And with models available for less than $200, schools can get a few Chromebooks for the price of an iPad or a rival laptop.

“It allows us to put more devices in students’ hands,” said Aaron Slutsky, chief technology officer for McDowell County Schools in North Carolina.

Far from universal

But Chromebook’s success story in schools is largely an American one, and it’s likely to stay that way. Gartner analyst Mikako Kitagawa notes that Chromebooks are useless in China because the device depends on Google services that aren’t available there. And in emerging countries, where a budget laptop would be ideal, she said internet access isn’t reliable enough.

Even in the U.S., the iPad is better for many creative tasks such as recording and editing movies. Students studying engineering, robotics and graphics won’t be able to use Chromebooks to run the kind of specialized software that’s available for Macs and Windows laptops.

“But that’s not needed for 98 percent of our students,” said Tracy Dabbs, coordinator of technology and innovation at the Burlington-Edison School District near Seattle.

Many school districts limit Apple and Windows computers for the students who specifically need them, then provide Chromebooks for the rest. McDowell County, for instance, has 5,500 Chromebooks, 1,200 iPads – and only 100 Macs and 200 Windows PCs.

Rivals stage comeback

Last year, Apple gave iPads in schools some Chromebook-like features unavailable to the general public. That includes ways to let multiple people use a single tablet and management tools for tech-support staff. A new Classroom app lets teachers control what apps students run and track their progress.

Apple also provides classroom tools for teachers and students. Free e-books offer teachers step-by-step guides on using iPad apps and curriculum suggestions for everyday subjects. A separate app lets kids learn programming using the same language developers use to build iPad apps.

Meanwhile, Microsoft announced last month new online apps and management tools for schools, along with Windows PCs priced similarly to Chromebooks.

Beyond schools

Huang said some businesses are giving Chromebooks a second look, especially in retail, banking and other settings where people share computers.

But in many offices, the lack of business software such as Office is a major hurdle. Google’s alternative lacks many advanced capabilities found in Office, and habits are hard to change.

Google is trying to make Chromebooks more palatable by letting them run Android apps designed for phones and tablets. It’s testing this capability on a handful of Chromebook models, including the new ones from Samsung. That makes it possible to install Office, Adobe Photoshop and many apps on a Chromebook, though these tablet versions have limited features compared with versions for Macs or Windows laptops. (VOA)

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  • YY

    There simply isn’t a serious alternative for Chromebook in Education.
    Google should buy Adobe and make all their software Cloudable. And GNU/Linux of course 😉

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Samsung brings ‘invisible’ QLED TVs with Bixby voice control

the QLED series witnessed an overwhelming pre-booking response in India within a month of the launch

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Samsung brings QLEDTV with Bixby voice control to life. IANS
Samsung brings QLEDTV with Bixby voice control to life. IANS
  • Samsung releases Bixby voice control in its QLEDTV
  • The QLEDTV  saw prebooking in large amounts
  • The TV is highly anticipated because of its many features

A second Nor’easter that hit the storm-weary US East Coast in less than a week with heavy snowfall, power outages and crippled transportation on Wednesday did not deter Samsung Electronics from unveiling its next-generation 4K QLED TVs that are set to redefine our living rooms.

The QLEDTV is highly anticipated.
The QLEDTV is highly anticipated.

The new line-up of flagship QLED (Quantum dot Light Emitting Diode) TVs – including the 85-inch, 8K Artificial Intelligence (AI)-powered TV – houses an “Ambient Mode” feature that mimics the pattern on the wall behind the TV to create a visual effect, in which the TV blends seamlessly into the wall like a chameleon. To achieve this effect, download the “Samsung SmartThings” app on your smartphone and take a picture of the wall.

The app — available for both iOS and Android devices — then sends the image to the wall-mounted TV and figures out how to fill the screen with that image. In a demonstration, this left only the TV frame to be visible, and the screen seamlessly merged with the colour of the wall.

“Ambient Mode” also provides useful information throughout the day like weather reports and important news of the day etc, even when someone is not actively watching the TV.

Also Read: Google withdraws YouTube app from Amazon Fire TV

With the intelligence platform “Bixby,” you can use voice commands to ask for your favourite movies or songs — along with controlling compatible Internet of Things (IoT) home devices like a robotic vacuum cleaner or cameras inside your home.

“Our 2018 line-up of televisions are most innovative and sophisticated yet, designed for today’s consumer who is mindful of the aesthetics of their space,” Jonghee Han, President of Visual Display Business at Samsung Electronics, told the gathering during the launch event at the American Stock Exchange here.

Ending months of speculations and teasers, Samsung’s flagship televisions — for which the price is yet to be announced — will be available later this month.

The Bixby launch conteol and amazing picture quality are some of the features of this TV.

The new QLED TVs don’t have clumsy cables around them. There is only one slim cable that sends both power and data (audio-visual content) to the TV.

Available up to 15 metres, the cable frees consumers from having to place their TV near data or power outlets. The cable is connected to a separate external box.

“We are excited for consumers to experience our new TV line-up and features that offer more freedom to decide where and how the TV can be best enjoyed within the home,” Han added.

Samsung also showcased “The Frame,” a customisable TV that can blend into any room like a photo frame hanging on the wall. Launched last year, “The Frame” houses artworks that have been contributed by renowned artists from across the globe. Samsung collaborated with world-renowned designer Yves Behar to develop “The Frame”. Out of the the new QLED TVs — Q9F, Q8F, Q7C, Q7F and Q6F — the Q8F and Q9F models deliver stunning images through Direct Full Array (DFA) technology.

The DFA technology uses a panel with zones of smartly-controlled backlighting that adjust automatically to deliver deep blacks and pure whites. The new QLED series supports Samsung’s new HDR10+ technology.

Also Read: Android Outpaces iOS In Smartphone Loyalty: Report

The company showcased “One Remote” technology where consumers can control most connected TV devices with just one remote control.Samsung also unveiled its expanded line-up of UHD, Premium UHD and Ultra-Large Screen TVs.

Apart from TVs, the South Korean giant also showcased a new audio line-up that included the “HW-K950 Dolby Atmos” soundbar; “HW-N650” soundbar for gamers; “HW-NW700” soundbar that features a wall-mounted design and “VL550” that includes a unique metal dial that consumers can attach to any metallic surface and use to control music with their voice.

Samsung has been ahead of the curve with innovations like LED TV, Smart TV, Curved TV, Curved UHD TV and now QLED TV and “The Frame.” As a market leader, Samsung registered 30 per cent share in the overall TV category and 50 per cent market share in the premium TV category in India in 2017.

Last year, the QLED series witnessed an overwhelming pre-booking response in India within a month of the launch, and the surprising trend was that 40 per cent of these bookings came from non-metros, the company said. IANS