I’ve always loved Google’s Chromebook initiative. These lightweight, affordable, and long-lasting laptops might lack the functionality of your usual Windows PC, but what they do offer is a simple out-of-the-box notebook with access to Google’s suite of apps, from Docs to Sheets, and the entire Chrome Store.
As Chromebooks have evolved they’ve gained more functionality in terms of the hardware. While your basic models have fairly low-end specs, the more you spend you can really get a bang for your buck, especially when you get to those with Intel Core processors and more within.
In comes the Chromebook 3380, an Intel Core i3-powered Chromebook which offers speed and functionality with its 13-inch touch screen. However, as I was so used to non-touch Chromebooks, the touch-screen functionality surprised me, but also became surprisingly useful.
Aimed at the business and education market, the Chromebook 3380 didn’t really have a lot to offer style-wise. It was your simple glossy gray colour with black facia and chicklet keyboard. However it was a breeze to use and was basically a Goldilocks laptop, it was just right, though it might be a little on the weighty side for some users.
In terms of functionality, it performed how any Chromebook should, and as someone who regularly tapping away on a Chromebook, all I had to do was login to my account and all of my shortcuts, settings, and files were readily available. This is one of the things I absolutely adore about Chromebooks. Because of their reliance on the Internet and “The Cloud” all of my files are accessible from whatever device, and with Chromebooks it’s as simple as just logging in.
Now onto the fun bit. It wasn’t until I was brushing a stray hair from the screen that I realised the Chromebook 3380 we’d been sent had a touch screen, and this opened up a world of functionality I didn’t realise I needed. It works just as you’d expect, rather than a mouse click, all you have to do is tap on the screen and it’ll click on that spot. It offered tablet-like functionality on a desktop-style format, and it was a very interesting experience.
Rather than clicking and swiping, I was able to simply tap the options I wanted when browsing the web, I was also able to tap in certain paragraphs to inset the cursor. I was also able to draw on apps like Pixlr, which was quite interesting.
Of course, for many this touch-screen becomes a sort of novelty, however I can see it being quite useful in a business or education setting, especially when giving presentations or navigating through images or applications on a 3D plane.
Unfortunately the device doesn’t rotate 360-degrees and become a solely touch-screen device. Instead the screen reaches 180 and can be laid flat on a table. This is great for sharing something among other users, however if an educator used many of these devices, it might prove a little awkward to lay them all flat at once.
In terms of design, the Chromebook 3380 offers a sealed “spill resistant” keyboard, which is comfortable to use, and being spill resistant it offers that bit of peace of mind when drinking your morning coffee over the device. The laptop itself also offers a more durable feel than other Chromebook’s I’ve used, especially with the rubber-finish on the edge of the laptop.
That being said, the glossy back is an absolute fingerprint magnet and I’m sure after a few times being thrown in and out of a bag, it’ll be covered in scratches, too.
Speaking of the lid, it also came with an interesting feature called the ‘Activity Light’. This light embedded within the lid of the device uses an app to use a traffic-light colour system to alert teachers. Blue is for raising a hand in class, Red is to ask a question, and yellow is to open discussion.
Overall, the Chromebook 3380 is a well-rounded device and could prove to be a vital tool in both the education and business sector. Though it’s a little clunky and its design is a little clinical.